Most of us feel guilt from time to time – it’s part of our human nature and completely normal. From guilt about not spending as much time as we’d like with loved ones, saying no to friends, and so on. And because we’re all unique, we respond to it in different ways.
In its true sense, guilt is a feeling of remorse or sadness over a past action, experienced when we think we’ve caused harm or breached our moral code. It’s our moral compass. Our values and how we process our emotions will all inform the way we react to certain situations. So while one person might catastrophise about a situation, another may not think twice about it.
Guilt falls into two categories – healthy, appropriate guilt and unhealthy, irrational guilt.
Although an unpleasant feeling, ‘appropriate’ guilt helps to regulate our social behaviour. Feeling guilty for a justifiable reason is a sign that our conscience and cognitive abilities are working properly to stop us repeating or making mistakes.
This gives us the opportunity to learn and change our behaviour in the future. The perpetual feeling of guilt is known as ‘guilt-proneness’ and people who experience guilt prone-ness are believed to have a strong connection with their own – and others’ – emotions.
The irrational kind – when we mistakenly assume responsibility for a situation, or overestimate the suffering caused – is another matter entirely and can be very damaging if we don’t take steps to resolve it.
Excessive irrational guilt has been linked to mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, dysphoria (feelings of constant dissatisfaction) and OCD. It can cause sufferers to believe they’re a burden to their loved ones and those around them. Unchecked guilt can also result in flagging concentration and productivity, low mood, increased stress and lack of sleep.
This is where EFT comes in, Jo has worked with more than 300 children and adults to be free from what holds them back!
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