How to Deal with a Guilt Complex
Constant and excessive guilt can cause intense distress. Thankfully, there are several coping strategies that can help you ease your guilt and manage this negative feeling when it arises. Below are just a few ways you can learn how to deal with guilt.
Examine your feelings
It can be tempting to ignore negative emotions, especially when you feel guilty all the time. However, acknowledging your feelings and considering where they come from can ultimately help you deal with your emotions in a constructive way. Addressing your feelings head-on can make it easier for you to move forward.
Shift your perspective
Unhealthy guilt can cause us to view things through a negative lens. Looking at things from another angle can help you see things differently. For example, if you tend to obsess over past mistakes, you could try focusing on positive changes that could help you handle things more productively in the future.
Be kind to yourself
Perfection is an impossible goal. Instead of criticizing yourself for perceived mistakes, practice self-forgiveness. Avoid negative self-talk and take time to remind yourself of your positive qualities. Do your best to treat yourself with the same compassion you show to other people in your life. Practice self-care so you give yourself time to rest, relax, and learn how to cope with stress that guilt and shame might be causing in your life.
Focus on the positive
Guilt can be all-consuming, especially when you have a guilt complex. Give yourself opportunities to think about the positive aspects of your life. Starting a gratitude journal will give you the chance to document what you’re grateful for and redirect any harmful, negative thoughts. Gratitude has been proven effective in changing how we think about or approach things in our life, even when we’re feeling guilty about things.
Open up to family and friends
Sometimes, talking to people about what you’re feeling can help you see things in a new light. Trusted friends and family members can provide you with support, encouragement, and advice. Everyone experiences negative emotions, but a strong social support system can make these feelings easier to manage.
There are many ways to manage guilt, but if you’ve been struggling with extreme or constant guilt, you may need the help of a mental health professional. A therapist can help you understand your feelings and where they’re coming from. Therapy can also teach you to deal with a variety of emotions — beyond just guilt — in a healthier way.
“Working with a mental health professional, in person or online, is often the best way to work through a guilt complex. Trained professionals can help in identifying individual causes and how to manage them as a person moves forward in life. Being sure that a person understands what’s going on in their own complexities allows for them to be more in control of their own thoughts and emotions pertaining to guilt.”