Let’s define guilt to begin with. Guilt is a negative emotion, where you believe you have done or thought, something wrong. This gives you a sense that you’ve done something against the social norm.
At some point everyone will experience guilt, however, this turns into a negative issue when it’s happening on a regular basis and you find that you’re feeling guilty about one thing or another majority of the time. There are varying degrees of feeling guilty: Some people who feel the guilty majority of the time may find that they’ve got depression, as this negative feeling is too intense to deal with. Others may find that they develop different forms of control issues, such as OCD. On the other side of this extreme are individuals who come across as though they have no conscious, such as psychopaths, sociopaths or may develop a personality disorder.
How do I stop feeling guilty?
Cultures play a big part in how you perceive situations, what the social norm is and how you should and shouldn’t be behaving. Some cultures have a lot more restrictions on how an individual should behave, e.g. with some South Asian cultures, it’s never about the individual or the individual’s needs, it’s about the collective: the family unit. This can lead to individuals within the family collective to feel they have to behave and be a certain way as they represent their family to others. This can teach individuals that they have to conform to their particular norms, which can go against what that individual wants. The individual who steps out from their social norm can often feel guilty for doing so as they’ve been taught that certain behaviours and thoughts are unacceptable, this guilt can make an individual conform and not have to deal with the feeling of guilt, whilst being unhappy for not fulfilling what they want.
In other cultures – it can be about the individual: that individual setting their own social norms which can have the same effect as with someone who is part of a family collective. The individual will then impact themselves and their own life decisions, e.g. which job is acceptable, the type of person they wish to marry and live with the consequence of those choices. This would mean the person is solely responsible for their choices and their own limitations. These individuals can still feel guilty for not conforming to their own social norms as much as individuals a part of a family collective.
The social norms whether created by cultures or yourself can have a major impact on you feeling guilty about something whether it’s behaviour or a thought. These lessons need to be explored in a lot of detail so you can work through your feelings of guilt, change the social norm for you and or work on you focusing on making yourself happy whilst maintaining relationships, as long as this is what you want.