What to do with a constant feeling of guilt: explains the psychologist
Feelings of guilt haunt us all the time. We can experience it in all areas that exist: work, food, relationships with others and a partner, political views. Even our own feelings can cause us to have a severe attack of guilt. If you want to finally stop feeling guilty, read our material.
Where does guilt come from?
A feeling of guilt is the feeling that you have somehow harmed others or yourself by your actions, thoughts, desires. Initially, guilt as a negative emotion is intended to make a person want to get better. If you accidentally stepped on the foot in the subway neighbor or without knocking entered the meeting room where there was an important meeting, you are likely to become uncomfortable. Feelings of guilt will make you apologize, and the incident will be solved. Quite different is irrational guilt. It occurs when you, for example, eat a package of fast food for dinner, even though everyone around you is talking about how bad it is. But you really want to eat it and already ate. Understanding “as it should” is struggling with the desire “as I want. What to choose?
A person can literally feel guilty all the time. Childhood memories serve as the strongest basis for this. Previously, as a child, you did not want to hug a relative when we met, and you were shamed for it. Now you’ve grown up, and you’re still not eager to talk to people you don’t care about – guilt over that always accompanies you. Since childhood, we are taught how important it is to be “good” and “right. But this does not make us better, we live as we want, but with a sense of guilt.
I did something I shouldn’t have done (or didn’t do what I should have done), and it doesn’t meet my standards of morality.
How do you know if it is guilt that you are experiencing
- Sensitivity about the consequences of any action;
- Anxiety for fear of making the wrong decision;
- low self-esteem or, on the contrary, a very high self-esteem;
- Avoidance of emotions.
Guilt is often confused with feelings of shame . Guilt comes from within – it is called “torment of conscience” for a reason. Shame is an emotion connected with society and its orders, culture. Thus shame is rather transient emotion, as it is connected with other people. And guilt is born inside and can accompany a person for a long time.
People with depression tend to experience irrational feelings of guilt along with helplessness, lack of motivation, sadness and loss of strength.
– Guilt often serves as a boundary regulator in our relationships with others. Sometimes the guilt that comes helps us to realize that a mistake was made somewhere, that you were wrong somewhere. Then an opportunity to apologize opens up, to admit our imperfection, to offer a solution to make things right. But there is also destructive guilt. It accompanies a person regardless of the offenses committed. It is a compulsive state in which a person stays permanently. Behind a constant feeling of guilt may hide a fear of being unaccepted, a fear of loneliness, the desire to feel needed.
What to do if you constantly feel guilty
A person wants to be loved, respected and accepted. These are basic needs, very important for mental well-being. However, what we blame ourselves for very often does not change us for the worse.
Guilt is often born from being too hard on ourselves. How often do you allow yourself what you really love? And do you always love what you do? Being too hard on yourself not only traumatizes the soul, but also leads to an accumulation of desires. Famous story: a month prohibit yourself chips, and then eat a whole package in an evening. Do not blame yourself – it is better to figure out what it is that you do not have enough. Perhaps not chips.
Try to identify situations or incidents in which you feel guilty. You didn’t call your parents, went on a frivolous date, missed several workouts in a row, worked too much, or, conversely, decided to take a break from business.
Write out at least ten situations in which you feel guilty for no apparent reason. Think about what the guilt is related to in each situation and write it down next to it. For example:
- spent all day in bed on the weekend – I’m supposed to be productive, but I’m being lazy;
- I haven’t talked to my mom in a week – good kids should be interested in how their parents are doing;
- went on a tinder-date – a proper relationship doesn’t start with communication on the Internet.
Try to analyze the beliefs that carry guilt. Where did they come from? Do you really feel that way?
Imagine how you would feel without the guilt. Would you feel bored or relieved? Even this may be a clue.
– Ask yourself: did this happen because of me? Is there anything I can do about it without hurting myself? You need to recognize that your feelings of guilt are destructive. It is a neurotic state that prevents you from experiencing happiness and well-being.
Often behind feelings of guilt is a fear of losing the love of others. This is where the scheme comes into play: I have refused or made a mistake, so I am bad. I will be considered bad and will not be loved. I will be alone.
It is frightening to be alone, that’s why in every convenient and inconvenient case the guilt and desire to apologize and be guilty before everybody is activated. Man is ready to bear any moral, time and material losses, just to remain good in the eyes of others. Just to be loved.
Instead of being afraid to lose the love of others, learn to give yourself the love yourself. Remind yourself often that guilt is actually the fear of losing the love of others. Tell yourself:
How to get rid of guilt forever
Like any negative emotion, guilt is extremely uncomfortable. It creates clamps in the body and it interferes with normal blood circulation. This is how diseases of the internal organs and systems can appear. Any negative emotion that gnaws at a person must be eliminated. This is important for physical health and psychological comfort.
What is guilt: definition in psychology
To begin with, let’s understand the terminology. Sense of guilt is characterized by psychology as deep regrets about the offense in view of the negative consequences for themselves and others. It is inherent in everyone. Only people with mental disabilities may not experience it at all.
It is normal when a person feels guilty about his/her deed for a short time. Regrets lead to the thought: “We need to fix this as much as possible. At this point the emotion begins to fade. Feelings shift to correcting mistakes, making amends. But if guilt gnaws 24 hours a day, does not give rest, such feeling of guilt is recognized by psychology as pathology.
Causes of feelings of guilt
Painful feelings of guilt often arise in people who find themselves in difficult situations. For example, a person who survived an accident may feel guilt over the deceased. And this is a distorted, wrong emotion, because such things happen by chance, they cannot be controlled.
A similar situation will occur with a child who has been conditioned to feel guilt toward his parents. For example, a single mother who shows her son that she did not marry because of him will instill in the child a huge inferiority complex. The child will grow up, away from his mother, because subconsciously he will feel ashamed of her. And this feeling of rapprochement is not conducive. Only if the mother does not manipulate this to control his life. Then there is another painful extreme: unreasonable attachment, which should have worn off when the child was 5 years old.
Any other situation can be the cause, there are thousands of examples.
The mechanism of emergence.
Let’s consider a simple example. A child is constantly scolded as a child. Parents try to be strict or demonstrate intemperance toward the young son. He understands that he stops being scolded when he begins to apologize. This is embedded in the child’s fundamental ideas, in his psyche. And then the distortion goes on. The boy begins to perceive the imposed feeling of guilt as a way to escape from difficulties, as something that saves him, protects him. This mechanism will be activated all the time, in all situations, even those that do not require this emotion. The child will grow up and constantly blame himself for all his sins. This gives rise to insecurity and incompetence.
Guilt complex in psychology
The guilt complex in a child is expressed in his inability to live normally and feel happy. This feeling is constantly present in his life, bringing a negative into it. It is very important to recognize the complex and address it.
The cause of guilt in men and women in psychology is often recognized as a strict upbringing. Parents use a system of encouragement, instilling in the child that he is obliged to live up to their expectations. Such individuals do not live their lives: the complex pushes them to constantly try to please the parents’ will. Children do not go where they want to go, but where their parents tell them to go. Guilt follows them through life. They feel all the time that they are not good enough at what they do.
Another cause of the guilt complex lies in insecurity. A person becomes withdrawn and takes all blunders and failures that happen to him in life at his own expense.
How the pathological feeling is expressed
Here are a few signs that a person has developed this complex.
- Excessive resentment;
- A tendency to self-injury;
- lack of faith in oneself;
- a rejection of perspectives and aspirations;
- a desire to punish oneself; the person does not like oneself;
- desire for the person to be guided;
These signs indicate that the complex is fundamentally embedded in the individual. In most cases, it occurs as early as childhood.
It is worth noting that guilt is closely related to psychosomatics. At times, a person faces a number of unpleasant symptoms:
- frequent colds;
- disorders of the heart and blood vessels;
- problems with the musculoskeletal system;
- frequent injuries.
In particularly severe cases, self-harm and auto-aggression (conscious or unconscious self-injury) occur.
How to get rid of guilt
At the heart of almost any complex is fear. Guilt is also anger. The degree of complex development, reaction to it and consequences depend on the concentration of fear and anger in the cocktail of human emotions. Anger appears as a result of condemnation.
Fear is the basis. A person is always afraid of something:
- To lose the respect and approval of others;
- to lose a relationship, a loved one;
- loss of self-respect.
All this makes one turn to the roots of the problem. It is necessary to sort yourself out, to imagine the most undesirable outcome of events. Most likely, nothing terrible will happen. You will get the disapproval of someone very significant. So what?
So how do you deal with feelings of guilt? Understand some simple truths:
- You don’t have to conform to someone else’s expectations.
- You are a whole person, a separate entity.
- Relatives do not have to control you. You can be a radically different person.
- Love is not built on meeting expectations. That’s manipulation by feelings. You must be loved as you are, for you will be no other. People are born with a ready-made set of personality traits. Upbringing only makes a small contribution. “From an aspen tree do not come oranges.” “The apple comes from the apple tree.”
One more thing. You don’t owe anyone anything. Don’t exaggerate your sense of duty. Everyone has their own framework and ideas.
Guilt: Gestalt Psychology
Pathology is often based on an unfinished Gestalt. In psychology, this means that a person experiences intense guilt because of their inability to go back in time and correct the situation.
The remorse can be so powerful that the person simply cannot cope with it independently. The person is aware of the problem and tries to correct it. This requires the help of a psychotherapist or productive work on oneself.
The method of public contrition
How to cope with feelings of guilt in this way? Psychology offers a method of public contrition. The person is ashamed of his actions and keeps the problems to himself. It is necessary to choose a group of people to whom one can tell about them. The fear of condemnation will be conquered. Instead of condemnation, the person will receive compassion and understanding. This is the way they work in groups at psychological sessions. You can tell your friends who will be able to listen and understand.
It is very important to talk about the problem. Fear, which serves as the foundation of feeling, will be destroyed.
Working with introjects.
How to remove feelings of guilt? Let’s learn a psychological technique that allows us to get rid of false attitudes that we have adopted and internalized in childhood.
Write down on a piece of paper all the demands you make on yourself.
- I owe to those around me;
- I have an obligation;
- morality and duty obligate me;
Any thoughts that you think are true about these points should be written out and reconsidered.
If you write, “Must do well in school” or “Must earn well,” then no, you must not. A grade in school has nothing to do with you personally. It’s an assessment of how well you’ve learned the material given your particular life circumstances. Earnings are not an indicator of human nature, either. Many famous people – politicians, inventors, actors – once started out as pizza delivery men. Such things should not affect an individual’s self-esteem or make him feel guilty. All of this is temporary and can change at any time. Saving the drowning man is a matter of the drowning man himself. Everything is in your hands.
“I have to be slim” is a common female attitude. The constant feeling of guilt in front of everyone: “I owe it to them.” No, you don’t. A woman doesn’t owe anyone anything. A woman can look the way she feels comfortable. A man who forces a woman to conform to his ideas of what is beautiful is stupid, short-sighted, unfair, and selfish. It’s not a good idea to spend your whole life wondering if you’ll be loved if you gain weight. A woman shouldn’t feel guilty for not conforming to someone else’s expectations.
How to get rid of guilt: simple psychological techniques
How to overcome feelings of guilt on your own? Psychology knows the answers. These techniques are suitable for self-practice.
Ask for forgiveness
How to overcome feelings of guilt? If you are guilty in front of someone, talk to that person, ask for forgiveness. Tell them how much you are hurting. You may find understanding and sympathy. And if not, you did what you could. It’s up to you to admit your mistake, to ask for forgiveness. And what the recipient of the apology will do with it is the responsibility of his conscience.
All people make mistakes. Life is given to us without instructions. Forgive yourself for being only human.
Imaginary moral judgment.
How do you overcome guilt? When you mentally condemn yourself, remember to give your word a line of defense. Otherwise, it’s not fair. Yes, you are guilty. But you must defend yourself. Make an argument, explain what you did. Perhaps the prosecution will lose if the defense starts working. A sentence can always be appealed.
Confront the accuser.
When another person accuses you, defend yourself. Not all situations are one-sided. To get the accuser to stop punishing you with words, apologize right away. This will disarm the adversary. Then tell your point of view. Say you understand the person. Such a confrontation is better than empty accusations and yelling. The important thing is that you don’t blame yourself. This feeling is not helpful. Don’t let others use this technique to manipulate you.
Remember that the absence of guilt is a myth. A healthy psyche needs it to benefit from mistakes. That’s how we learn. But regretting them is pointless. The past is behind us. You can’t fix it. You have to move on, here and now. Do everything in your power to make up for your mistake, to redeem yourself. Forbid yourself to worry about it. There is no one person in the world who has not been guilty in front of another.