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    Recently I was going through some guilty feelings.

    Someone asked me if she can come to my house for shabbos. The person asked me at like 3:45 p.m, and shabbos was at 7:30 p.m. It was a hard decision for me to make but, I used one of my DBT skills called interpersonal effectiveness where I said ‘no’ but it was in a nice, and appropriate way. However, until today I feel guilty because as it is this person had gone through a lot, she just had surgery that day, and she comes from a difficult family background.

    Any ideas of what I should do next time something like this happens?

    Hi Anonymous,

    I think what you did was fantastic, learning the interpersonal effectiveness skill and applying it.

    Whenever we learn something new, it takes time for all the parts of ourselves to get comfortable with it and it also takes time for our feelings to catch up to new actions.  One of the many purposes of feelings is that they guide our attention to things that need tending to, whether for our interpersonal (with others) or intrapersonal (with ourselves) growth.

    The feeling of guilt exists to bring awareness when we do something wrong.  When we feel guilty it is important to ask ourselves, did I do something wrong, can I have done something better, and then we can rectify our actions.  If the answer to these questions is “no” then we are not experiencing guilt, we are experiencing shame.  And shame is something that is more deep-seated and can use processing.  We can ask ourselves questions such as where does this voice of shame come from?  Did I have areas in my life growing up that were invalidated and really deserved to be validated?  Where did I learn to invalidate myself and/or my feelings?

    When we have awareness of our shame, it better helps us to not act on the feelings of shame.

    With your specific example, it is okay to really truly empathize with her plight AND at the same time, do what works for you and keep to your boundaries.

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