Why is it that we feel guilty about things that we really have no reason to feel guilty about? Normally I start a blog with a topic that I have an answer to. However, in this case I don’t. I am writing this simply as a way to vent and in hopes that someone may have some insight.
I know that for myself I constantly struggle with the feeling of guilt regardless of who is really at fault. Sometimes, there is no fault, yet I take it anyway. It does prompt the question, where does this come from?
For a long time I think that this has resulted in people taking advantage of me. I felt badly about something that happened when I had no reason to, and as a result someone was able to make me feel like I owed something in return to make up for what I had or hadn’t done.
I was in a relationship with someone who constantly made me feel guilty for the things that he lacked. I now see that it was a projection and a way for him to cope with his feelings of inability. For example, he did not have a job when we met and made very little effort to find one. When I would confront him about his lack of discipline to find work, he would turn the argument around making me out to be the bad guy. My need for him to help contribute and pull his own weight meant I was being “unsupportive and pushy.” I would feel guilty for how I was acting and as a result offer to take him out to a movie to make up for my “uncalled for behavior.”
Thank the Lord I was able to see that this was unhealthy and leave. For two years though, I let my feelings of unnecessary guilt lead me into scenarios where I was putting someone else’s needs and wants ahead of mine. This wasn’t the first time I had been in a situation like that either (not relationship wise but with friends, family, work, etc.). It simply took being in that relationship for me to see that my feelings of guilt tend to be on the extreme side and can ultimately be destructive.
While guilt is not a pleasant feeling, it is necessary, but only to a certain extent. It helps us be mindful of our wrong doings and prevents us from committing further damage. However, what about when guilt is being felt for no reason at all. Sociopaths lack feelings of guilt and empathy which give them no understanding of right and wrong. In turn, they can be capable of committing unspeakable acts with no penance whatsoever. Therefore, the absence of guilt is extremely dangerous. But what about too much guilt; can’t it be just as concerning?
I have now reached a point where I am aware of my strong sense of remorse regardless of it being appropriate or not. I have been able to identify when I am feeling bad about something I truly should feel sorry for and when I have no reason to. This has now helped me prevent being taken advantage of in the future. As aware as I am though, the feeling still remains.
My question to all those readers out there is this; have you ever experienced this too? If yes, how did you manage to make the feelings of guilt go away and what causes such a distortion of emotion?
Thankfully it no longer controls my actions, but regardless, the feeling being there is still difficult to deal with. If anyone has any feedback it would truly be helpful to me and anyone else struggling with this.
If anyone would like to contact me personally, I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org