It is interesting to note that guilt and shame the symptoms of them are closely related to each other, as both do involve feelings of low self esteem. So it is not healthy to hang on to guilt and shame rather it is better to understand them and how they are affecting you and making the decision to heal those parts of you so you can let your self esteem become healthy. Also when you do get rid of guilt and shame your life will also improve as will your relationships with others.
When you experience guilt it relates to self blame, which will arise when you start to think that you have done something that is wrong, or that you have broken some sort of rule or if you have treated others badly. You will experience this painful emotion when you start to think that other people are blaming you for something or think that you are not a worthy person.
The Esteem gets affected
So the inevitable result of experiencing persistent guilt or shame is that you feel you are worthless, undeserving, and that you are lacking in many ways, so much less than other people. So what you will also experience is that when something does arise that you will not be able to cope effectively as guilt and shame take over and you will experience even more feelings of not being able to cope.
What the warning sign is behind guilt is that it does make us aware of things that we have done wrong, and does help us to develop a better sense of behavior and how it does affect ourselves and of course others. It gives us a prompt to re examine our behaviour so we do not repeat our mistakes. So what are the best ways in which you can combat any guilty feelings that you may have and accept them when they are important, but also to be able to let go of them more easily when they are not that important..
Recognize the kind of guilt you have and its purpose.
What guilt does is help us to grow and mature when our behaviour has been rather offensive or hurtful to ourselves and others. So when we feel guilty for saying something that is offensive to another person, or we focus on our career rather than our family or partner then this is a warning sign with a great purpose, i.e. change your behaviour or you will lose your family, friends or partner. Of course you can continue to choose to ignore your guilt, then you do so at your own risk. This can be identified as healthy or appropriate guilt as it does serve a purpose as it is trying to redirect your moral or behavioural compass.
The problems do arise when our behavior does not need to be re examined, nor does it need to be changed as an example many first time moms will feel badly at going back to work part time as they are concerned about the unknown damage to their little ones normal development, in most cases there is no cause for concern as your little one will develop normally. So there is nothing to feel guilty about yet we will continue to do so. This is identified as unhealthy or inappropriate guilt as it does not serve any rational purpose. So if you find that you are feeling guilty eating 5 icecreams in a row well your brain will try and get the message across to you about your behavior that you are being a little extreme if you do this regularly then this type of behavior can become self destructive and can be harmful to your well being. So the rational aspect of this guilt is trying to convince your to change your behavior.
Implement change the sooner the better.
If you find your guilt is for a specific and rational purpose then do take note and fix the problematic behavior as ongoing guilt will weigh you down as you try and move forward in life. When healthy guilt is telling you to do different to repair relationships that are important to us or our own self esteem, where as when experiencing unhealthy guilt it will only make you feel badly for no good reason. Even though we do know the lesson guilt is teaching us it will keep coming back until you have learned the lesson fully. So the quicker you make the change that is with your behavior ect the quicker the guilt will disappear and if you do succeed then it will never return for that issue again.
Do take responsibility for your actions .
So next time you do something that is wrong or hurtful, do accept that you cannot change the past but you can change the present and the future. Start by apologizing or try and make up for the inappropriate behavior, but also let it go. As the more you choose to focus on believing that you need to do more, this is where it will continue to bother you and interfere with your relationships with others.
Start to learn from your behaviors
Guilt’s main aim is not so much to make us feel bad for the sake of it but rather it is trying to get your attention so that you can learn from the experience. So the quicker you learn the better off you are. So if you hurt someone then your guilt will tell you to either apoligize to the person and also to think before you speak.
Nobody is perfect
No one on this planet is perfect so do not strive for perfection in any part of your life as you are setting yourself up for failure. Do realize that we all do make mistakes and will feel guilty about them. So do not spend days weeks or months of self blame or battering your self esteem as you should have known better and you could have acted differently etc. Just accept we all make mistakes and nobody is perfect.