Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Don't Feel Guilty, Feel Committed

I like to say that I don't feel guilty about things.

For example, I don't bother replying to Christmas cards.  Every year, I receive boxes of cards.  I never send a single one.  And I never feel a single pang of guilt.

Yet even though I don't feel guilt, I'm not a sociopath.  I try to help people, and I feel terrible if I let someone down.

Contradiction?

Nope.

Here's how I draw the distinction:

There's a big difference between guilt and commitment.

Commitment means doing what you promise you'll do.  I'm very committed.  If I say I'll do something, I'll do it.  And if I can't do it, I'll feel terrible.

Guilt means letting someone else make promises for you.  I don't believe in guilt because I don't believe that I have any moral obligation to keep commitments that I didn't make.

Remember those darn Christmas cards?  I didn't ask to receive them.  So I reject society's illogical belief that I need to reciprocate.  That doesn't make me a bad person, just an independent one.