Guilt is something we have probably all experienced at some point in our lives. In this blog, we are going to take a look at how to overcome guilt!
What is Guilt?
Guilt is a private emotion implying a negative self-evaluation against one’s standards. In other words, guilt implies blaming yourself as responsible for something you shouldn’t do. Experiencing guilt often results in a person’s self-esteem suffering some blows! Brene Brown says, “I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful—it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.”
What Does Guilt Look Like?
Guilt can come in all shapes and sizes, and can happen at any age range! This can make it hard to recognize if guilt is exactly what you’re experiencing.
The most common precursors of guilt are:
- Failures at responsibilities/duties
- Neglecting a loved one
- Breaking a diet
People who are experiencing guilt symptoms, often feel the need to make amends. This could include saying sorry, undoing a task, paying someone back the money you stole, etc.
How To Overcome Guilt?
It’s common to make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can and do hurt others. Attempting to fix the mistake or otherwise making amends may be a good first step to reduce feelings of guilt. Sometimes this is not possible, or no longer in your control. Forgiving yourself and showing yourself compassion is a great way to improve some unpleasant symptoms and effects of guilt. Self-improvement techniques such as understanding what you should have done differently is an indicator of self-forgiveness. The adaptive aspect of guilt is that it can better inform us about our values and morals and how we respond in our daily lives. Counseling can also be very helpful for overcoming guilt. According to GoodTherapy, this process involves acceptance, forgiveness, and self-compassion.
If you are struggling with guilt, please know that you are not alone! Our counselors at Garrett Counseling have experience working with clients who are trying to overcome guilt. Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online to get started.
This article was written by Maegen Harris, a mental health professional at Garrett Counseling in Boaz, AL. Learn more about Maegen here.