Some people may describe guilt as the feeling of having done something wrong, illegal, unethical, criminal or immoral. While guilt may have different explanations and descriptions, it is best described as the feeling of having caused harm or inconvenience to someone in some way.
This is where things get complicated when dealing with guilt. You can still feel guilty without having caused harm to anyone, and you can still feel guilty for causing someone harm even if you aren’t responsible for it. It can come across as completely irrational, but for the fact that people do suffer varying degrees of it. This can have major negative effects on a person’s life.
- Guilt short-circuits rational thought, preventing you from thinking clearly and reasonably. Because guilt overwhelms thought, your ability to concentrate and be productive can be severely compromised. This can result in lower grades or lower job performance, or just lower performance in all areas of life in general.
- When you can’t concentrate and perform worse, you start losing interest in your school, hobbies, career. Guilt absolutely negatively affects enjoyment of your preferred activities, and in some cases, can force you to give up doing something you once enjoyed.
- Guilt makes you avoidant. You end up avoiding the people or the situation that makes you feel guilty, even if you are completely not at fault for it. Avoidance is bad for social interactions and general problem solving. It allows problems to stack up and get worse over time, and exacerbates the issues into real problems.
- Guilt also makes some people self-harm. Sometimes this may be physically but more often this is a type of self-inflicted emotional punishment and can lead to feelings of inadequacy, fault-finding, and poor internal self-judgement. This can have a huge negative effect on self-esteem and how we see and relate to people and the world.
Guilt serves a social purpose and helps society into positive actions towards one another, but it can also negatively affect you and prevent you from enjoying life, leading you down into negative self-judgement, and prevents you from being able to do what really gives you joy and happiness.
In order for us to move forward positively with our lives and to be truly free and happy, it’s important to know how to manage any guilt we may be feeling, whether we believe the guilt is earned or not.
Join us at College of Allied Educators to learn more about the limits of your abilities and discover how you can help yourself and others overcome their guilt, doubts, fears, disagreements, and challenges in order to build a happier, more meaningful life.
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