Guilt from Being Unproductive

It has been a while since I last wrote an update about my life. In fact, it has been a while since I last wrote anything on this blog. I have been mostly busy with going out and enjoying my city’s beautiful summer weather (Vancouver’s weather is pretty depressing all other times of the year). I have been spending so much time outside with others that I have found no time to read, research, study, write, work on music, or hit the gym. I don’t feel it as intensely as I did before when I used to be very OCPD, but I still do feel some guilt over not being super productive and not making the very best use of my time.

Gifted individuals and people with OCPD tend to feel extra guilty about not being productive.

Work on Vacation

So where does this guilt come from?

Well, first of all, emotionally sensitive people experience the emotion of guilt much more intensely than normal, average, boring people do (haha just kidding about the “boring” part). A stronger sense of responsibility comes with the territory of being highly emotionally sensitive. Because of their natural ability to see, imagine, envision, strategize, and produce excellence, gifted individuals and people with OCPD feel a very strong sense of responsibility to contribute excellence to the world. But excellence takes a lot of time and effort, no matter who you are, no matter how much talent you have. When this time and effort is not being invested, gifted individuals and people with OCPD feel guilty.

Read more about the obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with the efficient use of time here.

This guilt is a big-time joy killer. It removes you from your present moment that might be filled with so many amazing things that you can enjoy and wonderful people that you can laugh with. Many people attempt to eliminate this guilt by keeping themselves very busy. Being busy, however, does not always lead to excellence. Busy-ness that is driven by guilt can actually do a lot of damage to the joy that you derive from participating in your area of excellence. During my workaholic years living in Korea, I lost a lot of my joy in producing music because I had spent so much time dutifully working on musical projects that I had very little interest in. Although being productive controls this pervasive feeling of guilt, it never gets rid of it.

The way I now respond to this kind of guilt is much healthier. I now let myself feel the guilt and let the emotion take its course in and out of my system. I remind myself in my head that it is NOT my responsibility to bring excellence into this world – being born with all the right tools does not automatically sign me up for a life of duty. My faith also helps me deal with this difficult emotion. I trust that this world is in the good hands of an omnipotent God who loves to share His unrivaled excellence with the rest of the world. I think of all the imperfect people in the Bible that God partnered up with to do this. God didn’t need them to be constantly busy. It was the condition of their heart that mattered much more to Him. I then tell myself that everything will be just fine and turn my focus back onto the present moment.

Another step that really helps to lessen the intensity of this kind of guilt is putting an end to judging others negatively. Many people with OCPD fall into judging others for their “laziness.” After judging others in this way, people with OCPD grow to be very unforgiving toward themselves.

So yeah… I am going to continue to enjoy my summer! I hope all of you are enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world :)

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7 thoughts on “Guilt from Being Unproductive

  1. pinkbunny92 says:

    Thank you for writing this post. It’s something I’m definitely struggling with right now. I’ve recently been diagnosed with both Adult ADHD and OCPD. I had developed the OCPD over time, as a coping mechanism for my ADHD. Like you, I’ve also had success in my career because of my OCPD, yet still felt worthless.

    Recently, I changed jobs, and I left a high pressure, “crisis mode” job, to a job that was more project oriented. In hindsight, i realize this sudden change in my situation exasperated my ADHD. My fear of failure became debilitating, and my OCPD went from being useful to being detrimental. My behavior was becoming a career killer, for example I was rescheduling meetings with people sometimes as many as 5 times, because i was fearful of not having a perfect presentation. As a result, I went into a severe depressive state. It was during this period, that i was diagnosed with OCPD and ADHD.

    While I know I’m doing the right thing to take some time off to stabilize and build some coping techniques to manage my ADHD and OCPD, to be productive again, I’m struggling to let go of my guilt for not being at work, and find myself thinking very negative things about myself.

    Thank you so much for providing a resource on the challenges and benefits of OCPD.

  2. rheablah says:

    Thanks Dan. Guilt is not a nice feeling and I often feel it. I think it’s hard because I want to give but sometimes I want to not want to give because I am tired… I’m glad to hear that you have found a healthier way of managing your guilt!

  3. lululovesu says:

    Amazing. I am feeling guilt right now. Due to weather and circumstances I am missing my son’s baseball tournament. It hurts, and due to arguing, and I am going to assume something food related, I feel ill! BUT amazingly enough, I cannot get myself motivated to do anything else that needs to be done here because my PLAN was messed up. I am stuck. Any thoughts??

  4. I have not been officially diagnosed with OCPD but it makes so much sense in my life. All my professional achievements that mean nothing to me, the struggle to reach for ideals that I just can’t get to and failed relationships because I fail to see the shades of grey. And this feeling of guilt when I’m not doing what I think I should be doing. Thank you for writing this piece. It helps a little to know somebody can achieve so much and so creative and talented even when dealing with such a pernicious disorder.

  5. GiftedandProud says:

    As someone recently diagnosed with OCPD, I have found this blog to be helpful. The only downside I see is the “preachy” element. Having grown up in a “religious” (aka fake to please the church folks) household, I flinch at the continuous references to God. Though I believe in a higher power, I find the preachy aspect of it to be a little off-putting. It may be helpful to ease up on the sermon aspects and realize that your audience may not share the same beliefs. Some come for information…not a sermon.

    • Daniel Kim says:

      Am I being “preachy” and using religion to tell others what to do (as many “religious” people in your life have done)? Or am I not even telling others what to do when sharing my own personal experience (that God just happens to be a part of) but your past negative experience has made the topic of God a sensitive one for you?

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