Guilt as emotion not fact
Guilt is one of the most present emotions in people’s lives.
We learn it culturally, morally and psychologically in the context of social life, family and our own experiences.
Unfortunately, culturally, guilt has such a strong resonance and root that it is taught in family, parent-child relationships. Guilt feelings arise where there is a lot of emotional distance or from direct verbal interaction, by expressing guilt-inducing moods and words.
Mony Elkaim, psychotherapist and leading trainer in systemic family therapy, talked a lot about emotional resonance. This means not only that little ones perceive and pick up on what mothers or fathers feel inside them, but also the emotional nuances that come with the expression of words and behaviors, i.e., what we let others understand.
For this reason, many adults do not know how to live the feeling of responsibility for the decisions they make in their lives, in relation to themselves or to the actions they express, without keeping or bringing within themselves the feeling of guilt.
Guilt, in itself, has become something so present in our lives that it has come to be felt instinctively, without us even thinking that it has no place in our reactions or decisions.
I don’t want it to be understood that we need to make guilt disappear from our lives and experiences or that it is totally inappropriate to feel such a feeling. Guilt is also a natural state sometimes.
Unhealthy or unnatural is when this feeling persists or appears as something representative, every time a particular situation occurs, in life, at home or at work, as a particular pattern, and in this case, we need to consciously intervene on it.
Many people apologies when they feel guilty, but without resolving the uncomfortable emotion, in which case they deepen it in their consciousness and feelings. On a mental, rational level, they find justification for what they feel is right, but on an emotional, affective level they feel otherwise. In such situations, a state of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment gradually arises; you no longer feel heard, seen or understood. Over time, if these feelings are not analyzed, a vicious circle is created and a faulty coping mechanism develops whereby one can end up creating a protection against a possible lack of love and attention from others, using VINA. This is intense enough to produce a huge void in the soul. Loneliness and guilt can be a consequence of feeling emotionally abandoned.
When we are small, when our emotional needs are not met (we are not physically and emotionally secure when we cry, when we make mistakes or are not held), the state of abandonment and GUILT arises that we are not good enough to be seen, important, loved, understood; guilt that we are not enough for Mom or Dad through our existence.
So, early on, many children struggle to prove that they are good at school, that they get straight A’s, or that they can be top of their class, in the hope that they will be praised and validated as people. But such a way of life, practiced for a long time, gives an “addiction” to performance, to achieving standards and not goals, to continually striving for things and not for oneself/life.
Basically, it’s a transactional life, like the effect of a pill. When it runs out you need to take another, and on an emotional level you become a drained adult, distant with those close to you, low self-esteem, critical of yourself or others, anxious, depressed etc.
To heal or at least readjust these wounds requires work with a therapist, with yourself or in another relationship where you feel listened to, seen, validated. In this way, the painful experiences are consumed and the place hurts less and less. You become aware of the mechanism and can integrate a new way of dealing with yourself, of understanding your emotions, and gradually the adult becomes emotionally responsible without facing realities with guilt.
Photo source: https://theprivatetherapyclinic.co.uk/