How do you deal with guilt?

India
February 8, 2011 11:52pm CST
I often say to my friends that pure happiness can be a measure of how righteous you are. According to psychoanalysts there are three distinct part of our mind, the id, the ego and the super ego. The id is responsible for all the basic instincts. The super ego holds the ethics and values most of which is induced by our society. However, you can not always do what your id asks you to do. Even if you do it forcefully, your superego will become active and will keep on telling you that what you did was wrong. You may have another name for super ego, for example, conscience. However the functions are still the same. To irritate and disturb you with the feeling of guilt. So ego, the third part, devises new ways to co ordinate between the ethical super ego and the wild id. Sometimes ego innovates new excuses to deal with the guilt. Sometimes ego tells you to face the conscience and reverse the things that you've done. What do you do when you feel guilty? Do you run away from it? Do you face it and try to reverse the damage that you've done? How do you deal with guilt?
6 people like this
20 responses
@shibham (17025)
• India
9 Feb 11
Perhaps all are related with Libido, You better know, i think. But as your question is concern... a guilt always harasses me if i am not reversing for its compensation and always try to face the second part after my fault. And you know its more commendable and risky. have a nice day.
1 person likes this
• India
10 Feb 11
You look sexy in that beard. However I shouldn't say something like that as I run the risk of getting misinterpreted. About libido, that's exactly what the psychoanalysts usually say. Over time human mind has become more complex. We have developed, inside our mind, new ways to process and interpret information. The hard definition of right and wrong is responsible for feeling guilt. No two person feels same amount of guilt after doing the same thing. It depends on the context. A soldier may kill 10 enemy soldiers in the front and may feel no qualms about it. Whereas while driving if you hurt an animal accidentally you may feel guilty about it.
@kalav56 (11502)
• India
10 Feb 11
A soldier kills 2o people because it is his bounden duty to do it.He has undertaken the job and he has to perform. THis is professional justice.When he does it for pattriotic purposes his stance gets justified in a more forceful manner. On the other hand 'accidentally' killing any person or animal would definitely make a person feel guilty.
@shibham (17025)
• India
12 Feb 11
Hi kala and biswa... I agree with both of you. @mel, sexy, me..... noway. Good throw.
• United States
10 Feb 11
I have felt guilty about many things, but you can't wallow in the guilt, you have to learn to get past it all. If you live with guilt or you live in the past, you are never going to get past your problems. I did that for years, and it was nothing but pain and suffering. You want to live in pain and suffering. It all just holds you back. I am practicing Buddhist mediation and I am learning to see the bad experiences and I am learning to address the issues as they come along and I am learning to talk myself out of those experiences. You will live in your own personal mental Hell if you cannot learn to deal with what you have.
• India
12 Feb 11
Meditation makes you powerful and perfect. When I first started meditation, I had no feeling of guilt. May be meditation prevented me from doing anything that could cause guilt. May be it shaped my psychology in such a way that any conflict could be resolved as soon as they arose. I really don't know the reason. However, meditation gives you calmness and indifference by which it becomes lot easier to take meaningful decisions. I am delighted to learn that you take interest in Buddhism. May be when we have time we will have some more conversation on this.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Feb 11
I wouldn't say that meditation makes you perfect, but it makes you feel better.
@kalav56 (11502)
• India
9 Feb 11
Biswa! I just lose sleep , lose my peace of mind when I feel guilty.My super ego supersedes my ego and at times it even becomes overactive. My husband and son blame it on my school and my son has also told me that I am inherently smart but education has ruined me. THis is why I had allowed some people to ride roughshod over me. Now I am more careful. But, I try and be very cautious with words I use so that I do not get into this 'guilty' situation. Once something has happened, and if my ego has dictated to me to get some excuses I still do it but I am well aware of it. I do not delude myself that there was no wrongdoing on my part.But something had to happen and it happened and I pray god forgives me. I try and rectify it by talking to the person concerned if I have hurt some person.But here also , I have had bitter lessons in life thta people conveniently exploit my sense of guilt and so I am smarter than I was before. I always face it and say boldly that what I did was wrong.My inner conscience knows it and I have no qualms accepting it.
1 person likes this
• India
11 Feb 11
I have been reading the autobiography of M.K.Gandhi. I will relate one incident from there. Once in his childhood he stole something to pay out the debt of his elder brother. Though he didn't steal it from anyone outside his family, he was tormented with an unbearable feeling of guilt. He couldn't sleep but didn't have the courage to confess it to his father. Then one day he wrote a letter and handed it to his father. In this letter he confessed everything sincerely and promised not to repeat this again. His father, who's ill and was lying on his sickbed, read the letter silently. A drop or two fell from his eyes. Then both the son and the father started crying. Father forgave the son because the truthful confession along with a pledge of not doing the same mistake again already made him forgive his son. Isn't it an amazing story?
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@kalav56 (11502)
• India
12 Feb 11
Thanks a lot for the BR Biswa.
@Lhenni (1246)
• Philippines
10 Feb 11
Why someone may feel guilt anyway?... maybe that's a natural thing to feel when committing something not favorable to the one himself nor to the people whom we deals with. But sometimes, guild feeling can be washed away easily not only to just ignore it but rather to focuss on the positive aspect why it should happen anyway. I always believe that we can't please everybody... I've been guilty sometimes but just a light guilty feeling. And in case i'll feel guilty that will cause in very damaging situation,... i'll be sorry for sure. I will accept the consequences with humility... then, I won't forget the learnings... I want to be a better person then on.
• India
12 Feb 11
You are absolutely right. Sometimes guilt arises quite unnecessarily. You know that you did what you did because it had to be done. Yet, you feel guilty thinking if you've hurt someone badly. If you know what your responsibilities and duties are then nothing should make you feel guilty. All you need to do is to identify your objective in life. This is the toughest thing to do. But once you've done that all you need to do is to follow that objective by all means. Whenever you need to make a decision you first verify whether it is in conformity with your objective. If it isn't you just throw it away and choose the other one. Having a definite aim in life makes your life free of guilt. Even if guilt arises, you always have the capacity to quickly resolve it.
@irene66 (1671)
• Philippines
10 Feb 11
I use my super ego whenever I feel guilty. I pray first to ask for forgiveness from that guilt. Then I go to the person whom I am guilty of and say sorry for I made a mistake. I have to prepare myself though on what the person may say in front of me. That is the price. Sometimes it is difficult to do this as your ego is put down but you feel relieved after doing it though.
1 person likes this
• India
12 Feb 11
That's the straight forward method for dealing with guilt. With this method you are capable of resolving the problem almost instantaneously. When you identify the thing that caused the guilt, your work is half done. Your next job becomes to stop justifying it and to confess it to yourself. Then you ask forgiveness from the Lord. At last, like you said, you prepare yourself to do whatever is necessary to finally overcome guilt. Yes, sometimes ego comes in between you and your objective. However if you are just you'll always end the conflict as early as you can.
• Canada
9 Feb 11
Guilt is absurd; Why should I feel guilty in first place? Why should I care about the trouble I have caused? If I feed myself reasons to be guilty, guilt will take control over me. Therefore I must do what I have to do and never feel guilty about it.
1 person likes this
• India
12 Feb 11
That sounds like a pure soul. However sometimes you feel guilty even after doing the right thing. If justice is harsh it will surely hurt someone. Now if you are given this responsibility to do justice to the person you are not related to there is almost always a feeling of guilt afterwards. If it's personal you may not feel that much guilty about it. Since you don't know that person personally yet you were obliged to be harsh then sometimes you may feel guilty about it. Guilt usually arises from the friction between your social values and your instincts. Ego often justifies our instincts to cop up with the pressure from social values and the conflict mainly takes place within.
@sid556 (31005)
• United States
9 Feb 11
Feeling guilty makes my tummy hurt. The only way I've found to deal with it is to face it, realize that I've done wrong and then try not to repeat whatever I did to make me feel that way...make amends to anyone I've wronged. Just deal with it...what else is there to do?
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• India
12 Feb 11
Yes, of course. It's your affair and if you can't handle it it's you who's going to face the consequences. Sometimes of course people do mediate and actively help in resolving the conflict. But if we do this ourselves it always makes us wiser and smarter. The only way to be mentally strong is to go through psychological stress, because only then people use their imagination to innovate novel ways to deal with the situation. However, realizing where you've done wrong is a difficult task. It's primary step and many people fail to understand it in time.
• Philippines
9 Feb 11
I have to agree with shibham. Guilt harasses us and they can be good manipulators, too. Makes me think of people who kill for a living or whatever their reasons may be. How do they handle their guilt? In my case, depends on the level of guilt. There are times where my ego wins and there are times where conscience outwits my ego. But the finality of this little war between my ego and conscience, will always have to do something of how I can sleep at night. Or how I can get a peace of the situation I am in where my ego and conscience is involved. So whatever decision that can give me peace, that could make me free from the situation, that's where I have to be. I hope I am making sense here, Biswa. LOL. Great discussion.
1 person likes this
@sender621 (14956)
• United States
9 Feb 11
Everyone has to handle guilt in their own ways. some people can face it head on and over come the challenges that guilt can bring along with it. Other people will run fom their guilt and never face their true feelings. guilt can bury you if you let it. I may feel sad or hurt by guilt, but i like to do my best to put it nehind me. there to too much in life to enjoy to let guilt bar the way.
• India
11 Feb 11
There are three psychological approach that we usually take to deal with guilt. If you want to resolve guilt immediately then you need to apologize to the concerned person or try to reverse the mistake which is causing you the guilty feeling. This is by far the most straight forward approach and you get rid of guilt almost immediately. Sometimes you know that you have done complete justice yet you feel guilty because you think the situation could have been handled in a better way. I wonder if there is any judge who did not feel this at least once in their lives. Sometimes you have to suppress guilt intentionally just because you had to deliver justice at any cost. In such a case you continuously reason with your conscience, convince yourself that it couldn't be avoided. This happens quite frequently and the method takes more time than the first one. The third method is quite painful. You feel the guilt and you want to reverse the action causing this guilt but you just can't do anything about it because it's gone out of your hand. You can't control the cause anymore and is already facing the consequences. In such cases one has to sincerely confess his mistake at least to his own conscience and make a vow not to repeat the same mistake again in his life. In such cases every time you remember your mistake it feels like you've been punished. You don't want to remember the incident because it's too painful. But other things reminds you of the incident. However, the memory is repressed successfully and the subconscious mind swallows it. It may take days, months or even years to forget such a thing. If it is too painful to bear, it may even come back in your dreams. The guilt, however, reforms your personality and subsides.
• Philippines
9 Feb 11
Hello biswa, Very nice topic! It makes me to reflect for a moment. hehe. As much as possible i hold on to my positive thinking attitudes towards dealing the hard times in life. Being optimistic at all time could help me always in tackling my conscience. A conscientious man has a great thing in dealing of guilt. That is why in my case i always see to it that all my actions will not cause me regrets and my ego shouldnt be high above my height!hehe. I strongly believe that guilts only comes in when one person committed a super mistakes like a crime or any violation that contradict in the moral values he/she had in life and realizes what he/she did.
1 person likes this
• India
10 Feb 11
I completely agree to that. Guilt arises when you do something that's wrong according to your own moral values. However, these moral values are imparted by one's own society. Guilt is a mental disturbance that can make you stay awake on bed for hours. It is necessary that we resolve it as soon as we identify it. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we become perfectionists and develop great expectations from ourselves. Perfectionists can't allow themselves to make mistakes and whenever they make mistakes they want to punish themselves harshly for it. A person with a high and rigid moral value is often an easy victim of guilt.
@surekharathi (14134)
• India
9 Feb 11
I am a positive thinking women so I never run away from any difficulty because I know facing the problems god gives some benefits also. I know hot to tackle this situation so I never lost my balance. I want to say everybody that positive thinking is the key of success. So when I guilt due to some reason then in that situation I find out the reason and solve them with the person from which I feel guilt.
• India
10 Feb 11
You are absolutely right there. Positive thinking is the essence of wellbeing. However, spirituality can induce positive thinking faster than anything else. With spirituality you'll be almost free from guilt. Believe me, I have been there. As long as you feel guilt your mind can't function properly. It completely blocks your view and the same feelings pops out every now and then. No matter how you try to drive it away it returns, just like a fly hovering over your face. It gives you extreme discomfort. However if you are willing to resolve it in a straight forward way, there is nothing to worry about.
@_sketch_ (5709)
• United States
9 Feb 11
I have been teaching myself to let go of ego. I have no need for guilt. I do my best and that is all I can do. Sometimes "bad" things happen; sometimes mistakes are made; but that is just life. All we have is the now. We can't change the past and we can't plan the future. If I were to do something that I felt bad about, I wouldn't waste my time punishing myself, but turn it around into something good. I believe that all things happen for a reason and since I trust in my good karma, I know that if something seemingly bad or negative happens to me then something really great is about to happen. Always balance. So I know I kind of go off into tangents, but my point is this: It's not a bad thing to let yourself be free of guilt even when you know you've done something quite regrettable. A good person will want to correct their mistakes and make up for it with more reason than just to make themselves feel better. p e a c e o f m i n d
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• India
9 Feb 11
If you make mistakes there is no point in punishing yourself for the rest of your life just because of that. The realization is more important than repentance. There is a long held concept that without guilt there is no possibility of recovery or improvement. I believe that it's the realization that is wrongly interpreted as guilt. Sometimes people feel guilt so strongly that they instinctively attempt to repress it with something stronger. This quite natural as the first reaction to guilt. However if that feeling doesn't lead to self realization then there is nothing much we can do about it.
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@EdnaReyes (2628)
• Philippines
9 Feb 11
Guilt is something hard to fight. When it attacks you, you can lost your power to your senses. It is frightening and yet must always be present in every dealings of men. If guilt is lost, then goodness had failed. When face with such problem, with utmost will and power I try to undo what's been wrongly done. I can sleep with guilty feelings. I can live my life with it so I must get rid of it once and for all even if it will cause my downfall!
1 person likes this
• India
9 Feb 11
I completely agree with you. Guilt is something you have to resolve immediately. Sometimes we just can't reverse it because our ego, instead of assisting us, start working against us. "Why should I apologize?", "What is he/she is thinking about me?", "How will I face him/her?" all these questions start haunting our mind and it becomes quite impossible to sleep with such an overwhelmed state of mind. Guilt is often created when your ethic clashes with your instincts. The feeling of guilt doesn't always mean that you've done something wrong. Someone may have a superstition and if he accidentally does anything that fixed belief he'll feel guilt. It is a typical psychological behavior and may or may not be caused by wrongdoings.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Feb 11
What do you do when you feel guilty? Do you run away from it? Do you face it and try to reverse the damage that you've done? How do you deal with guilt? I do not function well with guilt as it is easily readable on my face. I get this ill feeling in my stomach and my brain cannot function. So I deal with the issue head on and apologize immensely if I am at fault. I will dedicate ample time to rectifying and forever never forget so as not to do something again.
• India
9 Feb 11
Sometimes guilt arises from the friction between what you want to do and what you are taught to do. Sometimes when you are mad at someone you may yell. However since you have been taught that yelling is not a good behavior later you feel bad about it. You feel guilty and you wish this could never happen. But you were out of control with anger and you did not know exactly what you are doing when you were doing it. What is responsible for the guilty feelings is our own education, culture and social values. It's rather your own point of view that is being instrumental in producing guilt. In some cultures there are behaviors that people in your community may consider violent and rude. Now if you accidentally demonstrate any such behavior, you may feel guilty afterwards. Whereas people from that culture may do it every day, naturally.
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@celticeagle (119325)
• Boise, Idaho
9 Feb 11
I usually hee and haw and stress while thinking deeply over it. Why I'm feeling guilty. Should I? Then I usually say something to the person if it is that greivous. If it is worked through and understood then I am able to cope better with and sometimes the feeling of guilt leaves me.
• India
10 Feb 11
Let's try to find the origin of guilt here. You feel guilty because you think you have done something wrong. How did you know it was wrong in the first place? Because you have been taught so. Who taught you so? Of course, your society did. There are aborigines in some African countries who think it's beneficial to use a human skull as pillow. Do you think it's obscene? Well, you may think so because it's taught by your culture. But they feel no qualms about doing it. So there is no question of guilt. So in practice there can be two major way in dealing with the guilt. First, you can try to reverse your mistakes and second, you will have to unlearn all the things that are telling you it's wrong. The second method is difficult and more thorough. However it's not safe because it slowly wipes out the thing called conscience.
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@celticeagle (119325)
• Boise, Idaho
10 Feb 11
Do what? I was answering your question about guilt. Not sure I get where you are coming from? Are you a counselor or?
@Sanitary (3969)
• Singapore
11 Feb 11
I would like to face up to my guilt but it's not easy. It's especially so when it comes to those close to me, such as family members and bf. I do feel guilty about some of the things i did to them, but i lack the courage to own up to it. In fact, i always blame them for whatever happens even though i know it's me. WHenever i think back of those times, i will cry to myself and promise it won't happen again. HOwever, i still failed to do it.
• India
12 Feb 11
I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes it's too hard to take the responsibilities. You know that it's you who's responsible for everything that's happening to you, yet you are not strong enough to accept that fact. Sometimes we find fault in others just to show that they are flawed like ourselves. Since we are imperfect and we know it more than anyone else, we always try to justify our faults by pointing out others' imperfections. This is a common practice among us and often triggered by our inherent defense mechanism that protects us from stress. However, this is only a quick fix and can, in no way, provide any permanent solution to the conflict. So it'd be best if we just start reversing things until we get back the mental peace that we had lost in the process.
1 person likes this
@pogi253 (1587)
• Philippines
11 Feb 11
If you're feeling guilty regarding something, you're not by yourself; everybody suffers from guilt from time to time. The hardest part about guilt knows what to do about it. Dealing with it in the correct way may help you feel better. Keep your guilt to yourself if confessing will only harm other people. Though you may feel better at first, you will then start to feel guilty about the harm you did by confessing. As a substitute, make your mind up not to repeat the behaviour that made you feel guilty.
• India
12 Feb 11
It's the intention that is the most important. If you did something with the best of your intentions and yet it goes all wrong then you may feel bad about it but never guilty. However, if you had any ill intention even in the slightest amount, then you will feel the sharp bite of guilt inside your heart. It's severe and intolerable. It can even take away your sleep. Our main objective in life is to acquire mental peace and true happiness. Guilt goes against that objective, so we must find a way to resolve this problem as soon as it arises. The longer it stays the harder it becomes to reverse.
@stanley777 (7177)
• Philippines
10 Feb 11
For me, if I have done something wrong especially to other people or have done it but not intentionally I'll do all my best to rectify it if it can be corrected or apologize to the said person.My conscience will bother me if my apology is not accepted.Guilt also will haunt me until that said person had forgiven me.
• India
12 Feb 11
If you're sincerely sorry for what you've done and if you confess it to yourself and take the vow of never repeating yourself then you shouldn't worry much about the formal apology and all. When I feel guilt, I approach the issue and try to reverse my actions to the best of my capacities. But even before that I sincerely repent and ask for forgiveness to Lord. Then I promise myself that I won't do the same mistake again. Only when all these things were done, I start considering what to do with the mistakes that I have done. Even if my apology is not accepted I don't mind, because I have learned a great many things from my experience and that's what matters the most to me. Every time I resolve the feeling of guilt, I become a better man myself.
@vexxus (708)
• Philippines
10 Feb 11
well i usually deal with my guilt by procuring some positive things that i have done and compare it to the gravity of my misdeed... and promise to my self to do a ten times good things if ever i have done something wrong, so the voice inside my heart would stop, and you call it super ego... now i know about the voice that calls upon inside me that says "that was wrong"...id was the real me and ego was the mediator of the two right? thank you for this topic, i have learned from it, if you don't mine i would like to add you as a friend, so i can be notify when you started a discussion...
• India
12 Feb 11
Yes of course, you can add me and be my friend. You don't need my permission to send an add request. I will be more than happy to have a friend like you. You mentioned something about the voice that calls upon inside you. This is what we usually call conscience. The conscience is nothing but our early learnings. The education that we get in our childhood builds our moral foundation. They stay with us for longer than we can imagine. It's this moral lessons of childhood that forms the basic structure of the 'inner voice'. However life can be a learning process in itself. During adulthood some of our values change and some get replaced by others. Our conscience sometimes turns to flexibility. However there are people who are quite obsessed about ethics, conscience and stuffs. They are perfectionists and often cause a lot of sufferings for themselves.
@manunulat (605)
• Philippines
10 Feb 11
I do not run away from things. In so many instances in my life, I have been used to in facing the consequences of my actions. I do not have regrets on the past decisions that I made, whether the outcome has been good or not. I have heard an audiobook relating about making promises and I do agree on the thought "never make any promises, you cannot keep". It is because making these promises, be it implicit or uttered, would make people depend on it, hope for it and when you are unable to keep it; you become unreliable to that person and this would eventually cause some guilt inside you. So, as a lesson I learned, never make any promises... that's how I deal with guilt. Perhaps it would be helpful to face the situation and find the courage to apologize. That would not lift all the guilt because there are some circumstances wherein guilt can only be lifted by "doing". We cannot undo the past but at least, doing all we can to arrest future damages can be rewarding if you can get up there and face that guilt.
• India
12 Feb 11
Apologizing has its own advantage. It gives you humility. Why do we need humility? We need this first to identify our follies and then to cleanse ourselves in order to make us better. You are right in saying that the best way to resolve this is by undoing it. However sometimes we need to do things that are justified yet harsh. There we must reason with our own mind. Sometimes we may even have to unlearn our ethics or amend it. You were absolutely right about promises. If you make any promise that you can't keep it will certainly lead to guilty feelings. We shouldn't commit to anything unless we're sure on two grounds - it's ethical and it's achievable.