Is guilt a sign of
responsibility - or depravity?
Many people feel paralyzed by guilt.
Do you want to untangle the feeling called guilt, and its consequences?
Your guilt was probably caused by hurting people,
failing your obligations or unconscious entanglements
If you do not resolve your guilt you may feel depressed,
- trying to live a life that does not make sense.
A native Hawaiian healer, Papa Henry Auwae,
told me that the
average tourist carries enough guilt to
kill a native Hawaiian.
Many people try to manage their guilt with alcohol
- or by
ignoring, dissociating or
medicating their unpleasant feelings.
Guilty or Not Guilty?
For most people, guilt
refers to unpleasant lasting feelings about suffering, injustice and a lack of balance.
Many people use guilt, shame and regret feelings to manipulate or
control other people - especially their children!
Guilt may communicate:
- I have been manipulated
- I abused or violated someone
- I have manipulated someone
- I regret real or imagined mistakes
- I see people suffering but I do not help them
- I feel responsible for someone's pain
- I feel confusion for not responding to a
situation in a better way
- I feel remorse for egocentric, aggressive or
- Someone I identify with should feel guilty ...
so I carry that guilt instead
- Someone I am bonded to did something wrong -
and I carry their burden
A sense of justice seems to be part of a sense of life and desire for
happiness. Often, guilt includes
a sense of justice that limits our choices until we amend the injustices.
But if guilt causes people to hate themselves or to deny reality,
then that guilt may lead to depression or withdrawal.
Guilt is associated with depression, obsessions and compulsions. A lack of guilt may result in
people being called psychopaths or sociopaths ... but who decides when you have suffered enough?
We help people resolve guilt by rectifying unfulfilled obligations, having
hurt people and unconscious entanglements - which often includes dissolving
fixations, enmeshments and transferences. We help people grow up
and enhance their emotional maturity.
Guilt, Manipulation & Influence
Guilt is often used to manipulate
or influence people. Some people seem to have studied and used Applied Guilt
either as an art form, a hard-science discipline or as a social-engineering
Some people may have used guilt to manipulate your thoughts,
feelings and behavior (and perhaps you have influences other
people in similar ways). People manipulated by guilt may believe
- they must sabotage their own success
- they are responsible for relationship
- someone will suffer if they do not fulfill a
- they must fulfill demands, even if they do not
- they should feel bad about past, present or
- they must perform tasks that are not
part of their responsibilities
Avoid Guilt ... or Resolve Guilt?
Some distractions that people use to avoid resolving
their feelings of guilt are to:
- become perfectionist
- avoid making decisions
- retreat to inactivity and silence
- ignore your own needs and desires
- ignore most of your emotions and
Guilt can be a useful barometer of your need to live
life based on rational thinking. People who try to avoid feeling guilt may
successfully avoid feeling any emotions. They may lose their ability to
learn from internal feelings and lose contact with their emotional
identity. We often call this Identity Loss.
Guilt & Beliefs
We help people change beliefs by which you may attempt
to rationalize your feelings. Forgiveness is rarely the answer - until you can
truly forgive yourself. Do you try to take one step from sin to forgiveness,
without repentance and restitution? It doesn't work. Unresolved guilt returns as
shame or depression - and although roots can grow deep in the dark, why extend
Do you suffer any of these common guilt-ridden beliefs?
- I do not deserve to be happy
- It is my fault if others are not happy
- I am responsible for my family's happiness
- I am responsible for anything happens to my family
- I must not appear happy when people want me to suffer
Can you Forgive?
For me, forgiveness is a highly abused word. If you are told to forgive
someone ... what does that mean? When I teach in Catholic countries -
I usually ask the class HOW to forgive someone who has hurt you. The most
common answers I hear are typically;
- Lies: "I will pretend to forget your
- Devils' Deals: "I won't remind you of what
you did if you don't talk about what I did."
- Spiritual Ego: "Because I am such an
enlightened being ... I forgive you."
For me - to forgive means to not punish.
It does not mean to forget or to be superior
to. A more important concept in my work is to atone
... we often explore how people can atone for their actions ...
what can they do now to balance hurtful actions in their past?
Inner balance leads to inner peace.
Solutions for Guilt, Shame and Regret
These are some general steps for resolving guilt.
- Who have you hurt ... exactly how did you hurt that
- Decide whether your actions were
appropriate and acceptable?
- If so, acknowledge your behavior - do your
guilt feelings diminish?
- If your behavior was appropriate and you still feel bad -
we can help you.
- If your behavior was unacceptable,
what you can do to rectify the situation?
- What can you learn from this experience that will help
you be a better person?
Do you want
to move on with your life?
Guilt and Maturity
Maturity isn't an award given to good children or for high
school graduation. Some people develop maturity, while other
people avoid it. We can help people check if their reasons
for feeling guilty are valid. And then we help people resolve
any hurtful decisions. Some questions to consider:
- Responsibility. Was it really
your responsibility or fault?
- Reality. Can you overcome
your feelings of guilt, regret and shame?
- Analysis. Can you learn from consequences
and let remorse be constructive?
- Forgive. Normal healthy people make mistakes.
What will you do about them?
- Motivation. If you harmed
someone, is their suffering is a result of your actions?
The consequences of guilt may not fade away. If you
hurt someone, guilt can depress your life, even if you forget
or hide the memory. Guilt can trigger depression, lost sense
of life, self-sabotage, psychosomatic symptoms or even suicide.
Do you want to:
- avoid repeating regretted actions
- forgive themselves ... and understand
- remedy relationship damage or emotional
- change behavior by changing their
communication or focus
- resolve abuse, abandonment or betrayal in
ways that end guilt
Guilt will not alter your past, nor will guilt make
you a better person. However, you can learn from your past and not
deny nor obsess about it. We coach people to dissolve guilt, manage
shame and end regret, and end the unpleasant consequences of guilt to themselves,
their partners and their children.
Do you want to try a little paradoxical coaching?
Make yourself feel as guilty as possible about some trivial memory
for a minute or so, and notice what happens to your emotions, your
memories and your desire to blame or criticize yourself. Then
return to your normal state and notice the liberation.
Invite us to
help you take steps towards a guilt-free life.
Act now - experience how our coaching can improve your life.
Coaching , Counseling and Training for Resolving Guilt
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Martyn Carruthers, 2003-2012 All rights reserved