Feeling sorry for inanimate objects.


Credit: Danielle Hamer Photography/Abandoned Objects

I saw someone’s tweet today that caught my attention because I could relate to its sentiment.

True story @ work tonite I completely crushed a paper cup out of stress at work & almost threw it away but felt bad for the cup so I used it. 

And a few minutes later:

This falls under the same category as me feeling sad after accidentally stepping on an ant, but worse.

I thought I was the only one who ever had these absurd feelings of remorse or pity for inanimate objects, but apparently I’m not.

I remember a couple of years ago, when I was painting my kitchen Kelly green, I accidentally flung some of the paint from my brush all over a small throw pillow that had somehow wound up on the kitchen floor and I’d neglected to pick up and bring to safety.  (Don’t ask me how it wound up on the kitchen floor).   A small fake-velvet tan pillow with floral embroidery was permanently ruined with Kelly green paint and it was all my fault.  I had to throw it away and I felt like weeping.

How absurd is that?  I was never attached to that pillow; it was worth nothing.  I probably found it for a buck at some yard sale, but I remember feeling like the worst person in the world because the thing looked so pathetic with lurid green paint splattered over its delicate tan velvet adorned with Chinese-factory made embroidery.

I remember when my daughter was four, she tossed a Pound Puppy out of our car window to see what would happen to it.   Of course I had to keep going, but in my rearview mirror,  I saw the car behind me run over the stuffed toy and flatten it like a pancake.  Its petroleum-based stuffing exploded all over the road like popcorn.   My daughter laughed.  I felt inexplicably sad.

There have been other times like that too.   Like the time that, in frustration, I threw a paperback book (one I’d never read and never intended to read) against the wall and split its binding.  Or  the other time I accidentally burned a cheap oven mitt that had a cute lattice-like pattern on it.     I actually liked that oven mitt, but it had cost me $3 at Dollar General.   There were a gazillion more just like it. Besides, it was intended to be stuck inside a hot oven.   Getting burned was one of the risks that came with its intended use.

None of these were valuable objects, or even objects that had any special meaning to me.  They were just part of the background — things I’d acquired and that were just there.   Things I never thought much about.    Of course I realized they had no feelings, and could feel neither emotional or physical pain.   I’m not an idiot.

And yet, when bad things happened to them — or worse, when I did bad things to them — I felt just terrible, as if I’d killed someone.   Would these inexplicable feelings of guilt had been less had I loved those objects or had they been valuable, either financially or in the sentimental sense?    Maybe I’d have grieved over their loss but have been spared that guilt.   After all, those poor objects were never loved, and then were destroyed through my own carelessness.  Maybe if I’d cared, I wouldn’t have done things like spill green paint all over them or thrown them hard against a wall in frustration.

Sometimes I also feel bad for abandoned or neglected objects.    There’s a website I visit sometimes called Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.  The site owner has a bizarre obsession with those ubiquitous plastic outdoor chairs.   He or she calls them the “garden chairs of solitude” and positions them in poignant configurations that just rip your heart out, like in this photo:


“Garden chairs of solitude”

Whenever I rescue some forgotten or abandoned object from certain destruction by the trash compactor that barrels down the road every Monday, I feel like I’ve done a good thing for it, as if the thing actually cares.



29 thoughts on “Feeling sorry for inanimate objects.

    • We will never really know. I think we just project our own feelings onto objects, but some Eastern religions believe things actually have souls, so who knows? I think some things can take on the energy or vibrations of the people who have influenced them negatively or positively– haunted houses are a good example of this, as are locations that just give “good vibes” or “bad vibes.” But those qualities aren’t inherent — they are imprinted there by humans.

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      • Yes. Yes! I honestly thought this was a strange indication of my childhood OCD, and find it embarrassing because my mother and more than a few schoolmates teased me about it. I was so sorry for inanimate objects that I dropped or “hurt” or in some way neglected that I even apologized to the food I couldn’t finish when I put it in the garbage. A lot of this persists, more than 40 years later. Thank you for letting me feel less alone with it.

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  1. Strange, but I totally relate. I apologize to objects when I drop them and feel guilt over hurts and damage inflicted by accident. If it is bad to be over sensitive to the plight of the inanimate, then call me bad. 😊

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  2. I loved this. I laugh every time I see the garden chairs of solitude…then feel guilty for laughing. And I can relate to vick’s comment…I too apologise when I drop pens or other inanimate objects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I laugh at the garden chairs too, and then also feel guilty about laughing at them. In those photos, they seem to have feelings, usually of loneliness or sadness. You just want to go sit in one and make it feel better.


  3. I know exactly what you’re talking about! And it happens to me over objects I never cared much for too. When I realized that I’d “grown up” and no longer wanted to play for hours with my stuffed animals, I felt bad for them, but I felt guilty over the ones I’d never played with all that much. All that time not getting played with and now they’d never be played with. However, my younger sister adopted a few as her favorites, which makes me happy :3

    However, I’m not entirely convinced inanimate objects don’t have feelings, of a sort. In Japan, they say that after 100 years, your inanimate objects are given souls and come to life. If they were treated well and lovingly, they’re usually pleasant, but if they were treated badly, they can be malicious. Therefore, after your possessions do a job for you, you thank them, when you damage them, you say sorry, and when you’re throwing them away, you thank them for their long years of service and bid them farewell.

    It can’t hurt, right? 😉

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  4. I’m kind of like this with objects that have faces, like dolls, stuffed animals, even my ceramic/porcelain dog collection. It was more prominent in childhood though. I don’t tend to get all that attached to inanimate objects.

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    • Hi, Aura! After my 3 month hiatus from the blog world, I feel like I’m ready to re-follow a select few, but I see that your blogs are marked private now. I hope you’re doing ok. ((HUG))

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hey Lady Q. I will email you when I can. I’m struggling again about putting myself out there. I had a run-in on WP with a ‘not very nice’ person and didn’t want them reading all my stuff. I know…lame, but I’ve been very back and forth about making my trauma so public anyway. This just gave me some time to think more about it. I still don’t know what I’m doing.

        I didn’t know you were getting NFB. I hope it’s still going well. I just now saw one of the posts about it.

        Happy Easter! Hope you are able to enjoy your day.

        Sorry Otter for sabotaging your comment section…lol…Happy Easter to you too. Cyber hug to each of you (if you want one.)

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        • That’s alright! I’ve certainly had run ins with mean people in the blogosphere too. (Lady Q knows all about this). It’s been almost two years though, and I no longer am afraid of anything like that happening again. If it does again, at least I’ll be prepared for it.
          Happy Easter to you also!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Not lame to me, Aura, I get it. Been there myself. It can really hurt when you write down your heart and soul, and some jerk steps all over your words.

          I am working on a post about my neurofeedback, which I will open to comments. It’s wonderful not to care so much now about what people think of me, especially online strangers. Recently I saw where a bully was attacking someone on Twitter. Wanting to help out the one being bullied, I wrote a tweet, addressed to both of them, which I hoped might give the bully a different way of looking at things. Of course, I knew that was a very long shot, trying to change a bully’s perspective, but at least I figured my message might shore up the guy who was being vilified.

          So then the bully, after looking over my Twitter bio, sent me this tweet: “Nice of you to inform the whole world that you are a Mensa member.”

          My reaction? I liked his tweet and replied “Lol.” No upset. No mad. No second guessing myself, wondering if it’s bragging or unseemly or somehow un-Christian to state in my bio that I am a card carrying Mensa member.

          I am sure that my reaction would have been very different, prior to neurofeedback.

          My apologies to Lucky, too, for hijacking her comments. More ((HUGS)) to you both, if you want them.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Perhaps it’s a matter of ‘transference’ – as if those making something, even if they’re divorced from the process via technology-somehow a part of *them* went into it? As if the ‘soul’ of the maker somehow ‘went into’ the created thing?

    This has been spoken of in a fictional context. Perhaps it isn’t quite the fiction so many of us have been told?

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