Guilt is an experience causing significant discomfort. Can it be healthy? Discover it now.
Guilt is destructive to your happiness. it concerns your body, mind, heart, and soul. But mostly it impedes your emotional life.
What Is Guilt
Guilt is a cognitive or emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated a universal moral standard and bear significant responsibility for that violation. Guilt is closely related to the concept of remorse. - Wikipedia
This emotion is a very common tool of manipulation and a part of emotional blackmail. People who feel guilty work harder and seem like better leaders, parents, friends and lovers.
They just put extra effort into "deserving" acceptance, credit, promotion etc. However, they pay a huge price for that, ruining their health with constant stress.
Therefore, we need to do something to eliminate guilt as soon as possible. And I do not mean just saying "I let it go".
Some Facts about Guilt
Now I will present to you some facts about guilt and why it is important to know them.
It Is a Program in Your Head, Manifested by Emotion
It simply means that it is one of the programs imprinted in your computer - mind. This program, as in a real computer, has a mechanism on how to be switched on and how to work efficiently, not necessarily, however, to your advantage. It is manifested by emotion, but the program is in your head.
Guilt Generates the Same Emotion
As I wrote in my last post, guilt may concern things undone but intended to be done. If you follow your intentions, a new type of emotion will be generated - for the real deeds done.
It Helps Us to Grow
"Guilt works best to help us grow and mature when our behaviour has been offensive or hurtful to others or ourselves. If we feel guilty for saying something offensive to another person, or for focusing on our careers with an 80-hour workweek over our family, that’s a warning sign with a purpose: change your behaviour or else lose your friends or family. " - John M. Grohol,
Perfection Does Not Exist in Anyone
Nobody is perfect, even our friends or family members who appear to lead perfect, guilt-free lives. Striving for perfection in any part of our lives is a recipe for failure since it can never be attained.
How to Handle Guilt
There are two kinds of guilt: healthy and unhealthy. I will describe the process separately for each of these types.
The Healthy guilt
This is the healthy guilt that can spur you to correct wrongdoings, creating social cohesion and a shared sense of responsibility. It is just the consequence of your wrong deeds.
It is the guilt for things that you cannot take responsibility for, like other people's actions and well-being, and things you cannot control, like the outcomes of most situations. This type of guilt leads to dwelling on perceived failures, creating shame and resentment.
Mark R. Leary, PhD told Real Simple that you should ask the question, “Am I consciously living by my own expectations?” If not, ditch the guilt. It isn’t yours.
Dealing with Healthy Guilt
Healthy guilt is the most obvious and requires taking immediate action. Here are some steps which you need to take to handle it:
1. Recognise the Kind of Guilt You Have And Its Purpose
When guilt arises, we are being signalled to change that behaviour or else risk the consequences. It usually happens in case of guilt arising from hurting another person or having a negative impact that could have been prevented. Therefore, define the reason for your guilt.
2. Forgive Yourself
We are all humans and can make mistakes. Some of them might cost a lot and cause extreme guilt, e.g., if you have killed someone.
You were dazzled with anger or for a while were acting deliberately. But later you have realised the weight of your deed, a bit too late. The effects are irrevocable.
However, even then you can forgive yourself. You will face the consequences, probably become imprisoned for some time, deluged with accusations and blame, and condemned by some people.
3. Face the Truth
Acknowledge the actual hurt caused without exaggerating or minimizing what happened. Then address the degree to which you were responsible for this harm.
There may have been something you could have done differently, but you may not be responsible for everything. Overestimating your responsibility can prolong guilt longer than necessary.
Then understand your state of mind at the time of the harmful action or actions. You can also talk to the people who were negatively impacted by your actions. A heartfelt apology can help, too.
It is important that you and the others know that you are aware of the damage done and that take actions necessary to redeem guilt.
4. Make Changes as Soon as Possible
We punish ourselves by staying guilty instead of making necessary repairs or amends. The sad truth is that this behaviour will only keep you feeling too ashamed to take the action that can really help.
Making restorative changes means that you swallow your pride and trust that others will be grateful for your work resolving the source of guilt.
While apologising, try to avoid justifying what you have done. Simply recognize the others' pain without the distraction of extra explanations or attempts to revisit the details of the situation. It may be much easier to apologize for a scathing remark that caused some pain.
But it will take more honesty and humility when the behaviour has spanned some time, say you ignored your partner's distress about your relationship for years.
5. Write A Diary or Journal
Writing journal entries about the details, feelings, and memories of the situation can help you learn about yourself and your actions. Working to improve your behaviour in the future is a great way to relieve guilt. You can write the following observations:
Your feelings about yourself and everyone involved leading up to, during, and after the situation,
Your needs at that time, and if they were being met. You can also give the reasons why they were being met or not,
The motives and catalysts for this action,
The standards of judgment in this situation. For example, your own or other people's values, and rules come from an institution like the law, or religion. You can also define if they are appropriate standards of judgment, and why.
6. Accept That You Have Done Something Wrong And Move On
You will not change the past, therefore it is important not to dwell for too long on your actions and their motives. The sooner you are done feeling guilty, the sooner you can bring increased focus on more current parts of your life.
While using your journal, keep track of your feelings to show yourself how quickly guilt can diminish once you attend to it. You can also make a note of how making amends and repairing the situation has changed them. This will help you take pride in your progress and in the legitimate ways that you have used guilt positively.
Meditation will help you to dissolve any kind of guilt. By cleansing your mind under the waterfall or illuminating it with Silver Divine Light, all guilt will evaporate and you gain easiness and peace.
Let's meditate together
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In A Nutshell
Today I have described to you some ways how to handle healthy guilt, i.e the one for the wrongs made actually. Writing a diary is one of the efficient ways to overcome guilt. With lots of love and light,
Vicky is an experienced holistic writer and coach that inspires, motivates, and encourages everyone to become the best version of themselves - physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The content of Awaken Happy Life is published for educational and informative purposes only. It does not substitute medical or any other professional advice. Please seek professional care if you believe you may have a condition. The author of Awaken Happy Life is not liable for any consequences of applying any piece of advice published on this website by the reader