By: Terry A Rifkin L.C.S.W.

Guilt is one of the most unfavorable feelings a person can go through in life. Guilt is defined in many ways. It is a feeling of responsibility for whatever negative occurrences or circumstances that affected you or other people, and also a feeling of remorse for negative thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It is a feeling of not meeting expectations, or a feeling of regret for your wrong actions. It is a feeling of regret over not extending a hand to help others, or over not responding to a specific situation in the correct manner. It is also a feeling of loss and regret of not telling someone something when that someone was still around. Guilt is often taken for granted, brushed aside, but in reality, it is very difficult to brush aside since it can manifest itself in countless ways in our everyday life.

Guilt can also be easily used to hurt or to affect a person negatively. Some people can play on your guilt and make you feel even worse to try and manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. Guilt can also be used to pass the blame to you, even though you are not the one at fault. You can also use guilt to limit yourself when it comes to your future actions, because of things you felt guilty about in the past. It also often leads to action, as people who are affected by it also feel that they have to do something to ease their guilt and make the situation better. Thus, it is used as an effective way to take advantage of the guilty party.

In coping with guilt, it is important to recognize it and its many disadvantages in your life. Although it is natural and sometimes constructive to feel guilt since it means you are aware of what’s right and what’s wrong, guilt becomes negative at a certain point. This point is usually when it drives you to irrational or rash decisions or actions, or when someone else falsely uses guilt to play on you.

Guilt, in the negative aspect, can make you feel over responsible for everything, so it will make you work extra hard to make things right. Thus, you tend to give yourself over too much to the goal of making things right, and this can be extremely stressful for you. Guilt also tends to blind you; it makes you want to do anything you can just to satisfy other people. This is a pretty heavy burden to bear.

Aside from that, guilt can put limits around you. You tend to become very conscientious and are practically afraid to move in case you hurt somebody. In the process, you ignore your own wants and needs. Guilt can even change you, or the way you make decisions and what you decide to do in life. Guilt also leads you to do good and generous actions, but for the wrong reasons. Thus, it is important to know how coping with guilt can improve your life.

Coping with guilt also means comparing the situation to one where you are not imprisoned by guilt. At this point, you can tackle each problem area in your life and analyze what the real problem is without blaming yourself. In several problems, don’t be surprised to see yourself taking responsibility that belongs to other people. If so, give the responsibility back. You will also find that some of the guilt you feel is imagined. Such guilt should be resolved by reassuring yourself that the problem is not with you. If the guilt is real, you have to confront the source itself so you start coping with guilt.

Terry is an author and highly sought out expert on eating disorders, depression and anxiety. She frequently speaks to special groups and businesses in the Southern California area and can be followed on her blog at this link.