Guilt Articles

Guilt is an extremely uncomfortable feeling where a person has regret and shame over something. Many times people feel guilty when they do something that goes against their morality, or guilt comes from realizing you've harmed someone. Guilt can be so overwhelming that it impacts interpersonal relationships and daily life. Guilt is a feeling that all human beings feel for different reasons, but no matter the source, it’s painful.

Here you will find articles about how guilt manifests in human behavior. Read about what causes guilt and find ways to cope best when you find yourself feeling guilty. You don’t have to suffer from guilty feelings; there are ways to deal with those emotions.

How To Stop Blaming Others: Start Making Positive Changes In Your Life

Sometimes life isn’t going to go the way that you want it to. Everyone encounters setbacks in life and it’s normal to fail a certain amount of times before you can succeed...

Learning To Cope With Toxic Shame

Have you been struggling with feelings of worthlessness? You’re not alone since many people are trying to cope with toxic shame. Toxic shame is a term that refers to the...

Dealing With Guilt: Definition, Coping Mechanisms, And Prevention

Guilt is a universal emotion. Everyone has experienced guilt at one time or another, whether that guilt was earned or not. For some, guilt is a quick pang that comes after...

Forgiving Yourself: How To Deal With Guilt

Guilt has been a giant topic of discussion for many subjects: philosophy, therapy, religion, just to name a few. One would imagine with all the time spent on understanding this...

Guilt Quotes To Help You Overcome And Move On

Guilt is something that every person experiences from time to time. Guilt is a result of doing or saying something that we know we shouldn’t have said. The feeling of guilt can...

Aspects Of The War Guilt Clause & What It Tells Us

Now, it’s time for some history. In this post, we shall discuss Article 231, or the War Guilt Clause. For those who are into studying the World Wars, this is an important clause...

14 Guilt Synonyms and When to Use Them

There are a lot of times when you might feel guilt, or someone might try to make you feel guilty. It could be for something that you did, or it could be for something you didn’t...

Initiative Vs. Guilt: A Stage Of Psychosocial Development

During the psychosocial developmental stage of initiative vs. guilt, children have specific needs that may not be obvious to their parents. Childhood isn’t easy. We know this...

Guilt Vs. Shame: What’s The Difference And Why Does It Matter?

Guilt and shame are two words we use almost interchangeably. They’re both used to describe a reaction to something bad about ourselves. The two words do not mean the same thing...

First Steps Towards Overcoming Survivor's Guilt

Trauma, adversity, tragedy – often when instances like these affect the lives of those around us, they serve as a wake-up call or as a catalyst for introspection. We offer our...

Understanding Guilt By Association

Guilt by association, also known as the association fallacy, is officially defined as “guilt ascribed to someone not because of any evidence but because of their association...

Understanding Why You Are Wracked With Guilt

A degree of guilt can be fairly healthy. Guilt is officially defined as “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc.” However, habitual feelings...

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA

What is Guilt?

Guilt is a real emotion. It’s an internal state of being where you feel like you caused another person harm or pain, whether that’s physical or emotional distress. Some people believe that guiltiness is a good way to get someone to do something for them, but it’s not healthy to try to accomplish your goals by making the other person feel bad or guilty about their actions or themselves. Feeling guilty isn’t a good way to motivate someone to do something for you. Guilt isn’t a positive feeling, but rather a negative emotional state. Guilt is grouped with loneliness, pain or grief.

man looking down with his eyes closed


Self-Imposed Guilt

When you feel guilty, you’re probably blaming yourself for the action you took to hurt another person. It’s a natural feeling to want to have an explanation for why the individual you love is suffering. You want to understand it, and guilt allows you to place the blame on yourself. You have a reason for your feelings of guilt, and you’re able to point to yourself as the cause. You punish yourself, so you can explain what’s happening. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism, but it happens to a lot of people.

You May Feel Guilty For Things That Aren't Your Fault

“Survivor’s guilt" describes the feeling of guilt someone gets when they survive a traumatic event that others didn’t.

They feel like they have done something wrong, or feel guilty for being lucky enough to survive. Survivors of natural disasters or attempted murder may have survivor’s guilt. People who have a loved one who died by suicide can also experience survivor's guilt. Survivor’s guilt is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the DSM. The condition of survivor's guilt is an example of how people take responsibility and feel guilty for things that aren’t their fault.

Guilt & Resent

People who give guilt trips try to manipulate or attempt to control others.

When they try to guilt the other person, it can cause guilty feeling person to then feel resentful. The “guilt tripper” thought they were taking control over the person or situation, but in reality, they’ve caused more harm than good. The object of their manipulative behavior is frustrated, resentful and turned off. By giving a guilt trip, you run the risk of alienating the other person. You might say something like “You ruined everything. I don’t want to talk to you.” The other person feels bad, but then after processing those feelings, they don’t want to talk to you, because they don’t appreciate how you treated them. Guilt can be extremely detrimental to relationships, and it’s best to avoid using it as a tactic to try to get what you want from another person.

two women sitting across from each other against a window


Guilty Feelings:

You Feel Guilty Because...

You might feel guilty when you’re avoiding conflict. You know something is wrong, and you need to talk to the other person, but you don’t want to deal with the issue. Avoidance can cause guilt. You may not realize that you’re feeling guilty from avoiding conflict, but once you do it’s essential to face the problem and talk to the person. Your guilty feelings will decrease, and you’ll feel much better. Having unresolved issues will continue to nag at you, and you’ll likely experience guilt, anxiety, and uneasiness. It’s best to deal with guilt, the problem at hand, and stop avoiding it.

How “Should” Isn't Helpful

You might feel guilty by using a particular word: “should.” When you tell yourself you should do something, it’s self-shaming. The word “should” makes a person feel guilty about what they’re not doing. It inevitably causes the individual to feel guilty when they don’t need to feel that way. They may feel responsible for things they don’t need to fix. The person might believe they need to help people that they’re not responsible for, and they find themselves feeling guilty. When you find yourself starting to use the word “should,” remember that you’re the master of your destiny and you have the choice as to what you can do in your life. Ask yourself “am I doing all that I can?” If the answer is yes, then there’s nothing else you “should” be doing. You don’t have to cause yourself guilt unnecessarily.

Guilt Counseling

Online counseling is a great place to explore why you’re experiencing guilt. People who struggle with overwhelming levels of guilt might be at a loss as to what to do with them. That’s where a licensed online counselor can help! Speak to an online therapist or grief counselor here at BetterHelp about strategies as to how to deal with your guilty feelings. You are not alone, and many people deal with shame and guilt. You can get through these feelings in therapy. Search through our network of skilled online therapists and find the right one for you.

a smiling woman sitting at a desk by a window


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