Guilt happens to everyone. It is mixed feelings of shame, frustration, and humiliation. At some point in your life, you may have felt guilty about something you did, and sometimes you may have felt guilty when you haven't done anything wrong. So are your feelings of guilt warranted or false?
There are times when you may feel overwhelming guilt for no reason. Even when you've done nothing wrong, it can weigh on your conscious mind and make you feel terrible. When it happens quite frequently, it can lead to other problems, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, insomnia, and self-sabotaging behaviors.
To solve this problem, you must first understand why you feel like this. Here are some possible reasons you may feel unwarranted guilt.
It Has Something To Do With Your Childhood
Your feeling guilty for no reason at all may be due to what you experienced growing up. You can trace it back to your childhood, which is a crucial development stage for everyone.
For instance, your parents may have focused on your being successful in everything that you do, and anything less is not acceptable. As such, your inner critic has been a loud voice in your head. Whenever you fell short of what was expected from you, you felt guilty, even worthless. The standards may have been too high, and you feared rejection.
There's Something You Didn't Do But Considered Doing It
We all have our personal moral and ethical standards. So, just the thought of doing something that will deviate from your principles is enough to make you feel guilty. You may not have done the act, but simply what you were contemplating makes you feel bad.
You Actually Think You Did Something Wrong
Sometimes, you didn't do anything wrong, but you still feel like you caused it. For example, you may have wished something bad for someone you don't like (or even someone you do like but at a low time) and then what you thought materialized. You feel guilty, thinking that it happened because you wished it. You assume it's your fault and that your thoughts have brought it into being.
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You Think You Should Be Doing More
You may be a compassionate person, so you want to help other people as much as you can. When you are unable to fulfill your commitments, because perhaps you're already fatigued or overwhelmed, you feel guilty. It weighs on you that you are not doing enough as you believe you should be.
Abusive People Are Manipulating You
There are also times when you are surrounded by abusive people who make you feel guilty for their own reasons. It may be an abusive boss who makes you feel bad about not working overtime or a friend who makes you feel guilty about not spending time with them even you had a valid reason not to do so.
Recognize the Signs That You Are Experiencing False Guilt
It can be difficult to determine when your guilt is valid or false. However, knowing when and why you are experiencing false guilt is crucial so that you can consciously make an effort to turn things around.
Some of the signs include:
- Needing to always please people around you
- Difficulty asking for what you want or identifying what you want in life
- Difficulty asserting yourself
- Feeling responsible for everyone and everything
- Struggle in asking for support
- Putting other people's needs above yours
What to Do to Stop Feeling Unwarranted Guilt
When you realize that you've been feeling unnecessary guilty when you did nothing wrong, stop. If it is at all possible, it is best to seek professional help so that you can be guided on how to overcome it properly. In any case, you should make the decision to focus on yourself first. Learn how to tune out your inner critic and practice self-compassion.
Guilt can be good for our own moral and social guidance and to help us make corrections. However, when you feel guilty for no valid reason, the feelings accumulate over time and can lead to serious mental health problems. Know when your guilt is warranted and when to seek help to overcome it. Be kind to yourself and know that you've done the best you could. There are many things beyond your control, and it's okay to put yourself first before others.