The perfectionist’s guilt: rejecting isolated portions of reality

The perfectionist’s guilt: rejecting isolated portions of reality



365 Project Day 43 BONUS: Inanimate Emotion - ...

365 Project Day 43 BONUS: Inanimate Emotion – Guilt (Photo credit: David Amaya HB)



I should probably apologize right from the beginning that this may not be exactly what you expected. In fact, if you are expecting anything that is not what this is, then I promise that this will not be exactly what you would have expected. Furthermore, the more precise your expectations, the more likely that reality will deviate from those expectations, right?



So, I’m sorry about the nature of expectations, which is that expectations can be imprecise. It is possible that you will either be disappointed or thrilled at what you experience next. I apologize for the uncertainty.



Inner Demon

Inner Demon (Photo credit: Antarehs)



Also, it is simply a fact that you will experience uncertainty in general as well as uncertain expectations in particular. At any moment in life, you could be surprisingly disappointed or surprisingly pleased. You might even find it a bit annoying that I keep emphasizing all of this now, right?




However, I begin very intentionally with these references to expectations and uncertainty. The future simply is uncertain. If you were expecting the future to eventually stop being uncertain, then I promise you that this will not make the uncertain future in to a totally certain future. If you would like for some specific aspect of the future to be certain, then you can promote that priority outcome yourself. I could guarantee it for you, but that might be a worthless guarantee.




But what if you were interested in life’s uncertainties? What if you were grateful that life was uncertain?



That would be a contrast to a state of paranoia. A state of paranoia is when there is a fear of the unknown future. Paranoia can be general or very specific- like a particular outcome could be the obsession, maybe even the expectation.



Humiliation no.138

Humiliation no.138 (Photo credit: dek dav)



Why do we ever relate to the unknown with fear? Why do we expect future problems and then obsess over avoiding those problems?



You might be surprised to learn that guilt is the answer. Guilt is the expectation of future humiliation. We could say that guilt is about an expectation of punishment or injury or expense, like being caught doing something and then being forced to pay a tax or a fine. However, the simple reality of guilt is that guilt is about a fear of an expected future experience of humiliation or shaming or even just regret– not the outcome itself, but the way we relate to the outcome.



A Celebration of Guilt

A Celebration of Guilt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



When we use the word guilt here, we mean the same as regret and remorse. All of that is about a fear of a future experience of humiliation. The expressing of regret is in fact an anticipatory humbling. Rather than wait for humiliation, one who is expressing regret is actively inviting the experience of humiliation and shaming.



“I am sorry that things were not exactly how they should have been. Life occasionally can violate someone’s expectations and so, on behalf of life, I apologize for life ever forming expectations in you and then proceeding to violate those expectations in some small way or large way.”




Can we bring curiosity with us as we explore the subject of guilt? A perfectionist may be said to seek to avoid guilt (by making even the smallest error which could disappoint others and then attract anger and shaming and humiliation).



A perfectionist can distract people from what the perfectionist perceives as short-comings. How?

The perfectionist can divert attention from regrets in at least two ways. By addictively focusing on some diversions, the guilty perfectionist can distract others from guilt. Or, the guilty perfectionist can acknowledge the regrets, but then divert attention from the regret itself by justifying the gap between reality and whatever ideals are presented as more important than the reality itself.



A very popular form of diverting attention from the subject of regret is by vilifying or blaming or scapegoating some external cause. The target of blame can be some natural reality, such as the weather, or it can be a particular person or group of people. All of that is merely to avoid humiliation.



you're shaking with guilt

you’re shaking with guilt (Photo credit: JenavieveMarie)



What about jealousy? In jealousy, I do not like that someone else has some experience that I imagine I would like. I regret that I do not have it. I am reminded of my guilt by them.



I may have been trying very hard to divert myself and to pretend not to be interested in whatever experience that I imagine that I would like (that I am attracted to). So, then along comes someone who reminds me unexpectedly of the desire that I have been denying or rejecting or avoiding. What happens?



I feel jealous toward them. I condemn them. I explain why they do not really deserve it. I say that they are the reason that my life is not how I say it should be. I say that my regrets are their fault. I say that they are guilty (or should be)!



Guilt (The Long Blondes song)

Guilt (The Long Blondes song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Why? Because I was already guilty before they came in to my attention, when I was overwhelmed by an uncertain future that I had been avoiding: the experience of attraction for some outcome that I imagine I would value.



However, I had been trying to distract myself from my desire- and succeeding- until they came in to my attention and exposed me to my disappointment, my own humiliation. So, I hate them for it. I am jealous. I blame them for my anger and disappointment and guilt and of course for making me jealous.



“They should not have made me jealous! It was their fault that I felt so jealous. If it was not for them, I would have been totally fine. Before they ruined everything, I would just have continued to distract myself from my paranoia about avoiding a particular uncertain future that I have been expecting!”





So, maybe I experienced something in the past that frightened me. Maybe I was so frightened by something that I did not ever explain it to other people. Maybe I was shocked, startled, horrified, terrified of talking, or simply did not know how to explain it, how to make someone else understand. Maybe I was paranoid about even talking about it.



Then, someone else came in to my attention and they were either talking about that isolated subject which I had been trying to avoid or- even worse- I knew that they knew about the subject that I was trying to avoid and I did not want to risk being around them. I was ashamed. I was shy. I was scared that they might start talking about the thing I have been concentrating on avoiding.



I rejected isolated portions of reality because of an expectation of future humiliation if an avoided subject came to attention. A terrifying subject could be directly referenced. A humiliating experience could happen in the uncertain future.




“How can I control my future to avoid humiliation? What is the best way to be paranoid?” These were the kinds of questions and thoughts that I experienced.



“I wish that I had never experienced guilt. I should not have ever experienced guilt. That is wrong. That is shameful. That was humiliating. That was terrifying. I prefer to avoid the subject totally!”



The Guilt of Janet Ames

The Guilt of Janet Ames (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



“Therefore, I reject the isolated portion of reality called the experience of guilt. I do not like it. I hate it. I am jealous of people who are not as paranoid as I am. I blame them for making me this paranoid. I blame them for making me hate life and addictively divert myself from some isolated portion of reality and being jealous of others.”



“It is their fault that I am jealous of them. I blame them for my jealousy. They should not be so much less jealous than I am. They should not be so much less paranoid than I am. They should not be so much less blameful than I am. They should not be so much less guilty. They should not be so much less regretful. They deserve to be punished!”




Did I mention that I am a very grateful person? I am grateful for many, many things. For instance, I am grateful that I am not horrible like certain other people. They are so ungrateful. They really should not be so ungrateful!



Oh, and did I mention that I am a very forgiving person? I have forgiven other people for some really horrible things that they obviously should not have done. I do not withdraw my condemnation of what they did, though. I just pretend not to have contempt for them because I prefer to pretend that I am a very forgiving person. You like me because I am so forgiving right?



Oo, and did I mention that I am not at all interested in other people’s approval? Yes, that is one of the very best things about me, don’t you agree?




What else? Okay, there is also that I am extremely humble.



Yes, and that may remind you of some people that could learn a thing or two about humility from me. They are just way too arrogant and proud, unlike me. Remember, I am very humble.




Also, some people are just not very sincere about being a perfectionist. They are relaxed and accepting of others and so pleasant to be around that I can almost tolerate their presence, but not quite. They are not perfectionist enough- far too content and grateful and mostly just focused on quietly promoting their own interests.



But I am not jealous of them. No, I am not that kind of a person. I only condemn them because they are wrong and so they deserve it.

They really should not be like that. Anyway, I would certainly never want to be like that. It must be simply horrible. No, I prefer being how I am, which is a humble, forgiving, grateful person who is not at all jealous.



The Architects of Guilt

The Architects of Guilt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




But I am not paranoid about disappointing other people and getting humiliated by them. No, I am just a perfectionist. That is totally different.



Perfectionists are the very best kind of people, don’t you agree with me? For one thing, we do not care at all about other people’s approval, right, don’t you agree with me? You do agree with me right, don’t you?




I am only asking because some people are very bad. They do not agree with me amd sometimes even say so. I have to avoid them so that they do not infect me with their paranoid negativity.

Obviously, I must condemn them (and you really should as well). I have the fitting amount of contempt for them.



But I am not jealous, right? You do agree with me, right? You don’t disagree with me, do you?




I only ask because some people, who are compulsively paranoid about other people’s opinions, can be very annoying. Anyway, like I said at the beginning, if this in any way diverged from precisely what you were expecting, then I apologize for either disappointing you or intriguing you. From this moment forward, I can promise you that the future will not ever contain anything unexpected, and that is going to be quite a relief.



Not that you were paranoid about the future before. That’s not what I was saying at all.  I’m sure you were already completely open to all portions of reality.



You probably cannot even relate to any of the content of this. I’m sorry to have distracted you with it. I apologize. Again, you must be very disappointed.



In fact, I should not have said any of this. I really regret it now. I only wish that I could take it back somehow or maybe I could make it up to you.




But I am not argumentative or antagonistic. No, why would you even say that? That is totally ridiculous. I should have known….



Yeah, I should have known that you were just like all the rest. I can’t believe that I was so stupid to let you lure me in to telling you any of this. You are probably going to betray me or maybe even accuse me of being paranoid about agonizing about which is the best way to avoid some isolated portions of reality in the future. That is not like me at all. You do not even know me!



White Guilt (song)

White Guilt (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



I can’t believe how wrong you are. I just can’t believe it! This is all my fault. I regret it completely. Plus, if it was not for you, then it would not be all my fault. Yeah, the only reason that it is all my fault is because of you.



For instance, before you came along, I was a very forgiving person! I was so grateful and happy and my expectations were always a perfect match for reality. Then, in total contrast to everything that ever happened before I met you, you ruined everything by causing me to feel guilty for everything being all my fault.



I’m sorry I ever met you. I’m sad and sorrowful and disappointed and grieving. Plus, I shouldn’t be. I regret ever feeling guilt about having remorse for feeling sorrow about feeling sorry about feeling regret about not apologizing to you in advance in exactly the right way.




This was the most frustrating thing that I have ever experienced. I hated every moment of it. I barely made it to the end. I found the entire thing incredibly tedious and boring.

What was it even about? What was the point?



Was there even any point at all? I didn’t notice any, and I’m sure you agree with me.




You do agree with me that I am sure you agree, right? You don’t disagree with me about me being certain do you? I’m not confused, though, because I am just not that kind of person.



Wow, you don’t even know me, do you? Look, just forget that I ever mentioned any of this to you at all.




By the way, normally, I’m not like this at all. I’m always a very confident person.



For example, I can’t believe that people think I even care what they think. I mean, why would they think that? I don’t even notice what other people think, do I? Are you even listening?



In case you were not paying close enough attention to me, what I said is that I do not care what people think. What do you think of that?



Punk Rock Guilt

Punk Rock Guilt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



You do agree, don’t you? I’m always a very confident person normally, right? Aren’t I? You don’t seriously think that I care what other people think, do you?



Why would I? Why should I? No, I am the very best kind of person, which is obviously a perfectionist.



But I’m not idealistic. I am not like that at all. I am simply exactly how I should be and not at all how I should not be.




That’s it. That’s all. Of course, you do agree with me, right? It’s just so obvious, right?



Right! Yes! That is what I have been trying to tell you! That’s good. That’s exactly the answer that I was looking for.

Anyway, it’s so annoying when foolish people perceive things that are not what I want them to perceive, right? Seriously? Don’t you just hate that, too? That’s just so BORING, right?




Thank you for agreeing with me that I do not even care what anyone else thinks. That is very reassuring. I am so grateful for your validation and approval. That really makes me feel… special. Again, thank you very much.



Thank you. That’s really sweet of you. You’re not just saying that right? Do you really think so?



Wow- that is just so sweet of you. You are really just amazingly perceptive. Thanks again!













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