How do people feel guilty right now? Let us count the ways. I get two: 1) Feeling bad about feeling bad and 2) Feeling bad about feeling good.
Feeling Bad About Feeling Bad
A lot of people are feeling bad about feeling bad, because there is always someone who has it worse.They may feel they should just get it together and find work somehow or, if they still have a job, should be using their time better and getting more done.
They may feel they should just get it together and find work somehow or, if they still have a job, should be using their time better and getting more done.
It may be chaos now at home. The kids are everywhere all the time, and they’re feeling guilty that they’re not paying enough attention, or the right kind of attention, to the kids…to their parents, to all of the other people who have it so much worse.
Feeling Bad About Feeling Good
Then there are all the many people who are feeling bad about feeling good, the ones who:
- Are in introvert heaven
- Are happy to be alive
- Love working from home
- Enjoy family time like never before
- Finally finished their book
- Got a promotion and a raise
- Had their best financial year ever
…all the kinds of things they think it’s not right to talk about now—not out loud anyway, except maybe with people like me.
In fact, that is why I am talking about it openly now, because I have been listening to the whisper of it all week. And, because Pandemic Guilt, or the feeling of having made it through the trauma more than okay, a kind of survivor’s guilt, can cause suffering more real than people may know:
According to Hackensack Meridian Health, pandemic guilt “may result in nightmares, insomnia, inability to function, social isolation, feelings of fear, emotional detachment, avoidance of usual activities, and could be a form of PTSD if it lasts more than four weeks.”
Pandemic Guilt Spillover
It is worth noting here that not everyone suffers their guilt in silence. Oh no, sometimes hoping to work off their own guilt, they may say and do things that cause suffering to everyone else.
On one end of the spectrum there are the awkwardly empathic ones. These are the ones with a tone of voice and look on their face that lets you know for sure that—even though you know you can do this and may even be really enjoying it—they’re pretty sure they’d jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if they had to be you. Only, they are not you.
At the other end are the ones who think that, if they can fix everyone else, then everyone else will feel good too, in which case they no longer have to feel bad themselves about feeling as good as they do.
People mean well with their empathy and great ideas for other people, but really, let’s be honest, it can be really annoying, and how much does it even help?
Pandemic Guilt Remedy
So here’s what I’m recommending: First do no harm. Let’s all learn to tolerate our own feelings.
Once we accept our own feelings as a normal, natural and—in the case of Pandemic Guilt—a rather nice but misguided part of our humanity, we won’t need to work off the discomfort of our feelings anymore.
Then we can leave other people alone, well not alone exactly but free from our angst. And, when we are not consumed by our own guilt, there is all the more energy freed up to help others who really want us to, not because we can’t stand our own guilt, but because they want us to and we can.
So…now that we all know that Pandemic Guilt is a thing, and that a lot of us may have it, tell us what difference this can make for you in your part of the world.
Warmest wishes for the holiday season,