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Feelings of guilt and self-confidence

 Feelings of guilt and self-confidence 


Who among us has not experienced a sense of guilt in our life? It is familiar to everyone because guilt is a basic human emotion. Some of our actions evoke slight reproaches of our conscience, and some make us feel guilty all our lives. How much we can penetrate this feeling depends on many reasons: from character traits to the severity of the negative actions and events themselves.

In religion and philosophy, the sense of guilt is considered a prerequisite of conscience, it is the basis of personal and social responsibility, therefore it is assessed as an important positive human quality.

Feelings of guilt and self-confidence


Psychotherapists, on the other hand, deal with the negative side of the feeling of guilt, when this emotion becomes the cause, provoking and aggravating factor of various neuroses, neurotic states, mental and bodily illnesses.


Unfortunately, a completely innocent person can feel guilty too. For example, in front of a seven-year-old boy, his beloved uncle drowned. 

After this misfortune, the child could not come to his senses for a long time, he often saw in a dream how his uncle reproached him for not saving him. 

Although he was drunk and drowned out of his indiscretion, the boy had a sense of guilt for an imperfect act.


Later, when he was studying at the institute, his best friend was killed in a fight with his participation. From experiences (again he could not save, help!) “Other people's thoughts”, “fog” appeared in his head. The guy began to feel that "the hands were alien" -

 he saw, but did not recognize them. His psyche could not stand the experience of a powerful sense of guilt. For 10 years he lived in such a "fog", withdrawing into himself. After psychotherapy, along with the feeling of guilt, all inadequate feelings and thoughts disappeared.


Or another story. Once upon a time there was a beauty and a clever girl. She was accustomed to the excessive attention of men and easily broke hearts. She was married more than once and each time for ardent love. As a child, she experienced a terrible grief: her mother died.

 And the grandmother explained to the baby (to obey!) That her mother died because her daughter did not obey her. And the little girl was very worried, taking the blame for the death of her mother on herself. 

And when, having fallen in love, she left another husband, who because of her left his wife and children, the abandoned husband died of grief.


The new marriage did not bring the expected happiness, because after the death of her ex-husband, the beauty began to acutely experience a sense of guilt, familiar to her from childhood. 

And then she became terminally ill. In the hope of salvation, she began to attend church, prayed, but did not feel relief until she came to psychotherapy.


From the point of view of religion, everything seems to be correct here: a person admits his guilt, repents, prays, and tries to “wash away his sin” with prayers and repentance. And the psychotherapist, to save him from difficult experiences that provoke the disease, begins his work by helping the patient to overcome the false feeling of guilt that has haunted him since childhood for a misdeed that he did not commit.


What is the mechanism of the negative influence, the destructive effect of the feeling of guilt on the human body?


In both children and adults, guilt can significantly affect health if they have developed a habit of taking responsibility for their own and others' actions from an early age. Such a habit can arise if a child receives a serious trauma and, due to fears, magical thinking or inexperience, takes responsibility for this negative event. Older children, who are used to being responsible for younger siblings, are especially prone to take the blame.


By the way, the reason for guilt can be not only an event, but also an act, feeling, thought, contrary to ethical standards. And moral and ethical norms and beliefs are absorbed by the child in the environment in which he is from birth, and are the result of educational measures and parental attitudes. Toddlers are well aware of what is good and what is bad, and that failure to follow the rules leads to censure and punishment.


Children, upon whom sudden grief, trouble falls in childhood, begin to consider this a punishment for some of their actions. The worse and more serious the misfortune, the more guilty a child can feel. 

A child in this state readily accepts responsibility for the behavior of adults and even for the negative event itself.

Further, the childhood experience of experiencing severe psychotraumas triggers, along with anxiety, the fear that the trouble may repeat itself. 

And the child develops a willingness in later life to again take responsibility for any misfortunes that occur around him.


Even if in childhood a severe psychotrauma passes, at first glance, without a trace, it can make itself felt already in adulthood, when a traumatic situation similar in severity of experiences is repeated. The familiar feeling of guilt and intolerance of difficult experiences that appears after this leads to a breakdown of psycho-protective mechanisms, a decrease in immunity, which, in turn, provoke neuroses and neurotic states, psychotic reactions or diseases of internal organs.


Parents often do not realize what catastrophic consequences their words can lead to when, for example, for educational purposes they repeat: “If you don’t obey, your mother will get sick, your grandmother will die,” and so on. 

Even such a difficult event for a child, as a divorce of parents, mothers can use to accentuate the guilt of the child: "Dad left us because you behaved badly, if you do not obey, then I will leave or I may die!"


And what child always and in everything obeys parents? And, God forbid, what happened to my mother, for example, and an impressionable, vulnerable child will be ready to subconsciously accept the blame for illness or death. 

And this is the path to misfortune and disease.


Even if the child is to blame for something, you cannot focus on his guilt and mistakes, it is better to calm and distract him so that he feels safe. This is so important for his health and a successful future!

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