10 Effective Ways of Overcoming Guilt and How to Forgive Yourself

The tragedy of Macbeth tells the story of a Scottish General. Thane of Glamis. After a prophecy by three witches that he will one day be King. Thanes Kills the King and takes over to be  King of Scotland. Events that follow throughout the plot of Shakespeare’s masterpiece document the role of guilt in Thane’s subsequent actions. His murderous act haunts him throughout the play. The remorse, paranoia and regret of his blood stained hands stand in his way of enjoying his ill-fated kingship. 

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Guilt is neither simple nor nice. In fact, there is no easy way to escape the haunting of guilt. But like so many other emotional responses, guilt also possess healthy psychological developments. However, the overarching finality when it comes to remorse; is to take action or suffer in silence.

The best action to take in such occasions is accept the transgression and seek forgiveness. Until then will you have the ability to cleanse your wrongdoing and forgive yourself. Perhaps in his portrayal of guilt in Macbeth, Shakespeare attempts to suggest that no matter how hard we try to hide the remorse of our wrongdoings – the effects are only ill-fated.

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Macbeth premiering  at the Edinburgh International Festival

Nevertheless, Lady Macbeth who is the major driving force behind Macbeth’s murderous plot tries to convince him that;- although the implications of their bloody action might not be hidden the blood can easily be washed away. The following lines reveal Macbeth’s desperate plea to escape his sense of guilt with a grand dramaturgy that implies his action will forever make him a changed man. 

‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood

Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather’

There are many reasons why we feel guilty. The fear that we are not living up to our standards and the expectations of society is also a possible cause of guilt. An instance of wrongdoing might not necessarily grant guilt and remorse. Additionally,  guilt might be psychological discomfort against actions we have no control of. Your daughter might feel guilty that she took music in college while you wanted her to become an aeronaut. My friend feels guilty because they broke up with his girlfriend. Sarah felt guilty because she had made no effort to tell her deceased granny how much she loved her.[Read the story of Sarah on what makes us feel guilty].

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From my perspective, I find my friend’s sense of guilt to be rather than a failure to live up to his values but as a lack of connection; that had once been nurtured between him and his girlfriend. After the break-up, the effect of loss plus the regrets that had he treated her better; often than not remain to be the fuel of guilt.

The sudden loss of a loved one might  not necessarily create remorse. In fact, according to a 2018 statistics about Post heartbreak pain, the feeling of unworthiness to connection creates shame – which eventually if not acted upon causes guilt.

To act upon such emotional responses demands of us to understand the related case of our guilt. The following are different cases of guilt. I compiled the entire list from Goodtherapy.org. 

Chronic Guilt

Occasionally, chronic guilt is attached to resentment and anger. It is the guilt we feel once we can’t reach to what is not available to us. For instance someone we love, or something we desperately want, maybe a job. The damned dream of a distraught child trying to reach out to their dream only to realize its futile.

Between ages 17-18 I myself suffered from the resentment of a strict upbringing. The conditions I had set myself for life didn’t seem to tick. While I chased my dreams, it felt painfully valueless to live in the face of disappointment after disappointment.   

Post Assault/abuse/trauma linked Guilt

A meta analysis by the BBC reveals that 60% of women or girls, aged 14 years and above; and who had obtained non consensual sex through threat, incapacitation or force, did not immediately acknowledge that they had been raped. Surprisingly, these numbers collected from upto 28 studies reveal a shocking reality of the major reason why most cases of sexual assault are not reported right away.

The varying debate in the subconscious part of the victim is whether they might have contributed to their victimization. Often, people with a post assault guilt will find it difficult to accept that their fate wasn’t their fault. You might deem it worth to fact check the essay on why most rape victims never acknowledge what happened.

Meanwhile, Trauma therapy could be important in assisting a post assault victim in re-framing the event; and help them understand that they were not worth of the action and did nothing wrong to contribute to the case of assault. 

Mistake/Choice Linked Guilt

This type of guilt is linked to empathy or admittance of a wrongdoing. It is the only type of guilt attached to some level of positive psychological development. Admittance of a wrong will probably prompt a person to be sensitive of their later choices. However, one’s morality and their sense of guilt are the only attribute that will balance the positivity of later choices.

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Macbeth’s guilt is so strong that it engulfed his daily doings. Nevertheless, the guilt does not prevent him from carrying out another murderous act. The killing of Banquo. Macbeth murders Banquo so as to hide his secret- of killing King Duncan. Therefore, it seems the detachment of morality from guilt might be the root of more insensitive actions – hence resulting to more guilt-causing actions. 

Mental Health Linked Guilt

Implications of mental health complications may take the form of withdrawal, suicidal behavior, avoidance, attacking and violent mannerisms.  This usually affects how a person relates with other people, especially those close to them.

Helen couldn’t help feeling guilty after noticing how her state of depression was affecting those around her.

This will probably affect the love they have forged for themselves; and only counselling can easily get them back on fit.  

10 Ways to Overcome Guilt 

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To prevent your productivity becoming completely thrown out of balance. I have dug the surface of guilt and depression linked remorse to provide you 10 tips on how to overcome guilt. 

  1. Understand the purpose and the cause of the guilt. Identify whether the kind of guilt your are experiencing is unproductive. Remind yourself that there’s no need of being overly critical. 
  2. Journal about your feelings. Courtney Ackerman in ‘Using Pen and Paper to enhance Personal Growth’ tells about the therapeutic nature of writing. The writer claims that expressive writing has significant healing benefits to trauma victims. Writing therapy is a form of expressive therapy that eases feelings of emotional trauma.
  3. If your guilt is a result of a wrongdoing, find it worth to apologise. Ensure that your apology is sincere and dont make sorry just a sorry word
  4. Reflect on the situation, investigate the root of the guilt and attempt to find a way of preventing a similar occurrence. 
  5. Learn to forgive yourself.
  6. Transform feelings of guilt into gratitude and as a way of changing things.
  7. Realize each day is a new beginning, move on from the guilt and be mindful of other things in your life.
  8. Do not withdraw from your social circle, meet new people, implement new spiritual practices, listen to religious teachings, commune with others to pray and discuss important matters, spend time in nature, hike, swim, go skateboarding and if possible get into meditation or yoga. 
  9. Embrace imperfection – Its not for humans to be perfect.
  10. If you are unable to move on past your guilt, seek help from a therapist. Feelings of guilt might be implications of mental health conditions and a therapist would provide significant assistance.

Bottomline

Thank You for Coming this Far. 

Are you struggling with mental health conditions? Find additional resources from https://13reasonswhy.info – The site provides a list  of mental health services and advocacy groups for all countries. 

 

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