Who here has felt guilty about something in their lives? Anyone? Anyone? ($25 gift card to the person who gets the reference).
Oh, just me? I highly doubt that. A word that we throw around so often and yet we don’t even really know what it means or why we feel it. Let me break it down for you.
Guilt according to the dictionary is…
“Responsibility for having down something wrong and especially something against the law”.
So knowing this, why do we always feel it for things that are not our responsibility?
“I feel so guilty I said that and he is now angry”
“I should have done what they wanted instead of what I wanted”
“I feel so guilty that my co-worker didn’t work as much as I did last week”
“I feel so guilty that I don’t get to be with my kids as much as I want due to me having to work”
These and many more are examples of unhealthy guilt. Unhealthy guilt is when you feel guilty for things that are imaginary or beyond your control. One way to deal with this is to understand what you can and can’t control! Often what I see with client is that they are actually feeling shame but they define it as guilt.
I read a perfect description of this a while ago (I think Brene Brown…) “You may sometimes confuse shame with guilt, a related but different emotion. Guilt is a feeling you get when you did something wrong, or perceived you did something wrong. Shame is a feeling that your whole self is wrong, and it may not be related to a specific behavior or event”.
Always look at your intention. What was your intention behind the action. Did you go to work to avoid your kids? I say you could feel a little guilt for that! Maybe time to ask yourself what it is about your kids you are avoiding?? Did you steal a shift at work from a co-worker? Or did you just get scheduled more because of something outside of your control.
ALWAYS check your intention before you just hop on the guilt train and torture yourself. Guilt is often a healthy emotion and feeling! It is a red flag for sure. Don’t know if what you are feeling is appropriate? Run it past me! Maybe I can help.