All of us have felt guilty one time or the other in life? It might be a huge guilt that burdens our heart down or a minor one that just goes away with time. Last 2 days we learnt about true and false guilt – but how do we know the difference between the two. How do I realize that the guilt I am feeling now is really a true guilt or a false one? I could identify about 4 reasons of feeling guilty – that might help one figure out the difference.
Breaking the promise
Breach of a promise makes us feel guilty. If you promised a friend that you would go out for a movie with her and have to cancel at last minute, it leaves a little guilt inside you. I promised myself to not eat too much fatty food yet I feel guilty when I indulge in a second chocolate pastry.
Not meeting the expectations
We live in a society and people have certain expectations from us. Our family comes first in this case. I know mothers who feel guilty about not spending enough time with the kids. Sometimes siblings drift apart from each other and that becomes a reason of guilt.
Telling lies is a complex process. We all have told lies to our parents about eating an extra chocolate or bunking classes. Now as adults the lies get more and more serious and could be a strong cause of the guilt.
Hurting another person
Hurting somebody’s feelings intentionally or unintentionally does make most of us feel guilty. Nobody likes to hurt the other person unless one has a strong feeling of revenge. This is one guilt that most common.
Doing something immoral
This area is quite grey because moral values can differ for people. Highly immoral activities are also illegal like murder, rape, theft etc. – these activities are black and white, but there are also moral values that have been changing with times and also differ depending on cultures and families. For example, 20 years back a woman engaging in pre-marital sex was considered highly immoral by Indian middle class community; today it is considered ok by majority of Indian middle class. A woman engaging in pre-marital sex would have felt high amounts of guilt 20 years back than the woman of this date. So in such cases, the feeling of guilt out of morality differs largely on a person’s up-bringing and society.
So, if you feel guilty about something – try and find out which category does your reason of guilt falls into and then probably you can better judge whether it is a true or false guilt. Living with guilt is like living in a feeling of constant failures. More guilty you feel, more negative you will get. It does not help. Do what it takes to come out of that guilt – but just remember not to hurt anyone in the process of getting rid of your own guilt.