Guilt, as defined by Psychology Today, is a feeling of emotion that tells you that you may have or will cause harm to another person. Harm, in these situations, can be emotional or physical.
Guilt is a common emotion that everyone will experience at some time. Most people can experience a total of five hours of the feeling each week, according to studies.
However, guilt can have negative consequences. The emotion can cause you to have difficulties concentrating and difficulties completing work. The feeling of guilt can consume your life to the point where you are unable to enjoy yourself or function properly.
In order to prevent the emotion from consuming you, the first thing you need to do is identify the source of the guilt. What is really causing the guilty feelings? Once you identify the source of the emotion, you can pinpoint what you can do to “fix” those feelings.
For example, maybe you are feeling guilty because you made a joke that hurt your friend’s feelings. Or maybe you feel guilty because you are not spending enough time with your family. In the first case, apologizing to your friend can rectify those guilty feelings. And in the second case, you can find ways to set aside more time to spend with your family members. Identifying the source helps you to create a solution.
Next, move on from the guilt. If you have made amends, there is no need to keep dwelling on the negative feelings. However, you still should learn from the experience. Referring to the cases mentioned above, the first case could teach you that you need to think hard before you make a joke, and the second case could teach you that you need to manage your time better.
Guilt is a normal emotion, but it has the potential to negatively impact your life. Learning to manage the emotion is crucial to prevent it from spiraling out of control.