Author and speaker Amy Hirshberg Lederman researches guilt. She defines guilt as “that feeling that haunts us when our ideal of who we should be or what we should do differs from the reality of who we really are.” Conventional guilt, she explains, emerges from feelings of low self-esteem and negative self-worth. Hirshling-Lederman found that most people suffer from two kinds of guilt, the “not enough” and the “too much” syndromes.
My interest in the subject (as the friend who mailed me a copy of the “Got Guilt?” article in the Chicago Jewish News knows) stems from my work, over the past twenty-plus years with Indiana bankruptcy clients. Believe me, guilt is the big unspoken presence in the office when clients are sharing their situations with me. The problem is, as I help clients prepare for the bankruptcy court process, there’s no time for guilt and blame. There’s important work to be done and important decisions to be made. Earlier, in Getting Healthy After Bankruptcy, I wrote about the need for clients to see past the stress and guilt and blame, because these things just get in the way of progressing towards the rebuilding process.
That’s why I found the Four Point Plan for change described in the article so relevant. Amy Hirshberg-Lederman writes, “Judaism has a Four Point Plan…I call it AARP for Ask, Answer, Regret, Prepare. ASK yourself hard personal questions. ANSWER those honestly. REGRET what has happened (in many bankruptcy cases, it’s not so much something the individual has done wrong, but circumstances outside the control of the client), and then PREPARE to make meaningful changes.”
This is such appropriate advice for everyone undergoing financial difficulties – don’t you agree?