Yearly Archives: 2021

Letting Go of Guilt by Rick Holmes, PhD

Guilt is the uncomfortable feeling we often experience when we have done something wrong whether real or imagined. Guilt is also a feeling that involves self-blame and a sense of responsibility for a regretted action or thought. People experience guilty feelings with regret and self-reproach over the belief that they have done, or will do, something wrong or inadequately. Guilt often results from the perception of falling short of self-expectations or the expectations of others. Like many feelings, guilt is often based on irrational thoughts, not facts.
Guilt can be both healthy and unhealthy. Healthy guilt keeps people functioning in socially acceptable ways and is often associated with a conscience or moral code. Unhealthy guilt, which happens more commonly, occurs when people establish unreasonably high standards for themselves and then feel guilty when they are unable to maintain these standards or when they perseverate on little things that don’t meet their personal standard. This guilt is often out of proportion to the harm that was caused, or even disconnected from any real harm. Perceived guilt is when a person feels guilty even though he/she had no or little control over something that happened, or when a person negatively interprets the consequences of his/her actions.
When guilt stems from something you did to someone, apologizing and seeking to avoid repeating your behavior is one clear way to respond and could help you achieve self-forgiveness. The past is the past, so at some point, even if there are things you have done to hurt others, if you are sorry now, you need to let them go.
Sometimes guilt is unrelated to actual misbehavior or becomes counterproductive. Remedies for unnecessary guilt may include reflecting on factors that were beyond your control, acknowledging what you know now that you didn’t in the past, and considering whether your standards for yourself are too unforgiving.
When we are struggling with guilt, it can also be an opportunity to draw upon our Faith. We all make mistakes, and God’s Word says that we all have sinned. No matter how you came to your situation or how long you’ve carried that distressing burden of guilt, God is ready with the solution. His arms are outstretched to you…
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John3:17). It’s not God’s purpose to condemn you; it’s His desire to take away your sins, to keep you from sin, and to save you through Jesus Christ.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). If you follow Jesus and stay true to him, you don’t have to worry about the judgement; your guilt can be a thing of the past.
If you are stuck in a cycle of guilt, resentment, or shame, reach out to a mental health professional. We are here at Pike Creek Psychological Center to assist you in your journey.

Recent Articles

Take the next step. Call for an appointment.