Are you guilty of holding guilt?

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“Guilt: Punishing yourself before God doesn’t”   

-Alan Cohen

Haven’t we all been guilty of drowning in guilt and self-pity at some point of our life? 

I am guilty of harbouring guilt just like everyone to the point of self-sabotage. I have been through different phases of guilt being a mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, career-oriented professional, The most dangerous of them is when I let it make a home inside me. Unaware of how it was eating me from within, I still kept working outwardly.  

Can guilt be channelized to be positive?  

In today’s post, I am discussing how guilt agonizes most women in active careers today. Almost each of us has gone through the pangs of guilt at some time in our life. 

How does guilt serve you? Does it make you become better or worse? 

Anticipation and experiencing guilt has its pluses. It’s the after effects and dwelling in guilt is what causes pain. 

The positive effect of Guilt holds us back from harming others and encourages us to form relationships for the common good.  

Most women that I have been speaking to – homemakers, in jobs, businesswomen, I am noticing a similar pattern of guilt which tears them between balancing their careers, and their family time. More so the guilt surfaces for parents with giving quality time to their kids. I can feel for them since I had been in a similar situation earlier. 

Guilt is one of the powerful emotions.

How we use it and in what context can make all the difference!

Let me first go through the side effects of harbouring guilt.

I am sure most of you would have gone through these phases. 

Guilt imprisons you, It ties you down. 

  • It does not let one find constructive solutions. In fact, it will pull you down in the throes of agony. 
  • Dwelling in guilt makes one get into the victim mentality. How much of that situation can you change? How much of that situation was in your control? Does the situation warrant feeling regretful for life? 
  • Guilt breaks down the mechanism for clear thoughts thereby leading us to make more mistakes and getting sucked into it more. It is like quicksand- the more you beat your hands and legs to come out of it, the more you get pulled into it. 
  • We punish ourselves more than anyone else can punish us which is also known as Self-inflicted punishment.  This directly affects self-love and self-esteem.

But guilt is not always counterproductive. It helps us get a sense of conscience, our values. Also, it can help us realign and shift things in our life. Guilt helps us to preserve social bonds. It aids in the acceptance of our mistakes while we correct the wrong. It adds an element of empathy. 

Good news is that it can be moderated! But first step outside of it. 

Breaking that shackle of guilt means to be first aware and then accept. Guilt can build a fortress around which can make you hollow within. Guilt induces the shame which in itself is a destructive emotion. 

How do you channelize your guilt? Do you get sucked into the abyss of guilt? 

Self-Awareness and self-regulation can help you overcome the side-effects of guilt and help you channelize it to create productive results.  

Have you tried reframing your guilt? 

Rather than using terms like “I am guilty of ____”, reframe it to “I did a human mistake which I understand now and can work upon being more aware”.

It changes your state from a blame frame or victim towards an outcome frame. It opens avenues for getting to the root of the problem and getting it right. 

You do not need to beat yourself down for that one mistake, or oversight that lead to a challenging situation in your life. Accept responsibility, dwell on it for some time, heal yourself and take charge and walk out of it with precious lessons.  

Let yourself free and enjoy the process of life. Don’t get weighed down by it, break the shackles, and soar high!! 

Do let me know how you deal with your guilt pangs? What has successfully worked for you and what hasn’t?  Do you feel what I shared above would help you gain an additional perspective about guilt?

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