Dealing with Guilt

Guilt will always manifest itself ten-fold, if it’s not addressed. Dealing with guilt is not something we easily manage or remedy either.

Symptoms of Guilt

Guilt interferes with our thoughts and feelings. It’s responsible for denial, responsible for harbouring resentment, particularly if the resentment comes from another person’s behaviour that we unconsciously feel responsible for. That in some way we should have been able to change their behaviour and the presenting outcomes.

I have learned over the years how important it is to understand that if we’re not responsible for other people’s behaviour, then it’s okay to let go. Guilt in itself is harmless, but it’s the attachment of guilt to particular circumstances that makes it harmful. Guilt also leads to criticism and expressing anger at others, sometimes in circumstances where it’s completely unwarranted.

Guilt also triggers reactive behaviour, which goes against our core values. Guilt stops us from moving on, breaks our spirit and stops healthy communication. Guilt is fruitless and never serves a purpose, it simply causes more stress.

We need to rid ourselves of the guilt we feel. We carry guilt whether we’re responsible or not. We also carry it because we think we have no choice. The more independent we are, the more we feel responsible, when we carry guilt. Unfortunately, if the other person doesn’t take responsibility, we own their guilt.

Without letting go and finding ways to deal with guilt we will emotionally alienate ourselves, create unnecessary rifts and live with the most miserable of existences with those around us carrying most of the burden.

I believe the impact of guilt on our health can be so great, it can also cost us our lives.


21 May, 2014

6 thoughts on “Dealing with Guilt

  1. I agree with everything you have said here.

    The one thing I feel most guilty of is not taking responsibility for my daughter while she was growing up. My mother did it mostly, but I can’t take all the blame. I told my mother several times that I was the mother not her and Sarah was my responsibility, not hers. I guess I didn’t get my point across well enough.

    My mother would call me and tell me that my daughter needed her mother and I would agree and tell her that I was always there for my daughter and she knew it. I think that was my daughter’s fault because she would play the victim with my mother.

    I can’t think of anything else I feel guilty about. I agree with you, we need to address guilt and get rid of it. It destroys lives and relationships.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Yes the effect of carrying guilt, is worse than the guilt itself. Your last sentence holds very true. If we don’t address guilt it can destroy lives and relationships.

      It’s a shame your mother chose to stay in the equation over your relationship with your daughter. If and when your daughter got in touch with your mother, she should have told your daughter to speak to you and should have stayed away. From your thoughts Lisa, it sounds as though your mum wasn’t prepared to give up her role, which should have been your role.

      Your daughter was caught up in the middle of you and your mum’s relationship. Although your daughter didn’t help the situation, it’s not a child’s responsibility to sort this kind of problem out. Your mum should have come out of the equation so that your daughter had no choice but to come to you for the help and advice.

      Yes the guilt trip and trail we carry is vast if we let it. When someone has a hold over us, there’s very little we can do to change it unless we cut ties. I know that experience well. It would have been up to your mum to change the situation for you. It was only ever your mum’s responsibility, not yours.

      I hope you don’t carry guilt Lisa, because this isn’t your guilt. Your mum should have supported you as far as your daughter was concerned. She should have let go.

  2. Great post, today. I agree guilt is a terrible feeling and one that is instilled in us from an early age; especially through religion in my view.

    I know from family experience that guilt can have a dramatic impact on our health, making us poorly and as you say even contributing to very serious illness. We have to find a place for these thoughts and feelings so they don’t hurt us, but that can be difficult at times.

    This is something I am working on.

    1. Thank you. I agree with you. I think religion has a lot to do with guilt. I know my mum felt guilty about not being religious enough because her family had strong beliefs where religion were concerned, but towards the end of her life she let go and held on to her spiritual beliefs instead.

      I also agree with your sentiments about finding a place. We must find a place for guilt so it doesn’t hurt us, but allows us to understand why. Why is very important because without why and/or looking at the bigger picture, we will fail to grasp the concept of why someone would do something to hurt us.

      I’m not sure anyone would wittingly set out to hurt someone else. I do, however, think our backgrounds, upbringing, environment and circumstances very much play a part in our behaviour and this is what is played out against us. If we can see this we can understand it and if we can understand it, we can work on finding ways to let guilt go, through our new understanding.

  3. Guilt is one of the many anchors I carry with me in my life, which has made my life truly miserable! My parents put a lot of guilt on us as children for somehow making their lives more difficult!

    If I would have had a choice I would have rather they hadn’t brought me into the world with the way I was treated. Only just recently did I realize that it’s not fair to make your children suffer because your own life sucks.

    They made their own choices and if they didn’t want kids they should have taken the proper precautions to make sure it didn’t happen!

    1. Thanks Randy. I know how you feel, but we just have to find ways to let go so that we don’t continue to struggle. I had got to the point where I was beginning to dislike where I was and how my life was panning out.

      Your childhood was never your fault, but the effects of you carrying your parents’ guilt over your childhood will continue, unless you let them go. It’s fine while you’re managing, but that’s not always guaranteed, depending on what other things we have to deal with.

      Perhaps now it’s finally time to turn your back on at least one of those anchors you talk about. Perhaps it’s now time to let go.

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