We have all come across a situation that we have dealt with as best we can, perhaps without having the information or the patience to do so, causing discomfort to another person.
In situations like this, it’s common for guilt to show up. But … what’s the fault? It is a negative emotion that has a great psychological function: it helps us to think about our behavior. and attitudes in order to avoid falling into the same mistakes in the future.
Although it has a positive side, guilt can backfire when it causes us intrusive thoughts that tie us to an unhappy time in our life.
Feelings of Guilt: Why Do They Appear?
Guilt can have different causes and origins. In some people, it may be due to an emotion that started in childhood due to some dysfunctional relationships with other family members or couples. As a result of this bad psychological experience, the individual can crystallize this feeling of guilt even in adulthood.
At the extreme of this feeling, we find “extreme guilt”. It is dysfunctional and unnecessary discomfort that creates our own mind and thoughts. It is essential, in these cases, to know how to identify the causes that cause this discomfort.
Guilt can be rooted in certain cognitive distortions that cause our thinking to function on the basis of bias and partial and irrational interpretations of reality. These thought patterns cause us to take certain everyday situations to the extreme, classifying them as good or bad, which can lead to extreme interpretations that cause us emotional damage.
In addition, people who tend to feel guilty tend to simplify their experiences and are not able to step back and / or relativize what is happening to them, so they are usually particularly negative when evaluating these experiences.
Low self-esteem, a factor that explains guilt
Different studies have pointed out that a common factor in people with feelings of guilt is low self-esteem.. This problem is the cause and effect of malfunctioning social relationships, with a pattern of submissive relationships.
How we deal with this emotion is also a key point in understanding guilt, which can lead to a negative or a positive experience.
How to overcome feelings of guilt?
First of all, when we have feelings of guilt, we need to be aware of it. we are faced with a feeling that plays a role in our psyche as it helps us learn from mistakes that we are committed and do not repeat them in the future.
Additionally, psychologists point out that trying to suppress this experience of pain and guilt is not an effective strategy for dealing with the situation. For these reasons, it is essential that we know how to think and have certain tools to understand and overcome guilt.
1. Treat the situation objectively
To master this obsessive thought resulting from guilt, it is important to face each situation in a positive way, to understand the part of the responsibility that belongs to us but also to know how to weigh the different variables that may have influenced what happened. .
2. Understand that it’s all part of learning
Guilt is how our mind tells us that there is something we have done wrong. This should not make us sad, but rather make us think about how we can improve in the future. You have to use guilt to learn and improve as a person.
3. Practice self-compassion
To get rid of feelings of guilt, we also need to practice self-compassion, that is, knowing how to forgive ourselves for mistakes we may have made in the past. It is not about becoming a victim, it is simply about weighing the situations to fully understand what we could have done better.
4. Understand the complexity of the circumstances
There are situations where the circumstances cannot be controlled and we are overwhelmed by a host of factors.. This is a key point: valuing the influence of variables beyond our control will also make us relativize each situation, and therefore our responsibility will be much more limited.
5. Apologies (and horse)
Taking responsibility can mean taking certain concrete actions. For example, if you feel like you are doing something wrong with someone it is a good idea not to pass the time in vain and apologize. This will allow us to have a better vision of ourselves and to be able to come to terms with this episode of the past.
6. Turn the page
And although we are sure that we have acted unethically and feel guilty about something, you have to have the courage to turn the page. We all make mistakes in life, and if it is not our job to correct them, the wisest way is to learn from the mistake and move on, forgiving ourselves.
7. Explain the situation to someone close to you
To put the situation in perspective it may be a good idea to explain your concerns to someone close to you, such as a friend or family member. That way, they can give you their opinion, and you might find that the situation that is bothering you has been out of your control, so that the feeling of guilt can be relieved.
8. Go to psychological therapy
Sometimes these feelings of guilt can take hold of our minds and plunge us into a state of sadness, anxiety, and overwhelming thoughts. In these cases, it is strongly recommended that you seek the services of a mental health professional.
If you are in a spiral of negativity, a psychologist can offer you a series of resources so you can become yourself again.