Those of you with misophonia know the feeling, something triggers your misophonia and for whatever reason you can’t hold back like you usually do. You explode. After it’s all said and done you come to regret it, and this is the feeling I have decided to call misophonic guilt. It’s a special breed of guilt. Now what makes this guilt different from other types of guilt is that this one stems from things out of your control. You never decided to have misophonia. And yet you feel guilty for having it. And it certainly doesn’t help when others feed into that guilt. For instance, there have been multiple occasions in which I have politely reminded my brother not to talk with his mouth full, only to be admonished by my mother for it. She knows full well that people talking with their mouths full is one of my misophonia triggers, and yet she still makes me feel guilty for it. Like it’s my fault. Which of course, it is not.
I’m sure others with misophonia have had similar experiences. Times when others have said or done things to make us feel ashamed of our disorder. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Would you try to make someone feel guilty for having a broken arm? Probably not. So why would you do the same to someone with misophonia? Sure there are coping mechanisms those of us with misophonia can use, but those don’t always work. Sometimes we have bad days. We’re all human.
For those of you without misophonia, here’s an example of my inner monologue during a period of misophonic guilt so you can better understand what this feeling is like. “Shit, I just blew up at her like that. Who does that? She was just eating, shouldn’t I know better? Shouldn’t I be able to control it? I’ve been able to handle her eating before, why not now? I’m a monster…” And on and on it goes. Eventually spiraling into a bout of depression, unless I manage to stop the spiral.
Stopping the spiral takes practice, and truthfully it doesn’t always work. Like I said before, we’re all human. Still there are steps you can take to overcome the misophonic guilt.
First, accept whatever events occured that led to you feeling this guilt. This doesn’t mean you have to like what happened, but just accept that it happened. It’s in the past now, and nothing can change that.
Second, do what you can to get yourself in a good state of mind. Chances are if you’re feeling this misophonic guilt you are not in a healthy mental state at the moment. You need to take care of yourself, your mind as well as your body. Do what you can to improve your mental state, whether that’s reading a book, listening to music, taking a warm shower. As long as it doesn’t hurt yourself or anyone else. Do something to help yourself.
Third, tell yourself you cannot control the fact that you have misophonia. Nor can you control any outside circumstances. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just accept that it’s out of your control. You’re only human, and that’s okay. It’s not your fault. You’re not supposed to be able to control everything. It’s okay to have bad days.
Now these don’t always work, but they do help me alleviate these feelings of misophonic guilt. Hopefully they’ll help you too.Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.