Does Feeling Guilt Make Us a Better Person?

I feel guilt — most of us do.

Some of us likely cope with it better than others. I’m not too sure where I fit on the coping scale — Do I worry more than others? Does it interfere with my ability to move forward? Does it limit my ability to grow and become better?

Guilt permeates both my personal and professional worlds. I think I feel the most guilt when I’ve been neglectful about something. Here’s an example of what I mean …

I feel guilt when I do not send an acknowledgement to others for good work that they’ve done on an issue — a teacher for their efforts on a special event in their building — an administrator for their leadership on an important instructional topic — an office colleague for the extra work I see them do to make the system better.

Storytelling Our Way to Better Comprehension

Superhero Dave

I’m thinking I was probably around 6 or 7 when I began to daydream about my superpowers — where I transported myself to a make-believe world filled with possibilities. I opened my superpowers through an invisible control panel in front of me using buttons and secret codes that gave me those amazing abilities. As an added bonus these powers came with all sorts of cool sound effects.

One of my favourite powers was being able to fly effortlessly around the neighbourhood in search of crime or people in distress. While I didn’t have a name for my new superhero alter-ego, he was able to do these incredible things and make the world a better place. He was cool.

Dave – probably around age 6 or 7

Stories, whether they are true or fictional, paint a vivid picture for your audience that are often filled with adventure, emotions and possibilities. Imagine how excited I was as a kid to occasionally live in this world of make-believe. My guess is that you might have a similar story from your childhood — a time when you imagined the impossible as possible.

The Struggle is Real

A typical moment in my professional life:

I’m at my desk deep in thought — maybe it’s a budget issue, perhaps a community concern, or maybe an organizational dilemma that needs a creative solution. I’m stuck.

It can feel like my brain’s gears are seized or conversely like my wheels are spinning in mud — it’s an immovable tension of struggling to find a solution.

Neuroscientists have learned that the act of struggling is actually an important part of the learning process. Struggling with a problem results in increased neural connections being formed in your brain. The act of struggling forces your brain to develop new networks — bridging the old to the new.