On the feeling of guilt…

“Procrastination is not merely a curious human aberration, one of the many instances in which people failed to pursue their interest in an efficient and productive manner. It represents a dysfunction of human abilities that are important, if not essential, for coping with the myriad tasks, major or minor, that accumulate daily on our desks, in our memo books or in our minds…When we procrastinate we waste time, miss opportunities, and do not live authentic lives.” [Milgram, N.: 1991]

Recently I have been procrastinating with work related stuff and have been lazy, which has made me feel guilty. So I decided to overcome the feeling of guilt I feel on daily basis (and make myself stop the procrastinating) by exploring it. And what better way than a blog post.

Obviously, the feeling of guilt does not come only from simple things like procrastination. So, before writing up this blog post, I decided to do my own little research on reasons that make people feel guilty. I started off with asking: “What makes you feel guilty on daily basis”? I asked this to my friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter and later I decided to get in touch with couple of people that inspire me. The answers surprised me in the variety of reasons and also levels of guilt. So this made me look up academic definitions and research on levels of guilt.

What is guilt?

Encyclopedia of Psychology (2007) explains that guilt is: “A cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation.”

F.Perls in “Ego, Hunger and Aggression: a Revision of Freud’s Theory and Method” (1951) argues that one of the earliest stages of “guilt” is determined by a break up or violation of rules that we have adopted internally as our personal standards. Author defines guilt as the feeling of self-punishment or “a vindictive attitude towards oneself” (p. 127). Perls argues that guilt is the awareness of contradiction of actions and morals. In short – guilt is a result of “failing” yourself or your principles.

In my life, guilt takes various forms and levels, so to say. I might feel a little guilty for skipping gym or having a late midnight snack, but I feel a lot more guilty when I give into pressure or fail to do something I have strongly decided to do. But can we measure guilt? And if we can, how? Is there one measure for all of us to asses how guilty we are? And if there is, does it change when our guilt involves interpersonal communication? And when does the feeling of guilt turn into the feeling of shame?

There have been several scientists that have tried to get to the bottom of guilt and shame, some of them base it on emotional expression, but never completely separated them (i.e. Darwin, who did the research observing his own son), some of them would turn away from this approach and instead give a greater importance to emotional experience that a person goes through while experiencing guilt or shame (i.e. Lange and James [1922] or Freud [1923]). However, one scientist (H.B. Lewis) decided to take it to the next level and pay a greater attention to the difference between the two. Her work was used to create the classic distinction between shame and guilt that is used now.

“The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation. In guilt, the self is not the central object of negative evaluation, but rather the thing done or undone is the focus [..]” [H.B. Lewis, p.30, 1971]

So basically, as always we return to self evaluation, principles and identity of one. I am not going to go deep into psychology or exploring the terms as I think this sums it up perfectly:


So, why the post about guilt when starting a new year? Because for the last 8 months I have put aside lots of the things I love, lots of the things that made me feel alive and I feel tired. But above this weird tiredness and routine hangs an amazing amount of guilt. Guilt about not doing things. And I guess it is better to get it all out here before it turns into shame. Before I feel bad about myself not the things I have (haven’t) done.

As the year turns a new page in us all (or at least we like to pretend it does, so we keep this one point of countdown when supposedly things are about to change) I have turned back to what makes me happy – writing (hopefully, this won’t be the last post), traveling, photography and generally just making time for myself in the middle of the crazy wheel I keep running in like a hamster. I have made the first steps towards a more happy, more alive me. Let’s hope it stays that way.

To finish off, whenever I think about guilt or shame I remember this:

Further readings:

  1. Heidy Lee Eire “The Shame and Guilt Inventory: Development of a new scenario-based measure of shame and guilt-proneness.” [Dissertation – available on]
  2. T.R. Cohen, S.T. Wolf, A.T. Panter, C.A. Insko “Guilt and Shame proneness scale [GASP]” [Available online]
  3. L.E. O’Connor, J.W. Berry, J. Weiss, M. Bush, H. Sampson “Interpersonal guilt: The Development of a New Measure” [Available online]
  4. S. Freud “Civilisation and It’s Discontents” [1929]
  5. M. Lewis, J.M. Haviland-Jones, L. Feldman Barret “Handbook of Emotions: Third edition” [Available online]

On #YOP, my experience and tips for jobseekers…

This post will be a bit different, maybe more personal and less academically supported, but hopefully entertaining and useful. I’ll try to stay short.

So, today I attended a very interesting event, which definitely would classify as a different Saturday from those lazy all-day-in-bed-with-movies weekends. I went to a youth recruiting day organised by Aspira Consulting at the nice venue – Gilt Bar. Let’s start with first impressions… A nice and smiling person greeting me at the door and sending me upstairs to join the other attendants. I think – we’re off to a nice start. And we were.

I’ll skip the introductory details (although everything was calm and atmosphere was friendly) and will cut straight to the case.

PART 1 – CV, cover letter, interview.

Firstly, I have to point out that on a Saturday like this when everyone is still half asleep it is important to play your cards right when it comes to presentations. I have to admit, first presentation by Neil Hingorani (sadly I can’t find a link to add here, if someone can help me out with that, it would be greatly appreaciated) was spot on – perfect volume, enthusiasm and the level of engagement.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. [Vince Lombardi]

We’ve all been in a situation when we go over and over editing our CV’s, cover letters, personal statements, applications etc. until you think you’ve reached a perfection. However, at events like these we always get to see that difference in how people think when they are looking over your applications. Funnily enough, it is easy to skip some elementary details and points when you do your own feedback. People love themselves too much to not be biast.


It is through seminars like these that you understand you have been asking yourself the wrong questions. It is not about “what is wrong with me?”, “what should I have done differently?”. It is about – how can I get the attention, how can I sell myself more.

The answer is pretty easy, in my opinion: Stay loud, proud and thruthful to yourself. Pay attention to details. Pay attention to what you are interested in, maybe there is a pitch you can pick up and make it relevant. And for the love of God – DO NOT LIE.

Moving on… PART 2 – Understanding Social Media.

I have always enjoyed my fair bit of social networks.. Oh well, that is a lie – people who know me will say I am on way too much social media platforms. I say – so what, that is who I am and how I operate. I am curious, so I find my ways to deal with it.

A presentation by Matt Hodkinson continued to make my day enjoyable and fun. Discussing all the features of social media and it’s meaning in networking and jobseeking has always taken a special part in my mind. And let’s face it, in our globalised world that is constantly online it is a great opportunity for employeers and jobseekers to find one and other.

So what is this all fuss about? It is about non-existant limits, about no borders about the noise (credit for the noise metaphor goes to the presenter). It is about hashtags and keywords, about covering different platforms and doing background research. It is about being yourself, being opened to adventures and being discoverable. In other words – search for what interests you, but do not forget that somebody might be looking for you, so: KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS.

PART 3 – Present yourself.

As you probably guessed, I really enjoyed myself during this presentation (I secretly love presenting myself even when I am not asked to). And dynamic and passionate Scott Summers is to blame for this.

So what are the things that build up a great presentation of yourself?

You need to be interested to be interesting. [Scott Summers]

That is the basic idea, isn’t it? You have to be human, you have to interract to get the feedback. It starts with first impressions and end with the moment you shake hands and say goodbyes. It is all about the communication – body language, words and sounds. It is everything we do during our contact with another human being, whether it is our future boss (fingers crossed) or just a guy next door. People learn unconsciously to read signals and interactions, so that is the main thing to concentrate on when presenting yourself.

At the end of the day, who are we? We are who we want to be. And don’t be afraid to be curious; ask questions you do not know answers to, as this is the way to learn.

PART 4 – Networking PA Access All Areas.

I have to admit, this was probably the best way to end the seminar sessions. Fun, light and adorable presentation by Josephine Green and Merryl Futerman from PA Access All Areas.

Fake it until you make it! [Josephine Green and Merryl Futerman]

Might sound a bit bad. But it is a great advice – faking it for a bit might turn into a real passion and no faking at all. And it almost always does. A great scope on icebreakers, networking events and full of great jokes. Networking covers everything from preparation before to interesting personal and not so personal facts. Be not afraid of approaching people that might determine your future. Be not afraid to say thank you and approach the host. Be not afraid to engage! Simply – mingle, have fun, be polite, be personal (with respect to boundaries of course).


As far as I am concerned these events, no matter how much leader trainings, seminars or lectures I’ve attended, always give me a new insight. They give me a confidence boost. They give me power. I met some great people today and I would not change this Saturday for anything else today. This is a type of thing I would suggest more and more people to attend. This is the way of learning from those, who have proven themselves in the area. This is the way to get prepared.

Lastly, stand out, don’t be a gray mass, don’t be afraid to ask questions and most importantly – stay true to yourself! Only then can you deal with whatever the life throws at you.

Thanks to all the speakers and organisers for a wonderful session of learning today!

Relevant links: