It's too bad I used such a bad pun for the title of this post, which is a link to Badda-Blog's very good piece on guilt. Seems as if guilt's had a bad name for too long, and more people are coming to realize the beneficial role guilt can play in our lives. Badda-Blogger quotes from a variety of articles and their takes on guilt, but offers an excellent take of his own:
Guilt merely reminds us of loyalty or obligations to others that we are failing to uphold. Some folks work hard to bury their guilt... to forgive themselves. I've actually heard of people forgiving themselves for heineous sins. What hubris! The height of arrogance... to forgive yourself before you have sincerely reflected upon the wrong you commited. You must also admit your wrong-doing to the people you have crossed and then seek forgiveness from them!
As I ventured in the comments section, the important thing about guilt is that you can 1) learn from it (you did it, you know how you felt - don't do it again!), and 2) let go of it through the sacrament of reconciliation. Properly understood, guilt can be a valuable tool, an "early warning system" to help you ward off trouble. Properly confessed, guilt vanishes before the eyes of Our Lord, Who puts between us and our sins a distance that is as great as East is from West.