Social Question

Mariah's avatar

How does one learn how to stop feeling guilty about the inevitable fact that one's existence hurts others?

Asked by Mariah (25829points) September 25th, 2011

Resources that I’ve taken could have been used to help other people. Thus I have indirectly hurt the people who didn’t get resources.

Every time I am sick, my parents are sick – with worry. I’ve been sick enough that I feel that their worry has been significant enough to do long-term damage.

I hate to think about it much deeper than that, but I can’t help it sometimes. Everybody’s existence harms other people, doesn’t it? How does one let go of the guilt from that? Should I just try not to think about it? Focus on doing what I can to make the world a better place?

And I just want to add a disclaimer that I am in no way suicidal.

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24 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Parents will worry about their kids regardless of their state of being. You just happen to be dealt a crummy hand and your parents are doing what parents are supposed to do and all these years I am sure you have brought them great joy to their lives as well. I know that day my boys were born is by far one of the best days of my life and nothing can ever take that from me.

And I would not fixate on what resources you have consumed as we all require them some more than others and the beauty part of life is no matter how much you need…chances are someone will be there to help you with getting what you need. You have many years ahead of you to give back to this world….until then enjoy your day and give your folks a big hug!

rebbel's avatar

A simple one would be to think that others have the same reasoning as you have and that it balances out (in the greater scheme).
Another one is to think that you deserve your existence and the resources you receive when you are in need for them, simply because you are a part of the society you live in and you contribute to it (by having a job, paying tax, paying premiums for insurances, maintain a social life, etc.).

bkcunningham's avatar

Look at the glass as half-full, @Mariah. You like scientific theory, right? So just remember Newton, “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” So for every thing that you consider a “negative” force you’ve put upon your parents and they upon their parents and upon you etc.; there is a positive reaction taking place. That is a good thing in my mind. I’d rather latch onto to the good things.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Wow. What you go through, I can’t imagine your parents would choose differently.

Me, I know that just by being born, I changed my mother’s life as she had hoped for, forever. I know the tension of my existence came between her and her 2nd husband, pretty sure it contributed heavily to why they eventually divorced. Her depressions over the years over what she wanted out of life have been significant and now that she’s older, she feels life passed her by, at least the one she had hoped to rebuild.

I know it’s not all on my shoulders but everytime I get something I want in my life, I know it stirs longing in her. It’s hard for her to be happy for me sometimes, I think.

thorninmud's avatar

Realizing how much one owes to the kindness and generosity of others is a vital part of being a mature, loving human being. You’ll get a chance to repay the debt of gratitude. One day your parents will need your selfless care, too.

zenvelo's avatar

Your existence doesn’t hurt others. The resources used to help you are designed for that. No one has a better or worse claim to those resources, so they might as well have been used to help you.

Your parents would worry about you no matter what, and loving parents don’t consider it a burden to worry about a child fighting an illness.

Your presence has enlightened many of us here, thank you.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Neizvestnaya, that sucks. What can I say. It sucks. But you know, really know deep down inside that you aren’t responsible for what has happened in your mother’s life with her choices of men. Or how her relationships turnout. Enjoy your achievements and happiness. Everyone, you and your mother, everyone deserves happiness and it should make you happy to see happiness in others too.

snowberry's avatar

Your parents wouldn’t worry about you so much if they didn’t love you so much. It’s not your fault they hurt, and taking that on as if it would relieve their suffering isn’t doing a thing for them or you. In fact, the stress is unhealthy for you, which could be damaging in the long run.

Would you have them love you less so they wouldn’t hurt so much when you’re sick?

No, I didn’t think so.

If you haven’t already done so, write them a letter (so it’s a permanent thing) and let them know how much you love them and appreciate all they do and have done for you. In fact, regular notes from you will help them remember this. I love ya gal, and my prayers go with you!

Kardamom's avatar

As long as you’re a good person and you actively try not to be mean or act like a douche-bag, then you shouldn’t worry about it. Everyone, by their mere existence on earth is theoretically “taking” something away from someone else. Just the fact that I am breathing air or drinking a glass of water, means that someone else can’t have those things. If you spend your whole time worrying about your consumption, then you will go mad.

I know for a fact that you are kind and loving and funny and smart. Those things are things that you give back and you give them back a thousand fold.

The alternative is for you not to exist anymore. That would take away more than anything else that you can use up by your illness or by eating a plate of nachos or by sucking up that breath of air that was put in front of you. Because your leaving or ceasing to exist would probably also take away your parent’s hope and happiness and sense of a future. They would cease to be the people that you know and love. All of us Jellies would experience a great loss, even though most of us, if any, have ever met you. But you have enriched our lives and touched us in ways that you will never know. In that way, again, you have given more than you have consumed.

Things like this are not tit for tat, they’re not even steven, they may not even make sense. But to have you here, and let you take what you need is a small price to pay for what you have given to us, and to your parents and what you ultimately have to give to society and to our world down the line.

So again, as long as you’re not a big doody-head. I think you should decide today that you will stop worrying about this, and simply live your life as best you can. We’ll all be so much happier : )

smilingheart1's avatar

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Parent(s) feel this way about their child(ren).

perspicacious's avatar

No. You are looking very hard for something to feel guilty about. This is symptomatic of depression and probably other things as well. It is not a healthy outlook on life.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Taking care of other people, especially my children, is often tedious, and occasionally incredibly stressful.

The feeling of pride I retain afterwards is more than worth the trouble, and I feel indebted to them to some extent.

Blackberry's avatar

The thing some people have a hard time realizing is that we’re alone on this planet. It’s impossible for eveyone to live in their own bubble. It’s our duty to look out for each other. We’re already past barbaric ditching of the sick and unfit. We should accept there’s a lot of people on the planet that need help. Even the healthy need help. It’s just how it goes.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks for the pep talk, folks. You all made very good points. I don’t really let this get to me too often, but when I see my parents having to start anti-depressants because the past few months have been so stressful, and when I think about the fact that I have had 11 blood transfusions when that blood could have gone to and helped 11 other people, and other thoughts, I start feeling guilty. I know I’m in debt to the world at the moment (I have taken more than I’ve given, except perhaps among a small circle of people) but I have a lot of hope that by the time my life is over I will have reversed that.

chyna's avatar

I think almost everyone that is the recipient of kidney transplants, liver transplants, etc., has that weigh on their mind. The fact that you think that way makes me know you are not taking your gifts, or resources or however you want to think of them, for granted. Give back when you can, but living each day the best that you can is a testament to acknowledging how much you appreciate the things you have been given.

Hibernate's avatar

@Mariah I’m sure no one would have suggested [or even dare go there] and say you are suicidal.

I’m not sure about ho to help you make feel a little better. Your parents want what’s best for you so they will worry when things aren’t going to well. It’s hard for them not to worry. You should try [at best] not to feel that affected by them when they worry when you are not well. Maybe with some practice you can master it.

All the best wishes.

kaywizard's avatar

When my baby cousin was alive my aunt had a very hard time caring for him. He spent a lot of time in the hospital and even when he was at home thing were complicated. He always had to be watched constantly. What made thing worse was the fact that he was a baby and we hated to see him suffer. Dis-spite all the pain and stress and sacrifices I think my entire familial wold live through that a million times again if we could spend just one more second with him. What I’m trying to say is when your truly loved by someone it doesn’t matter how much pain or stress you put them true every moment they get to spend with you counts.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We all use resources others could have used. Half of the world’s population lives off on less than a dollar a day. All of us in America should feel guilty.


I just know that if I can’t change something, there’s no use to worry about it. My parents are exactly the same way, but I know what they think is beyond my control, so I don’t agonize myself over it with guilt. I may tell them how I feel about their behavior, but that’s about it.

thesparrow's avatar

Yeah, I feel guilty a lot .. but I mean.. your existence is painful to your parents just because they worry when you’re sick? Think of how much worse off they’d be if you weren’t around at all.

thesparrow's avatar

Oh.. you mean mental illness..

chyna's avatar

@thesparrow She doesn’t mean mental illness. @Mariah has had a lot of health issues that has been life threatening and her parents have been very worried about her, the treatments, the well being of their daughter.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Mariah, people donate blood so others can live. You needed that blood and it was given to you to help you to survive. You can now go on and perhaps in future (I don’t see why you couldn’t but I am sure you can educate me if it isn’t so) you can give blood for someone else who needs it. You will also now go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life, to get a job and pay taxes. Swings and roundabouts sweetie. You received and you will give in time.

As for your parents, worrying about our children is part of the role we take on. Your parents have been through a very stressful time yes. No surprise they might need some help getting through the stress of it all. They love you though and I would put money on the fact that they would go through it all again multiplied by a million if necessary, to have you here and healthy.

thesparrow's avatar

I’m too drunk right now to respond, Catch me tomorrow

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