The Candy of Guilt

Photo: Chris Crisman

The definition of guilt as proposed by eNotes Editorial is this: ‘An emotional state produced by thoughts that we have not lived up to our ideal self and could have done otherwise.’

During our monthly writers’ staff meeting, in my mind I was hastily going through the plethora of different ‘guilty pleasures’ that I have. And sure enough, there are plenty of ‘embarrassing’ ones, even though I could debate on the whole idea of how a guilty pleasure is not supposed to be considered guilty at all. Why should anyone feel guilty or feel obliged to experience a negative feeling after enjoying themselves? Could it be that a part of the guilt-tripping that we put ourselves through is because we like the idea of feeling guilty? That we just judge ourselves like nobody else could and should and would?           

Pleasure for itself and in moderation does not, by virtue, possess a guilty quality. It is when a person starts to indulge themselves in excess that it becomes ‘guilty’. From personal observations and experiences, it seems to me that indulgence is one of the key steps which opens doors to the realm of guilt. Between all the silly and real ‘guilty pleasures’, there is one I would say for which you really should look out for – it is the guilty pleasure of guilt itself.

The day

I really like going to grocery stores, or even better to beautifully stylized candy stores, and buying candy. Sometimes days go by, and I just pass these stores, but there are recurring phases of the year when their candy becomes the sole purpose of these buying impulses. The flashy aesthetics of the stores. The different vibrant colors. Tons of exciting flavors. The situatedness of that deed. Pavlovian conditioning kicks in and I start to salivate by just imagining which colorful sour-sweet candy I would like the most. I love all of it. It really is a pleasure.

The Night

I kind of ruined myself with them. I feel so guilty to the point that I like it. It’s my guilt. Every night I cover myself with a quilt made out of guilt.

I start liking it, even though I know, and I feel it is wrong, but I like it because guilt comes from within. Yes, there are norms that uphold it or don’t, but it comes from within, first and foremost. It means that it is made by you for you. Bless be the people who don’t have self-reflective induced guilt trips.

Once I had that candy, I find it really hard to stop devouring even more of it. The excitement and joy from the candy hit that dopamine spot, and the rush from knowing that it’s not of solid value for my body, while still being so delicious ticks off the adrenaline and cortisol boxes. And now I am addicted. The name of the partner in my love/hate relationship is Guilt. Full name: Guilt Thorn in my Side.

But Guilt is sometimes kind and offers me the gentle hand of hope. He wants to help me and release me, so he tells me this: If the feeling of guilt comes from within, that means you control it. It means that you can get rid of it. Get rid of me, silly

The Day

My inner mouth is still a bit irritated from the sourness and the sweetness of the candy, but as it slowly fades away, so does my guilt. I like that too. It makes me more sensitive to other sensations, whether they be sensuous, sensory, or emotional. I am more exposed and coarser to them because the harshness of the candy irritated my surface and created little openings, so now the outside influences go easier. I feel them – a direct contact. It stings a bit, but that’s alright, I kind of like that.


Guilt passed.


I wonder if I’ll go into the candy store again.

Designed by: Nina Gueorguieva

Do you want to double-check the information you just received? Here are the sources the writer used.

“In psychology, what is “guilt,” and what are the stages of guilt development?” eNotes Editorial, 30 Jan. 2014, Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.