The phrase Catch-22 is overused but it serves the purpose here to capture one aspect of Falzhaefengilt.
If you have so called "Bourgeois Guilt" and are aware of it, you will realize, with proper reflection, that no act, no matter how seemingly selfless, will relieve you of that guilt. The reason is simply you can not be sure that your motivation is not entirely or to a strong degree to relieve the guilt. The fact that you do an act to relieve the guilt corrupts the intention. No act based on a corrupt intention is a genuinely good act. Then put in a situation to do a good act the act itself becomes evidence of your guilt and convicts you. There is actually no way to relieve Bourgeois Guilt, (c.f. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens when Bourgeois Guilt was Aristocratic Guilt) only to own up to it and feel guilty. However, I largely reject the Bourgeois Guilt hypothesis and it is not necessary to resort to it to explain Falzhaefengilt.
Another cause, a more spiritual cause, is illustrated below.
In this instance a person has developed a reasonable view of his or herself as a deeply flawed creature who, on the whole is a sinner. This is reflected by the first scale. In the process of doing a charitable act he or she considers not only the act but the motivations for the act and the smallness of the act in comparison to an entirely pure selfless act. This self inspection reveals both past and future shortcomings, let us call these the "sins of omission." The missing good of all potential acts of charity vastly overwhelms the mere flakes of goodness inherent in the particular act of charity leaving him or her in a worse position than before. The only solace is that these sins of omission were already present just unaccounted but the value of the good act is still reduced by the impurity of the intention.
It seems to me that "good people" perhaps including saints, may often suffer from this form of Falzhaefengilt, as Schindler is dramatized to have suffered.
Is this view valid?
Before we proceed much further along, it may be helpful to know that music can provide temporary relief from Falzhaefengilt. The reason music provides relief will be explored at some point in this blog, but as an experiment put yourself back in the situations of examples 1 and 2 (whichever, meditation upon made you feel worse). Then click and watch one or more of the following carefully selected videos*:
Shelter, by Lone Justice
Beautiful Things, by Gungor
Kyrie, by Mr Mister
Bad, by U2
Hold Us Together, by Matt Maher
Questions for Reflection:
(1) Immediately after watching the video walk yourself through the scenario in Example 1 or 2 again. Do you feel the same way?
(2) What does that say about music's affect on the spiritual/interior life?