Sometimes we feel guilty unreasonably for things that just are not our fault. Guilt is the emotion you feel if you let yourself or others down by failing to meet a particular standard.

Guilt is frequently viewed as a virtue, as a high sense of responsibility and morality. The truth, however, is that guilt is the greatest destroyer of emotional energy. It leaves you feeling immobilized in the present by something that has already occurred.

Reflecting on past behaviour and learning from it is instructive. On the other hand, unending remorse about past mistakes serves no useful purpose. Excessive guilt is one of the biggest destroyers of self-esteem, individuality, creativity, and personal development. Constantly feeling guilty and responsible for everything and everyone can create a lot of stress and overthinking.

People with unresolved guilt might feel irritable or always on edge. They may be overly clingy or apologetic.

A guilt complex may relate to a person’s childhood – when parents are overly disapproving or withhold praise, children may frequently feel guilty for what they see as their ‘badness’.

I always identify common ‘guilt triggers’ when working with clients: 1. not always being there for your children, partner or parents 2. saying NO at work or at home 3. taking time for yourself.

Next time you find yourself in the ‘guilt trap’, approach your thoughts with self-compassion. Review the event in your head and feel into it – was your action appropriate and acceptable under the circumstances? If yes, do something for yourself that helps you to relax and let go. If your action was inappropriate, can you correct it? How?

The most important thing is to allow yourself to grow with the experience. Give yourself the opportunity to practice self-forgiveness and awareness to identify negative self-talk with compassion.