Q: In the movie “City Hall”, the mayor says, “If a sparrow dies in Central Park, I feel responsible.” Like him, I feel a constant, nagging sense of guilt when I cannot tangibly fix ***everything*** that’s wrong in the world, no matter how distant or impossible. What can I do about this?
A: Excellent question.
First of all, I have to ask you how much you actually mean what you are saying here. A lot of people say this, but few actually mean that they really do feel guilt about even such remote things. If you mean this even to a 75% level or so, this shows both a lot of guilt and a lot of shame.
Guilt is about specific mistakes we blame ourselves for. Shame is about thinking we ARE the mistake!
If you mean this, you essentially walk through life trying to find reasons for all that emotional pain (the shame), and you will grab at any even the wildest possible explanations for that shame that come your way. You are convinced you are bad, or at least that you aren’t good enough and you never can be.
Bottom line: This is a very serious problem and I strongly suggest therapy. It’s only through a relationship with a therapist who accepts you deeply that you will get the acceptance you need to overcome such levels of shame and guilt.