Guilt, as an emotion…

Everyone loves to play as a judge. They are put in a place of high authority and get to wield a little hammer or mallet called a gavel. They slam it down and declare the sentence of the defendant. They either say not guilty or guilty. This variation to guilt means to be culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing. I want to talk about guilt, as an emotion. The standard definition of guilt is the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime. I’m talking about the feeling of guilt: a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation.

Feeling guilt can have a lot of consequences. Guilt can take a toll on your health.”If you’re guilty, you’re probably getting stressed. If your body releases stress chemicals, it puts you at risk for minor stuff like headaches and backaches,” Michael McKee tells WebMD. And that’s not all.”It [guilt] also contributes to cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal disorders. It can even have a negative impact on the immune system over time,” McKee says. “It contributes significantly to depression, as it is very often involves a negative view of self, and to anxiety,” McKee explains.

Why do some people let guilt tear them apart inside? Personality is partly to blame, say the experts.”Timid, insecure individuals may be victims of excessive guilt and constant ‘second guessing’ of themselves and their actions,” says Patricia Farrell, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of How to be Your Own Therapist, A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Competent, Confident Life. “People with an obsessive-compulsive or obsessive-personality disorder or with these traits in their personalities are also prone to excessive ruminating about their actions and driving up their guilt quotient,” she adds.

Change your behavior by starting with small steps. “When you first say ‘no,’ you will still have insecurities about it. After you build a portfolio of successes, it gets easier,” Bauman says. Re-evaluate your expectations. “Assess your accomplishments, or lack thereof, and ask yourself if they’re the right ones for you,” Bauman suggests. “Sometimes, we are moved to do things because it was right for our parents. But your parents’ situation was not your own,” she reminds us. “Identify where that guilty voice comes from,” McKee suggests. “If it’s your mother’s or your fathers’, I ask people to let go of it,” he says. “Keep things in perspective,” urges Natalie Gahrmann, a life coach and founder of N-R-G Coaching Associates. For instance, if you’re trying to get to a meeting on time and feel terribly guilty about showing up a few minutes late, consider the alternative: you speed and get a ticket, or cause an accident. Being a little late is not unforgivable. Stop feeling guilty about making mistakes. “View mistakes as a learning experience, not because you’re a sinful, slothful person,” McKee says.


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