What is the fault and how can we manage this feeling?
In my years as a therapist I have witnessed how many people live prey to a great ghost that torments them: their name is guilt . They are people who fail to fully enjoy their lives because they often deprive themselves of experiences, make decisions, take on challenges, close circles in their lives because they feel guilty.
That's why today I decided to write a few basic ideas that allow you to reflect on this great ghost that torments our lives and sometimes we do not realize it.
What we understand by fault
Let's begin by exploring the term a bit: the guilt. We usually define this concept as an unpleasant feeling born of the sanction , the accusatory signaling or the sentence produced by "something we did or did not do and it was assumed that we should do or not do".
This signaling generates feelings such as sadness, remorse, lament, anguish, impotence and frustration.
The small imaginary judgments
These cases can be found very easily in judicial matters, in which a person is sentenced or sentenced to a certain penalty for committing a crime. These processes are usually very emotionally exhausting for those involved , noticing easily a deterioration not only psychological-social, but also physical.
Precisely, on this point I am interested in reflecting. In consultation, I usually mention to my patients that, consciously or unconsciously, they tend to live in a constant "trial" in which, unfortunately, they are the ones who force themselves to sit in the "chair of the accused".
In this way, it's about exemplifying how exhausting their lives are , by the very decision to "sanction or reproach" for "what is done or not done in life." That is, in many cases there is no such "other pointing", but it is the same inflexibility of the subject that is accused.
When you put the blame yourself
Starting from this premise, it is clear thatThe fault is the exclusive decision of the subject to be putting the sentence to himself .
The upbringing and the education received in general can influence the acquisition of self-punitive behaviors, but once it is passed into adult life, we are responsible for changing our repertoire in such a way that we acquire more and more assertive emotional tools.
The second language example
To clarify this point I usually give the following example to my patients.
When you are a child, many times, parents can not give their children the option of acquiring a second language; while they are children and adolescents, they are subject to the possibilities that their parents allow. And if they are asked why they do not speak another language, they will very naturally say that their parents can not give them that option.
But when they are adults, they can no longer justify talking about what their parents could not provide, because theoretically it is their absolute responsibility to provide themselves with all the professional tools necessary to compete in the labor market, and the more they need a tool To stand out in the professional field, greater should be your effort to achieve it.
In the same way, if our parents could not provide us with the necessary tools to have mental health and therefore, quality of life, as adults it is our responsibility to acquire new resources. Therefore, using guilt assertively is an absolute decision of the person. The ideal is to know how to manage these beliefs and feelings to make our quality of life better in those areas where you can improve.
Why should guilt be exterminated when it is not assertive?
Guilt creates heartbreaking feelings , because it imprisons the person in an emotional situation.
Example: imagine that a natural disaster occurs near where we live and many loved ones were affected; we feel his pain and worry, therefore, if it is within our possibilities, we run to help them, trying to give the best of ourselves to such a catastrophe; It would be almost unthinkable for a person to put handcuffs on his hands and tie himself to the bed, in such a way that he feels the pain of his friends but can not do anything.
This is precisely the scenario assumed by the people who blame themselves; they stay paralyzed, they complain, they feel pain, but they do not take actions that allow them to improve the panorama . They remain "bound", "imprisoned" in their feeling without the capacity to collaborate.
Forms of compensation
It is necessary to clarify that sometimes people clearly assume responsibility for their actions , in the both seek ways to compensate for their error.For example, if one of the two partners was unfaithful, it is possible that the error is recognized and that the person struggles to regain trust, in such a way that it does not remain in lamentations or sanctions, but in the way of returning to recover the emotional stability of the couple in case they want to continue together. That is, guilt allows us to sensitize ourselves to human feelings and, therefore, to delimit certain actions for healthy coexistence. This would be the assertive use of guilt.
However, in many occasions people feel guilty for events that are not their responsibility . Returning to one of the examples, it would be as if the person felt responsible for the natural disaster, which devastated the neighborhood and therefore, begin to apologize to others and fail to continue with their lives because of the sadness caused by the experience.
The guilt that binds us
In the same way, people spend a great deal of their lives immersed in this "irrational belief" that they are responsible for events that belong to their own course of life. And the difficult part of the case is that a circle is generated, by "paralyzing" and not looking for alternate ways to improve the situation, one falls into the claim or the constant lamentations .
That is why, when people are helped to channel their guilt, they are questioned if they really want to get rid of those unpleasant feelings. The most important question that I should ask you as a therapist is: "Do you want to take responsibility for your life?" Why that often implies taking actions that we unconsciously avoid taking . In some cases, in fact, they realize that it is more comfortable to be lamenting about the past than to start building the present.
Another important aspect to mention in the subject of the fault is its temporality . Guilt, as already mentioned, helps us to sensitize ourselves to those actions that we do or do not do and that allow us to amend or improve as people; but it must be registered within a time. It has a beginning and an end, as well as an objective that, as mentioned, focuses on overcoming.
However, its use is distorted when it starts but does not end, that is, when we feel bad for a fault that we committed but we are continually recriminating ourselves over and over again.
In legal matters it is common to hear that a person pays a sentence only once for a crime. In this case it is the same; the person really repents of the harm done, apologizes, demonstrates his repentance and continues to live. But nevertheless, many people find it impossible to put that final point and relive their negative feelings over and over again for the damage they caused to the other person.
At this point I usually ask my patients the following question: What is the purpose of living with that feeling of guilt? Could it be that it works for us to victimize, manipulate, or avoid taking responsibility? It is extremely important that people find the real reason why they blame themselves. It is the beginning to achieve changes.