Catholic Guilt, Overactive Conscience and Scruples

I have struggled all my life with a hyperactive conscience. I feel vague to intense guilt constantly. As a Catholic convert, I hear cradle Catholics talk about Catholic guilt. Like the Church invented it. Well, they're not alone. I grew up Protestant and we spoke fluent "guilt."  Some guilt is healthy, but chronic isn't. That's what the catechism calls "scruples." And in psychological terms, shame. It's crucial, for mental and spiritual health, to know the difference.

What is guilt complex/scruples/shame and how does it differ from healthy guilt? Let me illustrate. Do you remember the T-A--Transactional Analysis--school of psychology? It says the self has three personas--parent, child and adult--similar to Freud's Id, ego and superego. Freud described the id (child) as immature, undisciplined and totally self-serving. The superego or parent in TA is ultra-controlled and highly critical. The ego or adult is whole and balanced. In all of us, the Parent (superego) and child (Id) struggle for control. Neither are healthy, alone. It's only when the healthier adult persona takes control and parent and child take back seat that the person is healthy.

We with guilt complexes and overactive consciences are stuck in superego- parent mode. We don't have more to feel guilty about than anyone else. Less, often. We've done our time, paid our penances, said our Mea Culpaes, received absolution. But we struggle to shake the nagging feeling that we've left something undone.

Our apologies and restitution never satisfy us. No confession is ever good enough, no penance too severe.
We don't have prickings of conscience, we have brutal stabbings. Others aren't necessarily accusing us. We accuse ourselves, sometimes to the point of dreaming up sins. I have a recurrent dream in which I have done something unspeakable, willful murder, violent assault, terrible injury. I have another where everyone is mad at me and I can't figure out what I've done wrong. When I wake, I feel sick and terrified, and it takes conscious effort for me to convince myself that it was just a dream (how's that for Freudian?)

Overactive conscience always second guesses its decisions and actions. Guilt complex causes us to be pathologically self-critical. And like so many other emotional issues, they're fear-driven and deeply subconscious (ergo the dreams). Fear of offending, upsetting others, of our own emotions, of consequences. We will sometimes lie or cheat to defend against irrational or imagined wrongs and prevent imagined consequences.

If you suffer from or love someone with guilt complex and overactive conscience, check my blog

Free Printable Bible Finger Puppets for VBS Crafts

I've taught a lot of kids in Sunday School, Children's Liturgy of the Word, CCD and Vacation Bible School. I'm also a teacher and former homeschooler. One activity that always went over big was puppetry. Here are free printable finger puppets, stick puppets, paper bag puppets and 3D play sets (to use like puppets). There are Bible characters, animals, people, Disney characters, monster and other puppet themes. Perfect for Vacation Bible School, summer school, daycare and rainy day fun! Free Printable Disney, Animal, Bible Finger Puppets

Free Printable Crucifix, Body and Blood of Jesus Coloring Pages for Feast of Corpus Christi

After Easter, the Catholic Church celebrates a series of Movable Feasts--holy days which rely on Easter's calendar date for their placement on each year. These feasts revolve around Jesus. Here are the feasts and the dates they are celebrated in the US (typically Sundays). Divine Mercy Sunday, Ascension Thursday, Pentecost, Holy Trinity (June 15, 2014), Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Jesus --June 22, 2014) and Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 27, 2014). The actual dates of Corpus Christi is JuneFree Printable Rosary and Blessed Virgin Mary Coloring Pages and Devotional Activities to help children pray the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries of Our Risen Lord. Here are free printable stations of the cross and crucifix coloring pages to help children understand the feasts of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood) and Sacred Heart of Jesus particularly.

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Free Printable Father's Day Greeting Cards and Craft Activities

We Catholics love our family holiday and holy days. But Father's Day can be tricky. It's sometimes hard to know what to get dad. If he's anything like my husband, he'll say, "don't buy me anything. Save your money." And kids may find themselves with little cash to buy something. Here are free printable Father's Day crafts and greeting cards that you can make at home. Dad will love your creativity and thoughtfulness.  Free Printable Father's Day Greeting Cards and Craft Activities

50 Father's Day Gifts Under $10 for Dads, Priests

On Father's Day, don't forget your spiritual leader. He's a father too! As you buy dad, husband, grandfathers gifts, why not pick up a similar gift for your parish priest? But keep it in budget. Don't overspend. Here are 50 Father's Day Gifts Under $10

Free Printable Catholic Christian Bible Bingo Games for VBS, Sunday School

Bingo is the most beloved board games. Bingo games can be converted into different configurations. Games can be personalized for holidays, parties and to teach content. Here are free bingo games with Bible, Catholic, Christian and church themes. Use for CCD, religious education,  Sunday School, acation Bible School, church camp, holiday parties and other religious celebrations. I've included templates to make your own about liturgy, gospel and mass readings, saints, the mass and more. Homeschool parents, you'll love these printables! Free Printable Bingo Games for School, Parties, Holidays 

Free Printable Wedding Planner Guides, Online Organizers

The sacrament of marriage is an essential life decision. It's important to start out on a good foot and one way  to do that is to be debt-free.

My husband and I paid for our own wedding,  We paid everything off, including the honeymoon, beforehand and so we incurred no debt. The total wedding plus reception tab cost less than $1,800. Granted this was 1987, but we could do it again now. We kept costs down, doing many things ourselves, including wedding planning. Brides and grooms, if you're doing your own wedding, here are free printable wedding planners to help. Print organizers, gift registry trackers, checklists, guides, schedules, calendars, budget tools and expense sheets to manage your big day.   Free Printable Wedding Planners, Online Organizers, Checklists, Expense Sheet

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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