I wanted to create a new series of posts discussing different difficult emotions. I think it is important to understand our emotions, especially difficult ones, so that we can better cope with them. The first emotion I will discuss is guilt.
What is guilt:
Guilt can be described as a conflict between the id, ego, and superego. These are concepts from the father of psychology Sigmund Freud. Freud describes the superego as the highly moral part of our subconscious. It is the part of us that fights against injustice and points out wrongs in others. The alter to this persona is the id or the primitive, unrestrained parts of our subconscious. Freud believed that the superego and the id are mediated by the ego, which represents a struggle for mental balance between these polar opposites. The conflict between the superego and the ego could also be associated with our guilt, or the conflicted feelings about one’s actions. Whether real or imagined, guilt is actually a feeling of responsibility or remorse for an offense or crime(study.com).
Why do we feel guilt:
We feel guilt when our actions don’t align with our values and morals. We feel guilt when we believe we are letting someone down, or hurting their feelings. We feel guilt when we react harshly to others, saying things we didn’t mean to say, or doing things that can be hurtful. We feel guilt when we hurt others. We feel guilt when we act out of character. Guilt can also be prevalent in empaths who chose others happiness over their own. They feel guilt, because they couldn’t make the other person happy. Guilt is an emotion, like all, that must be felt. You can’t eliminate guilt. We are sentient beings, but learning to limit the affect it has on you can be done.
What can we learn:
There is nothing wrong with you for feeling guilt. You are not a bad person for feeling guilt. If anything, it shows you are a caring individual. Guilt can be helpful, it shows us what we value and care about. It tells us when we are out of character. It allows us to learn from our mistakes. It helps strengthen relationships, and teaches us to be a better person. It shows we respect others, and shows we value others emotions and opinions.
Although, it can be helpful. There are times it can be unhelpful. When you attach negative thoughts to the emotion, and beat yourself down for feeling guilt. Sometimes we will hurt others for our own well-being, happiness, and stability. If someone gets hurt, it is there responsibility to cope with those feelings, not you. Everyone is responsible for their own feelings. There are boundaries that you as an individual should set. You will not like someone as much as they like you. There will be times when you don’t want to spend time with someone, even if they want to. Putting your priorities over others doesn’t make you a bad person. It cultivates mental stability and well-being. Now you shouldn’t intentionally hurt others, step all over people, and bring them down, but you shouldn’t do that to yourself for others as well.
Your mental health and happiness comes first. To help others, you got to help yourself first. You have to say no sometimes. You won’t always live up to the standards of others. You won’t want what others want. You will let others down, and others will let you down. That is what we call life. Learn to use guilt as a guide, or a lesson, rather than using it beat you down. There is no avoiding guilt, or any difficult emotion, so using it as a learning tool can put you in a better place. Emotions are guides, use them to your benefit when they arise. Remember, what can you learn from this emotion and go from there.