Studies have shown that we experience five hours of guilt feelings a week and it could affect a person in more ways than we could imagine. Even though it causes havoc, it could sometimes benefit us by saving relationships. In the dictionary, guilt is defined as a feeling of worry or displeasure that a person experiences because they have done something wrong, which usually harms another. There are several types of guilt and it is interpreted in different ways. It can be healthy, unhealthy or even both. However, it takes so much practice to let go of that feeling.
Guilt for something you have done is one of the main types of guilt, which involves hurting others. Sometimes you sacrifice things or people just for the sake of gaining something you want so badly. Also, guilt for something you didn’t do but wanted to is another type of guilt that many people feel. For example, you might want to help this person but something is stopping you. Later, you end up regretting it and feeling guilty for being a coward and not daring to do it. Last but not least, the social differences in our lives are a key factor that highlights this sentiment. Privileged citizens may feel like they are always doing better than others.
Likewise, the same goes for students who grew up more privileged than their parents or family. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, once said, “They mean well (and their families do too), but students themselves feel guilty for having opportunities that their parents or siblings didn’t.” This is one of the five types of guilt that Freud believes in and that many people have endured.
That being said, betrayal is somehow tied to guilt. If the victim makes the abuser feel guilty in some way, this will increase the abuser’s chances of forgiveness. However, some people have a hard time forgiving because betrayal could harm a part of life. “The standard story is that Caesar was stabbed to death by his (supposedly) best friend, Brutus. This monumental betrayal is, in fact, from a human point of view, perhaps the worst that has ever happened. That day passed.” Julius Caesar is a tragic play by Shakespeare, the famous English poet and playwright. This play was first performed in 1599 and was based on true events.
Julius Caesar was a politician and scholar in ancient Rome. He was known for his great leadership and establishment of the imperial system. His death is considered one of the most significant deaths in history. He was stabbed in the back on March 15, 44 BC. AD by Brutus, his best friend. It was his 23rd stab wound that was fatal to him. Thus elucidating the impression that he has been betrayed by many of his closest friends in the play, which is at the heart of the plot. He said “Et Tu, Brute” before he died, which ultimately means that’s what he least expected. So, the conclusion is that betrayal comes from the people you trust the most.
However, guilt is truly considered good and wholesome when it changes people. Here are three reasons why:
1. It’s a motivation, not a punishment
Kathleen Vohs, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University, tested some students to find out the correlation between their guilt scores and the type of student they are. “Life could be more fun with less guilt, absolutely guilt is not a pleasant state, it really isn’t, but in the end it’s better for everyone,” Vohs said. . Guilt is what drove Amir, in the novel The kite runner, become a better person and learn from their past by fully accepting and acknowledging it.
Amir, the main character and narrator, is a sympathetic character who struggled to live up to his father’s expectations. In the process, he betrays his best friend, Hassan. He watches him being raped and decides to run away. Hassan was a discriminated Hazara, a Sunni Muslim in Afghanistan, but a strong and admirable character. In this novel, guilt was a key theme that played a huge role in the development of Amir’s character.
2. It makes you feel remorseful
“They feel a sense of remorse about it. They wish they could undo it. They feel like they’re ruminating on it,” said Bybee, professor of psychology at Suffolk University. People eventually find a way of redemption to correct their wrongdoings. The road to redemption is difficult but not impossible. You need to engage by focusing on your intentions rather than the results.
3. It makes you a better citizen
“A man who has no conscience, no kindness, does not suffer”, quoted in The kite runner, a heartbreaking novel published in 2003 by Khaled Hosseini. As we all know, we make mistakes to learn from them. It actively illustrates that guilt keeps people in check and, in fact, they become less inclined to these actions. It helps you think about your decision making and avoid bad decisions in the future.
Overall, there are several ways and techniques to stop feeling guilty. You could decide how much you are willing to make. Think of ways you could be responsible for specific care and try to make up for what you’ve lost. Another effective and stimulating way is to put yourself in the reverse role. Guilt has been proven to keep us from thinking straight and this is the main reason why you should seek advice instead of being hard on yourself. Finally, appreciate yourself and focus on what you’re doing well rather than what you’re doing wrong. Psychologist and life coach, Melanie Greenburg mentioned some ideas in her article such as:
“Write a ‘self-gratitude’ journal at the end of each day, writing down at least three things you did that day that achieved your goals or helped someone you care about. At the end of the week, read what you wrote. Guilt and perfectionism have a negative bias. They make you pay attention to what you are doing wrong. By writing down what you actually did, you can overcome this bias and force yourself to focus on your accomplishments.