Guilt can be likened to an immense elephant sitting proudly on your chest. It’s ever present and without a doubt heavy. The implicating effects of this can be gut-wrenching; even contributing to poor health.
Although the notion that guilt specifically causes common illnesses has not been proven, researchers can agree that stress plays a major role in how our body wards off disease.
Feeling guilty from a decision, past mistakes, or even indulgence can send our mind into a whirlwind of anxiety. In fact, one of the primary signs of a guilty conscious is paranoia.
Shakespeare once quoted, “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.” This leads us to the valuable conclusion that it is a part of our internal moral code.
How Does Guilt Impact Us?
Although it is an unpleasant emotion, it shows that we care about something. For example, if a child cheats on a test and later feels those pangs of guilt, likely he cares about his reputation. In addition, if a wife cheats on her husband and eventually feels guilty, she may care about potentially hurting her husband emotionally.
All of these factors encompass the aforementioned moral code. Without this internal delegation of what is right and what is wrong, humanity would be in a world of trouble. Guilt, in a sense, keeps us from repeating negative actions because we don’t want to have that feeling again.
It impacts our decision making for the better. We may avoid certain situations simply, so we don’t have to go through the guilt process. In a way, past experiences of guilt serve as a future protection against unwise decisions. However, like many emotions, it can become an irrational monster; negatively impacting our daily life.
When Guilt Becomes A Problem
One of the primary signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a guilty feeling over uncontrollable thoughts. This guilt can last for hours, even months at a time. The person is constantly reliving their unpleasant thought paired with toxic affirmations. This makes them believe that they are innately bad.
This is a prime example of irrational guilt that can disrupt an individuals happiness. Guilt has its proper place in the world of emotions, and it is vital that we keep it in its place. Sure, eating a delicious chocolate cake while on a diet may cause some instant regret. However, that feeling shouldn’t stay with you for an extended period of time or haunt you; making you think you are a bad person.
When guilt becomes overwhelming, it is best to take a step aside and analyze the situation.
Great questions to consider are: is this situation really that bad?
Will I regret this a week from now? A month from now
Am I hurting anyone in the process?
Likely, you will come to the realization that guilt over mundane things is counterproductive. It may even prevent you from making actual progress in the future.
How to Cope with Guilt
However, there are certain instances that warrant a self-check. If you are experiencing this feeling over a past action, one of the best ways to overcome it is to face it. Facing guilt means taking ownership of what you have done and make the necessary steps towards correcting it.
Perhaps that means confessing an unwise decision or talking through a difficult choice. By facing this feeling, you are empowering yourself to overcome the emotion. This will help you to make peace with the situation and ultimately move on. Doing so is essential for achieving overall wellness.
Although guilt is a painful and often times difficult emotion, it is important to human development. By understanding the root cause you will learn to make better choices and effectively deal with it better in the future.
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