Defining Emotions: Overcoming Guilt
It’s pretty tough for any human being to live totally guilt-free. No matter how careful we are, we may still someone badly, say something wrong, or do something we regret. At these times, it’s perfectly natural to feel remorse. When we have violated some moral or ethical standard or simply made a mistake, feeling guilty is what drives us to want to make it right. In that sense, guilt is a useful tool because it prompts us to make amends, repent, or apologize. But have you ever felt wracked with guilt over something insignificant, or that wasn’t even your fault?
Once you have done your best to right the wrong, it’s healthy and acceptable to move on and quit feeling bad. Given a little time, we’re usually able to do so. However, the problem with guilt arises when we:
Feel excessively guilty and can’t move on
Feel guilty for things we bear no responsibility for
When You Can’t Move On
While feeling bad about something you’ve done can be a healthy response, excessive or prolonged guilt can become a real burden that interferes with your life. If you’re always beating yourself up over your perceived failures, you may have a hard time feeling joy when you should.
Self esteem may suffer
You might feel like you can’t do anything right
You may second guess your decisions out of fear of “screwing up” again
Feelings of sadness or worthlessness may develop
If you feel like the factors above are affecting you, it’s possible you’re feeling a trapped emotion of guilt without even realizing it. Overcoming this guilt and releasing that energy may be essential to your emotional wellness.
When It Isn’t Your Fault
Sometimes others have a way of making us feel guilty for things we aren’t even responsible for. Maybe guilt was a parenting tactic used by your parents, and that trapped emotional energy makes you prone to feeling wracked with guilt, even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Perhaps you’re so used to taking responsibility for everything that you blame yourself for the way others treat you, thinking you’ve done something to cause their behavior. Maybe your boss is verbally abusive, and you’ve born so much criticism that you’ve internalized it.
Whatever the cause, if you’re wracked with guilt over things you bear no responsibility for, then those guilty feelings aren’t productive — they’re destructive.
Get Rid of the Guilt
No matter the cause, if excessive guilt is affecting you, removing it is critical to your emotional balance. You might have a hard time finding joy until you get rid of that negative energy. Through muscle testing, you can find out whether guilt — or related feelings of shame or self-abuse — are “guilty” for making you feel the way you do. Identifying and releasing those emotions is perhaps the best way to feel like yourself again, so you can move on — guilt free.