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Guilt

  • Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Guilt is the major motivating force in my life.

  • Probably the only thing my mom and dad agreed on was the vital importance of guilt.

  • Guilt is a Jewish invention improved upon by Christians for the last two thousand years.

  • Mother believed in enjoying herself. Aunt Mimi believed in enjoying herself, then feeling guilty about it.

  • I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own. Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action, of buying time out of the pressing need to make clear choices, out of the approaching storm that can feed the earth as well as bend the trees.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "The Uses of Anger," speech (1981), Sister Outsider ()
  • ... where all, or almost all, are guilty, nobody is.

  • ... where everybody is guilty, nobody is.

  • Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty and I'll show you a man.

  • A guilty conscience is the mother of invention.

  • Terror of being found out is not always a preservative, it sometimes hurries on the act which it ought to prevent ...

  • ... guilt is a rope that wears thin ...

  • Guilt is often an excuse for not thinking ...

  • I am suspicious of guilt in myself and other people: it is usually a way of not thinking, or of announcing one's own fine sensibilities the better to be rid of them fast.

  • Guilt is petty; I am above guilt.

  • Guilt is the one burden human beings can't bear alone.

  • ... sorrow is easier than guilt.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1958, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • Guilt implanted at a tender age is not easy to destroy. A weed, it sprouts in unexpected places.

    • Caryl Rivers,
    • "Growing Up Catholic in Midcentury America," in New York Times Magazine ()
  • My mother could make anybody feel guilty — she used to get letters of apology from people she didn't even know.

    • Joan Rivers,
    • with Richard Merryman, Still Talking ()
  • Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we all flounder; they serve none of our futures.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Uses of Anger," speech (1981), Sister Outsider ()
  • Everybody's suffering is mine but not everybody's murdering ... I do not distinguish for one moment whether my child is in danger or a child in central Asia. But I will not accept responsibility for what other people do because I happen to belong to that nation or that race or that religion. I do not believe in guilt by association.

    • Margaret Mead,
    • in Margaret Mead and James Baldwin, A Rap on Race ()
  • Guilt is unfelt pain.

  • When a person is found less guilty than he is suspected, he is concluded more innocent than he really is.

  • ... we have invented sex guilt to take our minds off the real thing.

  • Belief in Some One's right to punish you is the fate of all children in Judaic-Christian culture. But nowhere else, perhaps, have the rich seedbeds of Western homes found such a growing climate for guilt as produced in the South by the combination of warm moist evangelism and racial segregation.

  • ... I've always been a magnet for guilt.

  • Guilt is tricky because we confuse it with caring. ... It's the next best thing to being there.

  • I cannot keep feeling guilty about that which guilt will not change.

  • Guilt is an emotion that has periodically served me well.

  • Guilt is the teacher, love is the lesson.

  • It was said that if you sent a telegram saying All is discovered to any ten people at random, nine of them would pack bags and start running.

  • Ah! it is well for the unfortunate to be resigned, but for the guilty there is no peace.

  • A healthy dose of guilt never hurt anybody. It's what civilization was built on, guilt. A highly underrated emotion.

    • Ann Obama,
    • in Barack Obama, Dreams From My Father ()
  • Guilt is glorious when it's well earned.

  • Conscious of his own guilt, he ever mistrusted appearance in others.

  • ... [a] heavy sense of guilt [is] the most potent factor in the whole psychologic picture of motherliness.

  • The functions of mothering induce intense emotional reactions which lead inevitably to feelings of guilt. Unfortunately, mothers interpret the fact that they feel guilty to mean that they are guilty. Professionals have simply confirmed this interpretation by telling mothers why they are guilty.

  • Guilty minds are soon alarmed.

  • I am convinced by a sad experience that it is natural to avoid those to whom we have been too much obliged, and that uncommon generosity causes neglect rather than gratitude.

    • Héloïse,
    • letter to Peter Abelard (12th cent.), in M. Lincoln Schuster, The World's Great Letters ()
  • No-fault guilt: This is when, instead of trying to figure out who's to blame, everyone pays.

  • We all want to be guilty, because guilt is power.

  • Whatever a woman is doing, there's always something else she should be doing.

  • [On 'guilty pleasures':] What if feeling bad about feeling good makes feeling good feel just a little bit better?

  • Guilt is the price we pay willingly for doing what we are going to do anyway.

  • Behind every success story there's a guilt complex the size of Mark Thatcher. I'm willing to bet that Shirley Conran constantly borrows cups of sugar from her neighbors, that Antonia Fraser never did the two o'clock feed and that Claire Rayner's kids don't take her advice.

  • Guilt management can be just as important as time management for mothers.

  • Guilt didn't put any butter on the bread of life.

  • Isn't three quarters of life a guilty pleasure?

  • Guilt says, 'I screwed up.' Shame says, 'I'm screwed up.'

  • Guilt is one of those useless emotions I refuse to indulge.

    • Rosemary Daniell,
    • "The One Who Breaks My Heart," in Erica Jong, ed., Sugar in My Bowl ()
  • Could she conceive an environment which had never allowed one to forget guilt? In which, if one were not actually guilty of anything at the moment the chances were that one would be shortly?

  • Food ... love ... mother ... career ... Live every day to the fullest. Partake of the four basic guilt groups.

  • She had a talent for looking at a person with no expression — you filled in whatever you felt guiltiest about.

  • Death and guilt were natural partners.

  • you suffer calculated amnesia, you / forget those who remind you of what you really are.

    • Wanda Coleman,
    • "I Died With the First Blow & Was Reborn Wrong," Bathwater Wine ()
  • She felt ... ready to leave behind her doubts, insecurities, and guilt. Okay, maybe not her guilt. Guilt was like her handbag, occasionally heavy, but something she just felt better carrying around. Same with her insecurities, with which she had grown secure. As for her doubts, she remained doubtful.

  • Guilt, the poor man's mind control.

  • There's only one difference between Catholics and Jews. Jews are born with guilt, and Catholics have to go to school to learn it.

  • Guilt is to be tasted, not eaten.

  • Guilt is the most destructive of all emotions. It mourns what has been while playing no part in what may be, now or in the future.

  • ... she felt that old generic guilt, the kind you feel even when you can't think of what in the world you are supposed to have done.

  • The ultimate egocentricity of guilt.

  • There smiles no Paradise on earth so fair, / But guilt will raise avenging phantoms there.

    • Felicia Hemans,
    • "The Abencerrage," The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans ()
  • Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.

  • Among women, guilt spreads with the rampant fury of bubonic plague. ... I used to feel guilty if the cat had matted fur.

  • I carried the black dog of guilt on my back, but I wore my resentment rakishly, like a bowler hat.

  • I believe in guilt. There's not enough guilt around these days for my taste.

    • Joy Williams,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 2 ()
  • I'm so used to feeling guilty that I blame myself for the weather some days.

    • Anonymous,
    • in Carol Evans, This Is How We Do It ()
  • ... guilt is a pollutant and we don't need any more of it in the world.

  • If love begets love, guilt begets guilt. ... If Mom and Dad behaved toward each other as though they had been partners in some unspoken misdeed in bringing us into the world, we were drenched with a sense of having sinned from the hour of our birth. The thought was drummed into us that the discord in which the family lived much of the time was all of our doing. ... We were convinced that we had brought misery and nothing else upon people whom we ought to love. We were riddled with guilt in all our thinking, and we knew of nothing we might do to expiate it. We could be dutiful, obedient, hard-working, but how could that possibly erase the crime of our existence?

  • Guilt is a spiritual Rubicon.

    • Jane Porter,
    • in Philip Sidney and Jane Porter, Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney, With Remarks by Miss Porter ()
  • It's a strange, inexplicable law that the most innocent people among us are the ones predisposed to the greatest sense of guilt.

  • If you have to choose between terrible grief and terrible guilt, I think grief is easier, in the end.

  • Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.