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Resolving Guilt and Mitigating Its Impact on Your Family


Resolving Guilt and Mitigating Its Impact on Your Family


To be haunted by guilt is a common experience for many family members. Parents feel guilty for not spending enough time with their children. At the same time, they may also feel guilty for neglecting their own aging parents in their care facility. Working moms may feel guilty about balancing time between family and career. Wives can feel guilty knowing they are too focused on their children that they are abandoning the needs of their husbands. Some husbands have terrible feelings of guilt and shame for committing infidelity. Adult children might feel guilty for leaving the family nest behind to start their own family or by overzealously pursuing a career. Young members can also feel guilty for their juvenile misbehavior.

Of course, most people have had guilty feelings for doing something wrong in the past or making a poor decision that resulted in bad consequences. There is a feeling of shame if what you did is public knowledge. The more people in the know, the greater your worry is. It feels terrible as your mistake keeps coming back in your mind again and again. You may be filled with regret. If only you had made a better decision. Unfortunately, the past is the past, regardless of the consequences, it can leave you with guilt.


True Guilt versus False Guilt

Guilt is the body’s red flag of telling that you have committed something wrong. It is an emotional warning sign acquired by most people through natural the childhood development process. It prompts you to take a closer look at your behavior, how it affects yourself and others, and helps develop a better sense so you can avoid committing the same mistake again. Feeling guilty can also be described as feeling helpless or at a loss about what you could have done better for the people you feel you have wronged, such as your parents, children, or spouse.

The guilt response brings pain and distress that urges you to take some remedial action to rid yourself of the discomforting feelings. Whether it is about offering a sincere apology to ask for forgiveness or taking the right action to make up for the wrong action, the pain of guilt usually goes away.

Guilt is not all “bad.“ In understanding the anatomy of guilt, it is easy to appreciate the fact that true guilt allows you to see the wisdom of the emotion. You have learned from the experience and you can move on without feeling bad. Unfortunately, there is such thing as false guilt which you place on yourself for your regrets or failures to live up to what others expect from you. When accompanied by shame and ridicule, it can lead to self-punishment and self-critical thoughts and behavior that can transform into a guilty conscience pervading your life. Despite efforts to rectify a wrongdoing and repair the damage, the guilty feeling lingers with a sense of unworthiness.


Carrying the Burden of Guilt in Your Family        

While feeling guilty can help you make amends, so you can continuously enjoy a harmonious relationship, an excessive amount of guilt can also be counterproductive. Carrying heavy guilt can put a strain on your relationships and affect the lives of those involved, especially your loved ones.

Due to the highly unproductive nature of thought patterns created by a guilty conscience, criticisms of self and of others may become an automatic reaction. Rather than giving and receiving unconditional love in the family, members are at risk of causing physical or emotional harm to each other. The home becomes a nest of sarcasm, blame, threats, hatred, fault-finding, selfishness, and even abuse.

The vicious cycle of negative guilt may even give rise to behavioral and emotional health issues, such as anxiety, depression and rage. The many and varied physical symptoms associated with these types of issues may range from chronic headaches to panic attacks and digestive disorders. The strained relationship affects members to the point of solitude and divorce, some even resort to substance abuse, and unfortunately, even to self-destructive activities.


Here are a few examples of what guilt can do to destroy your family:      


  • Guilt can cause you to overwork or become submissive in order to please everyone.
  • Guilt can turn you into an over-conscientious individual who frets over every action in order to prevent negative consequences.
  • Guilt can result in your being over sensitive and obsessed about how your decisions may affect your words and actions.
  • Guilt can immobilize you because you fear that whatever you do or say is wrong.
  • Guilt can interfere in your decision making, in your effort to always make the right choice.
  • Guilt can impel you to wear the mask of self-denial in order to feel less guilty.
  • Guilt can block or close off your emotions, preventing you from enjoying the positive fruits of life.
  • Guilt can mislead you about your real feelings.


Living with Unresolved Guilt

Everyone makes mistakes occasionally because nobody is perfect, not even the most conscientious family members or friends. Despite the desire for perfection, there may be a point in your life when you feel guilty about a wrongdoing. The key is to own up to your mistake and accept that it is part of being human. After all, there is no point in hanging onto them. Unresolved guilt that becomes complicated attracts bad responses and life events. When allowed to persist, it can escalate into unwieldy proportions that may threaten your personal growth and relationship with your family.

It is crucial to resolve the negative pattern wrought by guilt. Guilt’s purpose is to call something to your attention, so you can correct your behavior to prevent you from doing it again in the future. If your guilt is not doing its purpose, but instead you are burdened by overwhelming symptoms, stand up to it by seeking counseling as the right intervention


Alleviating the Impact of Guilt in Your Family

The feeling of guilt can become so immense if you are focusing on something embarrassing or harmful you have done to your family or one of its members. It is understandable to regret the aftermath of a mistake or shortcoming, but it is not healthy to get stuck in a dark and miserable state of self-condemnation and guilt. Being consumed with guilt can keep you from enjoying life in the company of your family. You may likely need to take some kind of action to show you’re commited to making amends and to stop carrying the burden of grief around. The great news is that there is a way to do it.

If you are overly consumed with guilt and others cannot offer anything except criticism and disapproval, there is a helping hand being offered you can reach out to. The right fit counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks can help you sort through this. Working with a nonjudgmental counselor is a tremendous help, especially if your guilt is severe and intense. Without help, it is nearly impossible to do it alone. With a caring counselor independently contracted with CCS Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks, you are no longer alone. Call now to request an appointment for your first session.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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