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    Living with guilt – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I am annoyed with myself for doing the wrong thing. How can I get over my guilt?

    guilt alone lonelinessA. You can’t. You can live with guilt, but use it constructively. Instead of obsessing, recognise where you went wrong, and use that knowledge to do right.

    As a Jewish moralist said, if you sinned with your words, use your mouth to speak nicely to and of other people. If you sinned with your feet, use them to walk towards good causes. If you sinned with your money, become a generous supporter of those who need your help.

    There are books on the subject, and while I don’t recommend one as against another I draw your attention to What’s So Bad About Guilt? Learning to live with it since we can’t live without it by Harlan J Wechsler (Simon & Schuster, 1990).

    He distinguishes between appropriate and inappropriate guilt. Inappropriate guilt tears us apart by undermining our self-worth. Appropriate guilt recognises the value of the person while admitting the wrongness of the deed, leading to introspection and self-improvement.

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