This is a touchy subject so let me start with a disclaimer that I really don’t intend to judge anyone for their actions – never have, never will. After all, we are the best judge of ourselves and the actions we take.
There are so many instances I could recall in general from my life and the lives of those around me, when I sensed someone feeling guilty or felt guilty myself. You might be able to relate to some of them too I guess.
The time when you perhaps forgot a dear one’s birthday or a special occasion and tried hard to make up for it by splurging and going overboard with your gift spend..? Or the time when you had a bad fight and realized later it was completely uncalled for..and tried all kinds of things to somehow wipe off the event..? Or the time when you found yourself slipping away with your emotions, bordering or even crossing the line with legitimate relationships and then being extra nice at home, sending lovey-dovey messages..or flowers? Or how about you really wanted to spend that time with your kid and just could not manage it and somehow thought some treats (mostly unhealthy) might make up for it?
There are many more…maybe some we witness every few days. The interesting thing is, that most times, our guilt tax ends up being something material. Guilt is monetized. The guiltier we feel, the more we might end up paying as tax.
The funny thing is..nobody I know is into the guilt tax collection business. People are in relationships and there is love (of varying kinds) in relationships. You give love, you get love. That’s really how relationships work. Love is given by spending time with people who mean something to us, doing the things they love to do…listening to them…making their unexpressed wishes come true.
In fact, I would tend to think that every time we pay a monetized guilt tax, we might run the risk of demeaning a relationship. A chocolate? Is that really what someone’s happiness is worth? Or flowers? Or an expensive watch? Is that really what you believe might give your loved one the happiness they deserve?
How about giving some thought as a tax? Think about what might be valuable to them? What might be something that would truly delight them and make them forget about what you did not do? I have tried it a couple of times myself and it does give me a great feeling at the end of it.
So here is what I propose – don’t monetize your guilt. Choose to pay ‘thought’ tax. Try it the next time you feel guilty – hopefully over time, you won’t have many more such reasons to be guilty :).