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Why do I feel guilty about everything and how do I stop doing it?

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The number of people who come for consultation with a great feeling of guilt, of which, sometimes, they are not even aware is overwhelming..

This is a self-generated emotion, based on the internal beliefs that we have about what is right and what is wrong, comparing what we have done with what we should have done according to our scale of values. But where did all this come from?

  • Related article: "10 keys to increase your self-esteem in 30 days"

Causes of feeling guilty about everything

We start from the basis that all emotions are adaptive and fulfill a function within us. When guilt is functional, it helps us to recognize our mistakes and to repair them, and to carry out a learning task, being able not to commit them again in the future.

For this process to work, there is what is called moral conscience: it is a set of norms and values ​​that we have been assuming and internalizing since we were children, in order to have an ethic that guides us, differentiating what is right from what is wrong, in order to put limits on our behavior and our way of thinking, and on those of the the rest.

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We are learning all this through education in the family, in school, in religious beliefs, in the messages that reach us through the media... and the people around us become models for us.

But how do we know if this moral conscience is too rigid and is hurting us? When we often feel that we exceed these limits and live with guilt almost daily, we may have to relax our moral conscience.

The problem is that, in this trial, we ourselves are lawyers, judges and defendants; and in these circumstances, it is difficult for us to ensure conditions that guarantee the objectivity of the “guilty judgment”, for which reason we punish ourselves without control and without measure.

Thus, this guilt needs three main factors to take place:

  • The causal act, whether real or imaginary.
  • The perception and negative self-assessment of this act, it is important to note that they are only ideas, and do not have to be real.
  • The negative emotion that appears after the previous two, in relation to guilt: remorse. This is what works as punishment, in the form of sadness, anguish, frustration, impotence, among others, and repetitive and unproductive thoughts.

The habitual or permanent feeling of guilt may be affecting our self-esteem, since, we tend to distort reality, to have a limiting and exhausting self-dialogue, and to build a negative self-concept.

When talking about guilt, we are very close to concepts such as self-esteem, perfectionism, lack of self-confidence, self-censorship, fear, assertiveness, emotional regulation... A) Yes, guilt is directly related to most of the most common emotional problems in our society, being difficult, in many occasions, the identification of the cause or the consequence between them, since a vicious circle is established in the relationship between both.


Let's look at some examples of this phenomenon.

"I consider myself a good mother, because I am always there if my son needs me: I take care of him, play with him, do the homework for him. home… But one day I feel sick and obviously I can't do everything I normally do: I need to stay in bed and to rest. Then, I start to think that I am a bad mother, because I am neglecting him, it is my obligation to be there for him. "

In this case, interpreting this situation in this way, the person will feel anguish, frustration and guilt. But do you think he's fair or right?

"I have a partner, and I am always making plans with him, having practically left other people behind. One day, my friends propose a plan that I've been wishing I could do with them for a long time, and of course, I sign up. At the moment, I begin to think that I am a bad girlfriend for abandoning my partner. "

In this case, the person will also feel guilty. Do you think it is healthy, or adjusted to reality?

How can we stop feeling so guilty about everything?

Of course, many other beliefs come into play that need to be worked on, but the key is to differentiate responsibility from fault.

If we take responsibility for our actions and accept our limitations and everything that we do not have under our control, we will be able to adapt based on learning from our experience, and changing what is best for us and the / as the rest:

  • Guilt speaks of us as a global person; It is a decisive and immovable judgment, which is why it blocks us, leaving us no option to change.
  • Responsibility makes it easier for us to specify and take charge of something specific, allowing us to change or modify what we need or deem appropriate.

In conclusion, blame depends on a part of us that we can work on and act on; We can learn strategies to free ourselves from maladaptive guilt, allowing ourselves to be responsible people.

This is something that many people have been requesting in therapy, so if you need help or have any questions with Regarding this topic and / or any other, do not hesitate to contact us, as we will be delighted to be able to help you.

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