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Guilt season

Posted on December 30, 2008

It can be the best of times and the worst of times.

The holidays definitely resemble a half-full glass in that each person's response to the season depends upon their perspective. For example, the holidays can inspire guilt ... for the presents you couldn't purchase or the exhorbitant amount of money you spent; the time spent relaxing rather than working or for bringing work home.

The Chicago Tribune turned to Associate Professor of Psychology Gail Sahar for some explanation about the reasons behind the seasonal guilt.

"Part of the problem with the holidays is that the obligations multiply," says Gail Sahar, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. "There are so many expectations of us to do things, and we are likely to feel guilt any time we do not meet those expectations."

But it's not all bad, Sahar told the Tribune:

"It makes us socially responsible," says Sahar. "It facilitates society and makes us behave in a way where we're not harming other people."

"The trick is to have a healthy amount of social responsibility, so you are willing to do things for other people," Sahar says. "But if there are situational factors you can't control—there's nothing you can do, for example, about the economy being bad— it can be really damaging if you feel responsible for things that aren't your fault."

Source: The Chicago Tribune

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