Is guilt a bad thing?

This blog reflects on the useful nature of guilt, and how to know when it's unwarranted

Like Comment

Sometimes clients come into therapy wanting to be absolved of guilt when they have done something they regret. Guilt is painful, and this is a natural instinct. The first step is working out whether the guilt is realistic, or dysfunctional in nature.

It is perfectly normal, healthy, and appropriate to feel guilty when you have done something you would judge someone else for, guilt is a helpful emotion to help us reflect and grow so that we don’t continually repeat the same mistakes. Guilt is only problematic and dysfunctional when you have nothing to be guilty for.

So how do you tell? As a quick test, you can be specific with yourself about what you feel guilty for, and then mentally turn it into a video of you doing it. Then, substitute yourself in the video for someone you love very dearly. Watch your mental video with your loved one doing what you did. If you judge that person for the action, the likelihood is you have good reason to feel guilt.

If this is the case, a therapist can help you to come to terms with your guilt and potential shame, and help you identify how you want to make reparation to heal yourself and others.

If you do not feel your loved one deserves guilt, perhaps you do not deserve your guilt either? In this case, help is out there, both EMDR and integrative psychotherapy can be useful in helping you overcome the misplaced feelings you are suffering.

#feelings #emotions #guilt #mentalhealth #therapy

Fe Robinson, Psychotherapist

Hi. I'm Fe, and I'm here to help you thrive, whatever life brings. I believe every client is unique, I work with you to help you explore, discover and grow in whatever ways are right for you. I work with a wide range of clients, both long and short term. I offer Psychotherapy, EMDR therapy and Couples Counselling to UK clients online and in Gainford, Co.Durham in North-East England. I am UKCP Accredited and an EMDR Europe Practitioner, and offer Clinical Supervision to counsellors and psychotherapists online and in person. Following a career in Organisation Development I became a therapist because it's my heart work. Before having my family and starting my private practice I worked in the NHS and mental health charities.