Can Therapy Help With Feelings of Guilt
Guilt is a common occurrence in everyone, a unique feeling that mixes shame, anxiety and fear, which has a way of controlling the way you act and negatively impacting your life. A study found that if you were to add up all the moments of guilt in a week you feel, it would amount to a whole 5 hours a week! These guilty moments could range from eating the last piece of cake to lying to a friend or family member. No matter the significance, guilt can take hold of your life and can be inescapable if you don’t come to terms with it.
These feelings of guilt can then manifest themselves and significantly affect your self-esteem and self-worth if you choose to ignore them. Constantly suppressing these feelings allows them to build up to breaking point until you eventually snap and suffer a mental breakdown. Whilst guilt can be a powerful motivating source in positively changing your life, it is worth confronting guilty feelings in the moment and holding yourself accountable, as this will benefit you in the long run.
How to overcome feelings of guilt
Name your guilt
Whilst choosing to ignore guilty feelings in the moment may allow you to function on a surface level, soon, you will start to notice a mental tension as you struggle to come to terms with your actions. Try taking a quiet moment to yourself and voicing out loud or writing down your feelings. This way, you can fully recognise and admit to your guilt.
Understand why you’re feeling this way
Sometimes, it can be easy to identify why you feel guilty, and you may be the only person responsible. However, other times you may find yourself asking why you feel so guilty when you didn’t play an active role. Whilst owning up to your mistakes is a brave challenge to undertake. Recognising when you are unnecessarily blaming yourself can be challenging too, those with mental health issues such as anxiety may find themselves taking responsibility for actions out of their control.
Sometimes the apology may not be accepted straight away; however, simply apologising is a step in the right direction, showing that you are taking accountability for your actions. An apology is not only a comfort to someone you’ve hurt; it also is a way of helping yourself as you recognise yourself taking responsibility. An apology means committing to change. Therefore, you may want to go beyond a sorry and talk to someone about how you plan on making amends. Talking to someone is a great way to come to terms with your guilt and helps you share the burden to feel better mentally.
It would help if you took the time to forgive yourself; once you have taken responsibility and expressed remorse, you must practice self-acceptance to return to normality.
Talk to a therapist
Finally, if feelings of guilt persist and starting to take hold of your life, it is worth consulting a professional. Guilt can cause mental health side effects such as depression and anxiety that cannot go away independently—talking through your issues with a therapist like myself can offer an outside perspective when tackling feelings of guilt. Even if you fear judgement for admitting your responsibility, you need to open up to yourself and acknowledge these feelings so that they do not consume you. Conversing in a safe space with a therapist ensures a non-judgemental zone where you can come to terms with your guilt and embark on the path to self-forgiveness.
If you feel guilty and would like additional advice on overcoming these feelings, don’t hesitate to contact me in person or online counselling at https://www.liddycarver.co.uk/. The first step is acknowledging your feelings and recognising the actions you must take to overcome guilt.