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Sense of Guilt: Definition, Examples, Symptoms, and Advice


Slaves and victims of the sense of guilt we are almost all, some more, some less. It is a feeling that for some is difficult to dispel and that can affect both our mood and our actions, even our life choices in the long run. Each of us has his own particular sensitivity and he probably tends to feel guilty about certain kinds of situations, but the general feeling is we all know and it's time to know how to fight it.

Sense of guilt: definition

It is a common feeling of emotional stress that tells us something we have done or something we have NOT done has caused or could cause harm to another person. Damage means both physical and emotional or any other nature.

There is talk of guilt especially in interpersonal relationshipswhen dealing with other living beings that we fear to harm. We can therefore speak of “pro-social” emotion and not entirely condemnable because there are times when it helps us to maintain good relationships with others since it works as a sort of alert that tells us how to behave in some delicate situations. What to do different in the future, what to do for repair damage caused in the past.

It is important to talk about sense of guilt and not to take this feeling for granted because it is something that greatly affects the quality of life. Just think, as reported in a recent study, that by adding together all the moments in which each of us feels mildly or moderately guilty each week, we reach a rather significant amount of time: about 5 hours.

Sense of guilt: examples

If we look at our typical days, we can all find examples of sense of guilt, from the most banal to the most complex and enigmatic. It can be the regret for not having helped an elderly lady with the shopping at the supermarket, due to too much haste, it can be the feeling of not deserving a vacation, a promotion or a relaxing evening without doing anything. This is precisely what can lead us to give up the little big joys of life, to a party, to a moment of leisure, to an exception to the rule of diet, to an unexpected purchase but to which we care a lot.

If we look closely we discover that they exist two types of guilt, one "external" and one "internal". The first is linked to moralism or to unconscious messages that we carry within us since we are little and that in a certain sense resonate like rules and condition us in our actions and thoughts. "It must not be done ", all for the terror of losing someone's approval, of disappointing, of being abandoned because they are not deserving. Then there is the internal sense of guilt which instead has a positive side.

We can imagine it as a sort of voice that whispers to us when we are going astray or that helps us understand that we are not giving the best of ourselves to achieve our goals. A speech to be sized in the right way because very often we imagine our ideal self which is too ambitious a goal for any imperfect human being on the face of the earth.

Sense of guilt: symptoms

When you have a strong sense of guilt, on a pathological level, the attention is essentially monopolized and it is impossible to think of anything else. If it is a serious situation, the sensation persists for several days and it is not at all easy to get rid of it. Like one invisible but annoying presence, the sense of guilt occupies our mind and does not allow us to concentrate on work, does not let us have fun with friends, it also creates difficulties in following the plot of a film or a book. It is a pounding sensation.

Sometimes, linked to this feeling, there can also be the desire for self-punishment to atone for our sins. If we feel guilty towards someone, it also happens that we tend to stay away from them and avoid contact so as not to increase our discomfort.

When a person has a very low threshold, they tend to feeling guilty not at all and to trigger a stress reaction which, like a vortex, tends to suck and trap any individual. When they are insistent, the feelings of guilt make us even literally feel heavier and fatigued

Sense of guilt: advice

It is not easy to chase away the guilt feelings but with a little tenacity and method you can get good results. For example, let's start calling things by the right name by transforming the sense of guilt for a past action into a responsibility for action for the future. This is a pro active attitude that helps a lot to change mentality and approach.

Not we demand too much of ourselves and we reconsider our value system and our goals in light of who we are today and what we are able to give. Let's take into account that we cannot please everyone and that, in life, we will occasionally arouse disappointment, make mistakes, violate some rules: we are not robots!

To live better, not only free from guilt feelings but also free to love each other, it is necessary to start by forgiving oneself and by taking the past as something immutable, to start paying more attention to the future and above all to the present. The present is the key, it is the most important moment that exists, the one in which we can build the feeling of being deserving.

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