Guilt, How To Indentify And Get Rid Of It.

May 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

love-sick1There are different types of guilt.  There is “healthy guilt” where we have done something wrong, we recognize having done something wrong and so we move to apology and fixing, if possible.  We learn from the experience and we move on without making our wrong action define who we are.

There is the bashing guilt and there is no reason for it as it is a completely useless feeling.

So what is this “bashing guilt”?  That’s when we feel we are bad people and only do awful things.  That’s when we talk to ourselves or about ourselves in ways we would never imagine talking about others.  It’s self-hatred and we feel we must punish ourselves.  So we become our own executioners by beating ourselves up with negative thoughts like: “Everything I do is wrong.  I am a loser, a reject”.  Now how could that be of service to our growth and well being?

The third type of guilt is when we stand up for ourselves and then feel guilty about it because we did.  Let me give an example:  My best friend asks me out to dinner because she really feels like getting out of the house.  But I say no because I’m tired.  So I stay home but instead of relaxing, I spend the night feeling guilty because I disappointed my best friend and feel uncomfortable because I stood up for what I wanted.  This type of guilt usually happens to people with low self-esteem where they don’t think their wishes and desires are as important as other people’s.

While not a therapist, I have learned to dialogue with myself when the bashing guilt raises its ugly head.  First I ask myself: “Am I really that horrible or am I just trying to punish myself?”  “Would I talk to my best friend the way I’m talking to myself now?”

If that isn’t enough I try to get my rational self into this battle by reminding me all the good things I have done and all the people that love me.  So if I’m being rational then I know I can’t be this horrible person I’m trying to beat up because I know I’ve done good things and I have many people that love me.

But the best antidote for feeling the bad king of guilt is to build our self-esteem up.  And when we feel better about who we are and our successes in life than the only room in our lives for guilt will be the kind that will help us identify an action that is contrary to our own moral standards, learn from the experience and then move on.

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