I am in need of a term for the feeling or condition of having to give up some life experience or opportunity due to a conflicting obligation, especially in cases of routine sacrifice of that which is considered "fulfilling".

I say "feeling or condition" because often it is sufficient to say one feels they are in a state of being subject to some condition, e.g. "I feel trapped".

I am interested in a term that has an appropriate connotation as the inverse of guilt. In other words, I am describing the contrasting negative feelings one might have (guilt vs ___) after having prioritized either self-interests or the interests of others, particularly when having a responsibility for the other party such as in parenthood.

Update: I appear to have actually asked for two things here. I was hoping for a means of describing the emotional condition of being bound to this scenario, but my contextual example asked for the resulting emotions that might follow, in which case resentment would have been a possible candidate.

3 Answers 3


I believe you are looking for self-abnegation or abnegation.

self-abnegation: the denial of one's own interests in favour of the interests of others Collins

Here are some more details and an example from vocabulary.com:

The noun abnegation definitely has the sense of self-denial and self-sacrifice. So you wouldn't use abnegation to refer to the fact that you are giving up candy in order to eat more fruit. Instead, you would use the word if you were giving up desserts in order to donate to charity all the money you saved by not eating them for a month or two.

  • This is a fantastic term that perfectly describes the behavior, but it does not convey any emotional connotation, i.e. I cannot "feel" abnegation.
    – mysteryegg
    Jul 13, 2015 at 20:19
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    @mysteryegg: But you said feeling or condition. If you really want a feeling, you can say "I feel obliged".
    – ermanen
    Jul 13, 2015 at 20:21
  • Abnegation initially struck me as too altruistic, but it should be possible to qualify the term, e.g. being obligated or bound to abnegation.
    – mysteryegg
    Jul 14, 2015 at 15:28

Sounds like you're balancing guilt vs regret.

Google's first definition of regret currently is:

a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.

  • In the context provided, there will undoubtedly be instances where one may choose between guilt and regret. However, regret tends to have a connotation of a single isolated opportunity or tangible endeavor rather than an ongoing scenario.
    – mysteryegg
    Jul 13, 2015 at 20:06
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    "I feel a lot of regret about the way I've lived my life." "Why is that?" "It just feels like I haven't done enough of what I wanted to do." If it's akin to guilt, then it's not going to have a connotation of "routine" or "chronic"--but it doesn't exclude such an interpretation, and the context should make it clear.
    – Val Kornea
    Jul 13, 2015 at 20:27
  • you make a good point. I have clarified my request somewhat, but I can definitely use regret to describe a potential outcome.
    – mysteryegg
    Jul 14, 2015 at 13:21

I think you are referring to what is generally called sense of responsibility:

  • an awareness of your obligations

The Free Dictionary

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