What’s The Big Deal About Guilt
Guilt has been the punchline of many a comedian, however, guilt is not a laughing matter. In a simplistic way we can look at emotions as being a positive or negative. I say this is simplistic because many of what people consider to be negative emotions actually have a positive side to them, which makes them neither all positive or all negative. Guilt on the other hand is the one truly negative emotion because it really has no positive flip side.
Guilt is about control pure and simple. People use guilt as a means of keeping people in line. These people include themselves. Governments and religions often have guilt as a cornerstone of their power base. All this being said, guilt can destroy people’s lives and can cause them to take responsibility for things that are not under their control.
As a psychotherapist, I spend a great deal of time helping people to take control of their lives and responsibility for where they are in it. Guilt is seldom internally imposed, but more often it is externally imposed. The simplist way to look at it is if there is something that can be done about a situation do it. If nothing can be done, there is no need to feel guilt about it as there is nothing that can be done except perhaps to learn from the experience and move on.