Guilt is an emotional state of mind which tells an individual what he or she should have done in the best-case scenario. Many times, the lack of external approval while performing certain tasks may give rise to guilt and set one’s mind into a war.
For hours, days, months, and sometimes even decades on end, people keep fighting with these feelings of guilt and in the long run, their self-esteem is greatly sabotaged. Guilt can become irrational or unhealthy if it causes acute distress.
This irrational guilt can stem from any of the following situations:
Clash between value systems: Upon growing up, an individual imbibes a set of values which are transferred from the parents, teachers and others. However, in adult life, if one tries to challenge this value system and attempt something not in line with this system, the fear of rejection from loved ones might give rise to the feeling of guilt.
Being too harsh on self: Some people constantly strive for perfection in whatever they do. But when they fail to stand up to their own unrealistic expectations, it may give rise to guilt.
Living in an abusive or highly disciplined environment: If someone has to put up with an eccentrically disciplined or abusive parent or a spouse, the fear of punishment can internalize as a feeling of guilt.
Guilt can have serious impact on one’s mental health
Guilt can have a debilitating effect on an individual’s overall personality, which can have a serious impact on his or her interpersonal relationships, professional life and mental health. A chronic feeling of guilt can bring about any of the following changes in an individual’s behavior:
- feeling of fear and lack of confidence
- overthinking and a state of depression
- feeling of loneliness and solitude
Clarity of thoughts can play a vital role in separating rational guilt from an irrational guilt. A guilt is rational when an individual knows what he or she should be doing to improvise in an area of life. Such an individual also makes sufficient efforts to understand problems in the existing situation and find alternative ways to reach the desired goal. On the other hand, an irrational guilt is one which develops when an individual sets up an unrealistic goal and in the absence of any plan to achieve it, he or she suffers a failure, which in turn gives rise to guilt.
Move on to overcome guilt
Here are some tips to overcome guilt and live life to the maximum:
- Guilt should be treated as an insight only, and one should learn his or her lesson and try to move on in life.
- After learning about his or her mistake, an individual should practice self-compassion and should forgive oneself because it is human to make mistakes.
- If someone has caused any harm or has been disrespectful to someone, he or she should own the mistake, apologize and move on.
- One should perceive guilt as a sign of change and take steps in that direction.
Guilt can become very disabling and hamper an individual’s growth. It can manifest as constant anxiety or depression, especially for those who are prone to get stuck in vicious cycle of irrational guilt and remorse.
Sovereign Mental Health’s treatment programs specialize in addressing underlying conditions, including negative thought processes, by using innovative treatment methods. If you or someone you love suffers from anxiety, get in touch with us. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online for more information on our mental health centers in California.