You must have heard and felt ‘guilt’ several times in your life. Sometimes, you end up dwelling on this emotion, and then there are times when people invoke this feeling within you. In both the cases, it’s you who suffers the most. To be honest, you don’t need this emotion in your life, especially for things that make you happy.
If you think that guilt is just another emotion that will come and go, then we must tell you that in some cases, it’s here to stay! It lays a trap in such a way that a person’s mental health goes for a toss. That’s why understanding guilt properly is very important.
To dive deep into this emotion, we spoke to Dr Sonal Anand, psychiatrist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai and this is what she had to say.
Guilt is a by-product of over thinking. At times you tend to over analyze a situation way too much that you feel burdened after doing it. This is even if it made you happy!
“The cognitive theory proposes that guilt stems from thoughts. Thoughts that you have or are going to cause harm to someone, or self lead to the emotion of guilt, though it may not be entirely true,” explains Dr Anand.
She adds, “Guilt may prevent us from doing an unacceptable act, and makes us realise that we have to correct our actions. But too much guilt or a condition called ‘pathological guilt’ can have a negative impact on our emotional health. It can totally break the person’s self-confidence, and give rise to thoughts of self-doubt.”
Inappropriate guilt often leads to depression, anxiety disorders, and sometimes thoughts of physical harm. Sometimes, we may not be able to judge the circumstances correctly, and guilt can alter our actions, and give rise to defence mechanisms to further avoid guilt. Wallowing in that guilt can lead to a lot of negativity.
There could be mistakes you are guilty of having committed. But do you know where the problem lies? It pops up when you start doubting yourself in everything you do.
Dr Anand says that these are a few things one should do guilt-free, because that’s what helps them grow.
You should never be guilty for being assertive, and saying no. If you feel that you are being taken for granted or if someone is taking undue advantage, you should never feel guilty about saying no. Many mothers feel guilty about saying no to the child. The circumstances should be studied properly, and only goodwill should be used even if it means saying “ no”.
Choosing your way of living is your birthright, and you should never feel guilty about it. You are the best judge of your own life. No one else can judge your life choices, be it your career goals or choosing a life partner, or even deciding to stay single.
“One should never feel guilty about spending time or money on yourself. You need to keep reinventing yourself and you need a break as well for better outcomes. So, it’s ok to spend on yourself. Of course you have to decide according to your budget, but there should be no feeling of guilt involved,” says Dr Anand.
If you don’t know anything, that doesn’t mean you know nothing. You aren’t Google right? Therefore, you should never feel guilty about not knowing how to answer a question. Nobody has all the answers, so not knowing an answer is not a serious flaw. It’s ok to say “ I don’t know “ honestly, rather than manipulate the answer.
“Whether it’s grieving a life partner or getting a divorce, or choosing to end a dysfunctional relationship… it’s ok to let go and move on. There will always be memories and emotions involved, but guilt should not be one of them,” Dr Anand concludes.
So ladies, next time you go on that guilt trip, just check you are not doing it for the above reasons.