‘Why Do I Feel So Guilty All The Time?’ It Could Be Your Guilt Complex Talking!
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I know why you’re here. It’s because of the nagging feeling of guilt over leaving your loved one’s chat unanswered or that worry over being called out for something you said in yesterday’s meeting or something similar, isn’t it?
This constant anxiety and dread that you live with are called having a “guilt complex”. These feelings of guilt can pop up when you hear from a friend you haven’t talked to in a while or at work when you think you’ll be called out for not doing a good job when you are and haven’t done anything wrong.
If you’ve been experiencing this guilty feeling, then you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll explore why you always feel guilty, the reasons behind it, and how you can cope with your guilt complex.
So, let’s begin!
What Is A Guilt Complex?
Guilt complex is that constant feeling that you’ve done something wrong or will do something wrong in the future. This feeling can not only cause constant anxiety but can also bring forth feelings of shame and worry.
While guilt complex is not recognized as a condition in the DSM-5, it can still be a symptom of many mentally and emotionally distressing conditions such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Also referred to as ‘false guilt’, this condition can make us feel stress, cause insomnia, and low self-esteem.
Guilt complex comes when we break rules or think that we’ve broken some rules. These rules can be the unwritten rules of society or our personal rules. For example, you may feel guilty for canceling a plan with a friend at the last minute. For others, this can equate to cheating.
The guilty complex can also depend a lot on our personalities and how we were raised. Some people may feel intense guilt over anything whereas others may not feel much guilt. Moreover, the stereotypes we are raised with can also play a role in developing the guilt complex.
For example, girls are taught to stay quiet and follow orders, whereas boys are allowed to be mischievous. So many girls may feel guilty for not following the “societal rules” even though they are not doing anything wrong and vice versa.
Signs Of Having A Guilt Complex
Guilt is an emotion that is more about negative self-evaluation, feeling distressed, and feeling like a failure. Some common signs of you having a guilt complex can include:
- Feeling anxious
- Experiencing insomnia
- Muscle tension
- Ruminating on past experiences
- Feeling regret
- Stomach ache
- Over Worrying
Guilt complexes can also cause you to experience symptoms of depression, stress, fatigue, loss of focus, and social isolation. Overall, the guilt complex can seriously impact your overall wellness. Moreover, this distressing condition can also impact your social and romantic relationships.
What Causes Guilt Complex?
Several factors contribute to your guilt complex. Some can be:
- Anxiety: Anxiety can cause you negative self-assessment that, in turn, can lead to feeling guilty.
- Childhood Behaviors: If you’ve been raised in a strict home environment where you were made to feel ashamed if you did something wrong or were responsible for others’ problems, then you’re likely to develop a guilty complex.
- Cultural Factors: If your cultural background doesn’t allow certain behaviors and if you engage in those behaviors that are out of the norm, then you may also struggle with a guilt complex.
- Societal Factors: If you were made to feel that people are judging you for what you’re doing or have done, then this kind of behavior may also cause you to develop a guilty complex.
The Types Of Guilt Complex
Yes, many types of guilt can add to your guilt complex. Some of these types of guilt can be:
- Natural Guilt: If you have actually done something wrong and feel bad about it, then guilt is a normal response. This guilt can motivate you to change your behavior in the future. However, if you fail to change or adapt, then the feelings of guilt and remorse can disrupt your mental peace.
- Maladaptive Guilt: This type of guilt occurs when you feel guilt over something that you had no control over. For example, you may feel guilty when you watch an accident happening where you couldn’t have done anything to prevent it.
- Guilt Over Thoughts: Having negative thoughts now and then is common but when you feel guilty for having these thoughts, then this can be a type of guilty complex.
- Existential Guilt: This guilt is quite complicated and is often based on things like not being able to live according to societal rules or principles set by oneself. Survivors’ guilt is one of the subtypes of existential guilt.
What To Do About Your Guilt Complex?
Having a guilt complex can seriously affect your mental and emotional well-being. Addressing the guilt complex and getting the right help is important. Well, luckily, there are many options available to help you cope with your guilt complex.
One of the most effective psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) when it comes to identifying negative thoughts and beliefs and replacing them with positive ones. You can learn to let go of your unnecessary guilt with CBT.
A therapist can help you understand why you’ve developed a guilt complex, how it’s affecting your life, and what you can do to change your thinking patterns. Seeking help for the guilt complex can help you understand yourself better too.
If your feelings of guilt or guilt complex are severe enough to affect your normal and healthy lifestyle, then a doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to help you ease your feelings of guilt.
It is recommended that you always consult with your doctor or therapist before taking any medications as many medications can have side effects. It is also suggested that you combine psychotherapy and medication for better results.
3. Shift Your Focus
If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts, then shifting your focus or reframing your situation can help. Think about what other factors were involved with what happened. Focus on more realistic possibilities than only thinking about self-reprimand.
4. Self-Forgiveness Can Help
Self-forgiveness can help a lot in easing your guilt. Self-forgiveness does not mean letting yourself forget or move on from the mistake you made but it’s about taking responsibility and allowing yourself to make necessary changes or amends and move on.
5. Talk To A Trusted Person
Talking about your feelings with a trusted friend can be beneficial. Social support can play a huge role when it comes to coping with challenging emotions. If you can’t find yourself talking to a loved one, you can always reach out to a professional for help.
Guilt is not necessarily a bad or negative emotion. Remember, that feeling guilty over something can even motivate you to become better in the future. Guilt can also help you figure out what you should change and ways you can mend your relationships with others.
The problem comes when the feeling of guilt is too overwhelming and overpowering. When you feel that your guilt is constant and is disrupting your mental peace, it’s then you need to seek help. Talk to a counselor or a mental health professional to learn how to cope with the guilt complex.
You can always connect with BetterHelp’s trusted, licensed, and experienced professionals for help. Sign up below!
Don’t let your guilt complex steal your peace of mind. If you’re asking yourself, “Why do I feel guilty all the time?”, well, it could be your guilt complex talking. I hope with the above steps, you’ll find some solutions to your complicated feelings.
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