The normal and natural definition of guilt has to do with responsibility for wrongdoing or the regret that comes after wrongdoing, however some people suffer from excessive guilt that even goes beyond wrongdoing, these people feel terribly guilty for doing absolutely nothing wrong, sometimes they feel guilty for the mistakes or wrongdoings of others and start blaming themselves like it was their fault when it’s clearly not.
This sort of behavior damages your confidence and self-esteem, but you can always change it, to do that however you must start with knowing where the feeling of fake guilt comes from.
What Causes People To Feel Guilty When They Have Done Nothing Wrong?
To learn how to stop feeling guilt starts with knowing what causes it and there are two known causes of guilt complex symptoms that we will talk about in this post.
- Guilt As A Defense Against Helplessness.
- Projected Guilt.
These two forms of fake guilt or misplaced guilt come with a barrage of negative emotions, let’s dive into them.
1.Guilt As A Defense Against Helplessness.
This kind of guilt is common with survivors of traumatic events, for example rape victims who in trying not to confront the trauma of the rape and admit their helplessness, start to have negative thoughts about themselves, blaming the rape on themselves. ‘It’s my fault, I shouldn’t have gone out in the night”, “It’s my fault, I shouldn’t have worn that red dress”, these are the kinds of things people who use guilt as a defense against helplessness say to themselves to cope with their trauma. While it might seem strange, feeling guilty can feel better than feeling helpless.
2. Projected Guilt.
This is another answer to the question “Why do we feel guilt?”. Have you ever felt like someone was actively trying to make you feel guilty about something that was not your fault? If yes, then you have experienced projected guilt.
This happens when someone else blames you for something you didn’t do, especially when there was no way you could have done it, for example a wife blaming her husband for not getting a reservation at their favorite restaurant even though he tried booking well in advance but they were just fully booked already. The wife can blame the husband repeatedly till he eventually gives in to negative thoughts and starts to think it was his own fault.
Another form of protected guilt occurs when somebody frequently expresses their disappointment in you. This repetitive expression of disappointment slowly wears you down until you lose empathy for yourself and fully accept that whatever they are blaming you for is actually your fault.
How To Deal With Guilt As A Defense Against Helplessness and Projected Guilt
If you’re someone who has experienced both kinds of guilt then you must have at point wondered “Why do I always feel so guilty?” We have explained the reasons above but we will show you how to stop feeling bad from these two kinds of fake guilt.
When it comes to using guilt as a defense against helplessness, it is usually harder to stop because feeling guilty deflects the mind away from feeling the helplessness that came with the traumatic event. However, trading off helplessness and disempowerment for guilt is never actually better, it can become one of the signs of depression. People who use guilt as a defense against helplessness must learn to accept their limitations and not see them as defects. It is not possible to absolutely prevent yourself from traumatic events, it is only possible to do everything you can to prevent it and sometimes bad stuff still happens no matter how prepared we are.
What’s best is to see a mental health professional about the traumatic event instead of covering it up with feelings of guilt.
When it comes to projected guilt, the first thing you need to understand is that the person making you feel guilty is only doing so because they don’t want to feel the guilt by themselves.
Knowing this, you must then accept that the guilt is not yours but someone else’s emotions. Recognize that what you’re feeling is as a result of an intentional or unintentional effort of someone else to transfer their negative emotions to you and that they just need someone to blame. This consciousness will help you not to feel projected guilt.
How To Not Feel Guilty For What You Did Not Do
Guilt is a powerful emotion, it starts small and slowly evolves into feelings of loneliness, low self esteem until it becomes full blown depression. It doesn’t matter what kind of guilt you’re going through, you can try to be happy again, but it starts with you being able to not feel guilty about what you did not do. Here are some tips that can help you.
- Functional Analysis.
This involves you taking a look at your emotions from a logical perspective instead of an emotional one.
Instead of reacting to things that cause you to be guilty, reason them out. Replace thoughts like an automatic ” It’s my fault” to “How is it my fault?” In the process of figuring out what you did wrong exactly, you will discover that you actually did nothing to feel guilty for.
2. Practice Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about being aware of what we are feeling at the moment without actually reacting to it. Being mindful every moment will help you to observe your emotions as they are happening in a realistic way. When you are aware of what you’re feeling you’d be able to reason it out eventually and determine your further response.
3. Replace Negative Self Talk With Empathy For Yourself.
Negative self talk never does any good for anyone at anytime, instead of doing that be gentle with yourself, if you can be gentle with yourself you can understand yourself better and by extension reduce the guilt you feel until you eventually eliminate it.
4. Stop Judging Yourself.
Judging yourself is a surefire way to blame yourself for anything and everything. Instead of judging yourself and automatically blaming yourself for everything, wait until someone tells you that you did something wrong, think on that and determine for yourself if you are actually guilty for what you were accused of.
5. Accept your imperfections.
There are times when you have done nothing wrong but you still feel guilty, most times it’s because you didn’t meet your own high standards. Trying to be perfect will only lead to more failures, nobody is perfect, so go easy on yourself and you’ll stop feeling guilty about everything.
6. Talk To A Therapist.
If you have tried everything we mentioned and you still feel unnecessarily guilty, a mental health professional can help you better in figuring out how to stop feeling guilty when you’ve done nothing wrong. Visit https://calmerry.com/ , they have a large selection of professional therapists.
If the guilt is not yours, why bear it?
Don’t let what you did not do affect what you do, change your life today and become a happier person.