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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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Twenty-Two Expressions Of Unhealthy Guilt*
Thomas F. Fischer
- 1. I'm over-committed. I have too many projects, too much to do, and so little time in
which to do it.
- 2.I really know how to worry. When things don't work out just right, I tend to imagine
the worst ("awful-izing").
- 3. I'm a compulsive helper. Like so many in the ranks of helping professions, I lovingly
rush to the aid of others to fix their problems and love them with the love I so
desperately need form myself Unfortunately, many of these super-ergonomous acts of love
backfire because what I really do is reach out to others with a fearful part of myself to
the fearful part of someone else.
- 4. I'm always apologizing for myself, sometimes to an obnoxiously boring extreme (e.g.
"I really didn't mean to say that..." or "I know it's not just
right..." or "I wish it were better..." Or "I really tried but
couldn't get it quite right. I hope you forgive me..."
- 5. Anxiety and ruminations ("What if..." or "I wish I would
have..." or "If only...") keep me from having a good sleep.
- 6. I am over-committed and worried how I can fit everything in and who will be angry with
me if I don't get it done.
- 7. I blame myself. When a family members fails, it's my fault. When something in the
church goes wrong, it's my fault. Bad things are not opportunities to grow; they're just
another opportunity to blame myself and bear the guilt. No wonder I'm so pessimistic!
- 8. I worry about what other people think of me. I rerun conversations, events, and blame
myself for saying the wrong thing again. If even just one person disapproves
me, it is an indictment of my self-worth.
- 9. I am a success for failure based on what others think. No matter how hard I try, I
cannot dissociate myself from basing my worth on other's praise and blame. Basing my
feelings of worth based on others, I am not in control of myself.
- 10. I hate and avoid anger at all costs whenever possible. As a defense, I am a
hyper-vigilant always looking for signs of potential anger so that I can avoid it if it
- 11. I'm really not as good as everybody thinks. It's not really me. I'm just good at
fooling everyone. All I do is "play the game" and live my life as an imposter,
doing what I'm told, not doing what I'm not supposed to do, and just following orders. I'm
not a human being. I'm just what John Bradshaw calls a "human doing."
- 12. I'm a doormat. I do twice as much as anyone else at home, work, or with friends. I
even do other people's jobs for them. When I burn out, I feel like I'm a martyr and
- 13. I don't make time for myself. After all, who has time? Listening to my heart,
contemplating and relaxing are just too wasteful...and there's so much to do!
- 14. I am jealous that others might be better than me. When others out-perform me, I feel
guilty, worthless and as if I'm a failure. In order to avoid those feelings, I become
competitive, envious, and jealous.
- 15. I am very legalistic. "Must" and "should" are my favorite
- 16. I am obsessed with doing anything to avoid criticism. I just can't stand it. Any
criticism is not an opportunity for self-improvement and healthy self-reflection, instead I
consider it as a direct assault on me. As a result, I feel rejected. In response, I
retaliate by dishing out an equal or greater level of rejection to what I feel.
- 17. I am a perfectionist. My longing for love and acceptance can only be fulfilled and
ensured by doing everything right. After all, there's a place for everything, and for
everything a place.
- 18. I worry about being selfish. My worry, however, is really anger masked because
every time I bend over backwards for someone else, it leaves me exhausted. If only someone
would acknowledge my needs!
- 19.I hate assistance and refuse to ask for help. Refusing others' generosity keeps me
from feeling obligated to them. Besides, who would want to help me? I'm always the one
that has to extend myself. What's wrong with everyone else?
- 20. I can't take compliments. I don't want to be marked as "special." Yes, I
want to have my gifts and efforts recognized because I thrive on the approval. But, when
the approval is given, I'm afraid that if I accept it someone might find something wrong
- 21. I worry about my body, my health, and my appearance a lot. I'm too fat, too skinny,
too tall, too short, too wrinkled. I'm also hypochondriac and always feeling like
something's wrong. Actually it's probably stress-related or maybe it's cancer. I tend to
magnify the slightest nasal drip into a terminal illness.
- 22. I'm scared that I'll be punished for my sins. Since "everything's my
fault," it's only fair that God should make me pay for my sins. That's why I have
such a weak faith. I know Jesus loves me. But does He really? Can He really forgive me?
No, I'm too unworthy. I'll never be able to enjoy healthy, spiritual growth.
- Thomas F. Fischer
*Based on Jane Borysenko, Guilt Is The Teacher, Love Is The
Lesson (Warner Books, 1990)
Index Articles 1-49
Articles 50-99 Articles
100-149 Articles 150-199
200-249 Articles 250-299
Articles 300-349 Articles
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:01 PM