The ‘Why’ factor in Guilt

Credit: jscreationzs

I often hear from clients that they feel guilt when someone misbehaves with them or treats them unfairly. They feel guilt even though it wasn’t their fault.

Guilt can be looked at in two ways.

  1. Guilt that is proactive – When you have made a mistake and you feel guilty about your behavior then guilt can act as a driver for changing that behavior.
  2. Guilt that is redundant – The guilt as a result of self hatred. This is the kind of guilt I’m addressing in this article. This guilt arises due to a tendency towards self blame for everything.  Any misbehavior, failure in relationship, infidelity by the partner, injustice by another person makes one feel responsible and self blame ensues for any unfairness shown by others. Anger towards self is also a part of this. There is a feeling of victimhood. “I deserve this treatment as I’m unworthy”.

The focus of this article is on Guilt that is caused by someone else’s mistake.

Why do you feel guilty for someone else’s misconduct?

Is it because you feel safer in feeling guilty than accepting what has happened?

OR

You cannot let go of that incident because you always want Reasons?

Often a person who has low self image feels safer with guilt than putting the blame on the other person. Our culture teaches us that we should not be judgmental or angry.  In fact, I feel that people with self hatred can benefit by feeling anger. It allows the focus to shift and healing to happen. Misplaced self blame prolongs the process of healing as the person is not able to discard the self blame and guilt and withdraws into his/her shell. Here’s a link that describes people who have a tendency towards self blame.

You may ask – WHY‘ did he/she misbehave with me? (The ‘reason’ in question)

And you decide not to rest till you find an answer.

Sometimes there are no answers, there are just situations!

Since you cannot figure out WHY something happened ..

or since that person who went away is not there to answer your questions…

or he/she is too self obsessed to think about you, you take the blame on yourself.

You tell yourself – “I’m at fault, that’s why she/he behaved this way with me. I’m the one to blame. ”

Will it not be better if you accept that someone behaved badly with you despite your reasonable behavior and the reasons for their behavior could be varied. Blaming the other person here would help to take away the focus from your own self hatred. However, please remember, blaming is NOT a solution. It is only a road to recovery. Once you blame and are conscious of your anger, you need to Let it Go, instead of holding on to it. Anger is to be felt and released.

However there is one more question that you are likely to Ask-

Why ‘ME’?  Why did he/she behave this way with ME? (The ‘Self’ in Question)

Again, you have chosen a wrong question.

Why me?

Because You happened to be in that place — at that time — with that person…!

It isn’t some conspiracy by universe to make bad things happen Only to you because you think that you are a bad person, a person with defects… a person who doesn’t deserve love, respect ~ ! — All the reasons that you give to yourself to feel guilty.

Instead of feeling guilty …  THINK — And TAP on (Apply EFT on)

It happened.

It was bad.

He/she shouldn’t have behaved that way.

I accept that it happened.

I don’t like that it happened.

But I choose to not take it upon myself.

I choose to place the blame where it should be.

I choose to let go.

I choose to stop asking questions like “why me?”

And Move on!

Because this moment is precious

And I don’t want to waste it by feeling guilty!

An Addition – This  article specifically addresses  people who have been hurt repeatedly by someone who is not willing to change his/her behavior.

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About Puja

I am a Counseling Psychologist, Certified EFT Practitioner & Accredited Trainer with AAMET. In my 12+ years of experience, I have effectively used EFT and Counseling to help clients heal their emotional and physical problems.
This entry was posted in Self Image and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The ‘Why’ factor in Guilt

  1. Dr. Tanoy Bose says:

    Well, either I did not understand what exactly wanted to state or I have a different opinion about the approach towards the sense of guilt feeling. When somebody’s misbehaviour or deed has caused a sense of guilt feeling in me, I would like to suggest a different approach apart from those which you have posted. They are ofcourse not in contradiction to those of yours but a simple view point of mine as I think you are several times more experienced than me as you are a professional.
    According to me,
    Every human should have a sense of analysis, composure and approach to a situation. It is often not possible to be like so at the moment of an incident but there is every scope of doing so even after the incident is long over. But it is always good to have composure and the analytical skill during the incident so that one does not react and lose the self respect in doing so.
    In this regard I would also like to put forward a few opinion of mine. We have long heard “To err is human” and even if we do not pay much heed to these proverbs, I think every action of a person (be it good or bad or diplomatic or vanity) is guided by many factors. The situation, the state of mind, the state of physical well being, the immediate level of sense of satisfaction from life or other liabilities, preceding events in the life of the person, immediate compulsions and many such.
    When someone’s attitude towards oneself is unacceptable or humiliating, an immediate thought process should be initiated in one’s mind in an attempt to find an appropriate or probable answer to the question “Why is he/she behaving like this?” unless the pattern of behaviour is repeatative and incorrigible. Answers should sought to following questions too.
    1. Did I do any thing wrong knowingly or unknowingly? Was my behaviour inappropraite? (especially in families)
    2. Is the person is already irritated due to some other reasons not concerned with me or the current situation? (common among public servants e.g govt officials, conductors)
    3. Does he appear to behave in similar pattern with everybody? (e.g touts, daily wage labourers)
    4. Is he in any physical, mental or psychological pain already?
    5. Is there any miscommunication and misunderstanding?

    And many such.
    If you give a cautious concern to this questions, you will realise that all of them are answerable and reversible events. I wanted to insist that one should behave a little bit to matured in handling the situation. I think, in any form of derogatory interaction, the one who is abusing or misbehaving or misconducting is psychologically at a more unstable state of mind than one who is at the receiving end unless the other looses his/her composure.

    I would definitely like to consider all your options in cases where the behaviour or attitude or misconduct from a concerned individual is repeatative and incorrigible.

    I believe, love can win a war without shedding a drop of blood though I agree that I have a limit of tolerance as I am no Jesus.

    Regards

    Tanoy.

    • Puja says:

      HI Tanoy,
      Thanks for your comments. Very well said.
      However, your focus is on a person who has misbehaved in some manner and how the hurt and the one who has hurt can rationally tackle it. And therefore you are talking about guilt that can be proactive and how to tackle it. Your points are excellent with regards to that.

      The article I have written is about Guilt that people with low self image or self – hatred feel. They are wracked by guilt for behavior that is not theirs to own. And this article is for them to come out of their guilt.
      It is for people with severe self hatred.
      To quote from the article ” Guilt that is redundant – The guilt as a result of self hatred. This is the kind of guilt I’m addressing in this article. This guilt arises due to a tendency towards self blame for everything. Any misbehavior, failure in relationship, infidelity by the partner, injustice by another person makes one feel responsible and self blame ensues for any unfairness shown by others. Anger towards self is also a part of this. There is a feeling of victimhood. “I deserve this treatment as I’m unworthy”.

      The questions you have posed are very good. But they are at the other side of the spectrum. They address the questions that a person would like to address with regards to one or two incidents but not for a behavior that is repetitive and incorrigible for example in abuse cases.
      TO err is human and if a person who has hurt someone and the one who is hurt himself – If they BOTH are willing to sit down and discuss rationally, then things can be understood much better.

      And like you said ” the one who is misbehaving ” may be doing so for many reasons and it could also be due to the behavior of the person he is misbehaving with, something may have triggered a response, – For example – if a spouse if cheating then a person can become very aggressive in his/her response and that is a trigger. So psychologically speaking there are innumerable reasons for any behavior and unless a person whi is hurt and a person who has hurt , they both sit down and talk logically (very tough at times), they cannot resolve any kind of guilt.

      I have added this at the end of the article to make it clearer.
      An Addition – This article specifically addresses people who are in abusive relationships or have been hurt repeatedly by someone who is not willing to change his/her behavior.

      • Dr. Tanoy Bose says:

        Thank you for the clarification Puja. Indeed I started a different string before understanding the target audience of the article. I don’t have much experience with psychological state of such individuals, hence would prefer to simply go through your article and try to analyse.
        Regards
        Tanoy

    • Puja says:

      Tanoy: I will soon write another article on guilt that can be proactive. That would be more in line with what you are addressing.

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