If there was ever a thing that was worthy of being labelled as a psychological cancer, it would be guilt. Guilt is experienced universally, yet so poorly understood. Among all the feelings in the world that are intimate to your soul, guilt is the one that eats you up from the inside.
In scientific terms, guilt is a feeling of emotional distress that signals us when our actions or our lack of actions have caused harm to ourselves or to others. Sometimes, guilt is the outcome of doing something that you believe will disappoint a higher power that you answer to. This is why guilt is so closely associated to religiosity.
Regardless of whether you are a person of faith or not, guilt is something that you simply cannot stay immune to. Any person who harbours a modicum of morality or has any sort of ethical beliefs is bound to experience guilt at one stage in life or the other.
It is very difficult to stop the arrival of guilt in your life. However, with the right steps, you can free your mind from guilt and work towards personal development. In order to do that, you need to know more about guilt and the kind of impact it can have in your life. Here are five facts about guilt that you probably didn’t know:
1) Unresolved Guilt Keeps Coming Back
Guilt that remains unresolved can spell disaster for you. It is like locking up a noisy demon inside the closet that keeps howling at you from time to time. Some experts like to compare unresolved guilt to a snooze alarm inside the mind that simply will not shut off. You might be able to clear the guilt from your conscious mind, but it will continue to exist in your subconscious mind. Sometimes, subconscious guilt can bring more dread, apprehension and discomfort in your life than the guilt that you are willing to address immediately. Ignoring your guilt and failing to manage it can haunt you for the rest of your life. You should clean your closet before the guilt grows beyond control.
2) Feeling Guilty Makes It Difficult for You to Concentrate
Are you struggling to concentrate on work? Are you finding it increasingly difficult to maintain healthy relationships with people? Do you feel that your judgement is becoming more flawed with each new day? Then you are probably a person who is crippled with unresolved guilt. When guilty feelings are competing for your attention with demands of home, work, school or social life, then guilt almost always has the upper hand. According to studies that were conducted recently, the presence of guilty can significantly lower concentration, productivity, creativity and efficiency in a human being.
3) Guilt Makes You Reluctant to Live Your Life to the Fullest
Since guilt compromises efficiency, productivity and creativity, people make the assumption that guilt adversely affects brain function. This is not the case. What guilt basically does is that it makes it extremely difficult for you to enjoy life. When you are suffering from guilt, you become reluctant to live your life on your own terms. As a result, you fail to put up commendable performances at work and in school. Guilty people are often misled into believing that they are not entitled to cherish the joys of life. This hypothesis is actually backed up by a study where students were made to feel guilty and asked to choose free items as a reward for their participation in the study. The guilty students chose school supplies while the other set of students, who were not guilty, opted for recreational items such as movie DVDs and music downloads.
4) Self-Punishment Is a Symptom of Overwhelming Guilt
If you have ever watched or read the Harry Potter series, you would be familiar with the elf Dobby who had a weird habit of banging his head against the wall to relieve emotions of guilt and angst. This act is famously known as The Dobby Effect. People who experienced severe guilt are known to punish themselves occasionally or regularly depending on the degree of the guilt. Self-punishment is a bizarre way to alleviate feelings of guilt. One study proves that people suffering from mild guilt are willing to endure small punishment (a mini electric shock) to get rid of the guilt that is burdening their minds.
5) Guilt Can Make You a Resentful Human Being
The really bad thing about guilt is that it leads to other experiences that are far more unpleasant. If you are forcing someone to go on a guilt trip, you are basically planting the seeds of resent in their hearts. For instance, do you not feel reluctant to call people who keep blaming you for never calling them? That reluctance right there is a form of resent. This is why guilt trips are so harmful for relationships.