Guilt and your relationship with it

by Grace on August 13, 2014

Planet earth with sunrise in the space

connecting with emotions

The relationship with guilt

What kind of relationship have you got with yourself?

Such a long time since I have blogged, somehow I feel guilty!

Most times when I come across relationship difficulties, whether it is a client, a friend, or even myself, it is automatically assumed relationships with others are the problems. Our first reaction is to explore ‘Them’ (the other person we having the difficulty with), us, and the problems we deal with when we are dealing with each other

With a lot of the cases the issues of relationships with others have been explored in the past over and over again either with close friends, other counsellors, other professionals, and alone at night during sleepless nights .

I have to admit I have been guilty of exploring my relationships with many people until one day I ran out of people to explore and decided to agree with Albert Einstein when he said: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. The more people I used as examples of how I was relating to them and vice versa the more confused I became. The data I was getting became impossible to manage without a research assistant!

The most practical and productive thing to do I found was to take the common denominator which was ‘me’ and explore how ‘me’ relates to others and how in turn ‘me’ is being related back by others.

Now, I know that a lot of people will feel attacked or defensive when turning the attention on ‘oneself’ as a problem as opposed to ‘them’ the others in the relationship. This is normal but getting past the defences can lead to very interesting discoveries about oneself. The reality is that there is a lot of emotions and attitudes one holds that can get very confusing, especially when mixed with those of ‘Others’,  while we are ‘relating’ to them in a social or personal/intimate situation.

Exploring the layers of emotions until some clarity comes to the forth can help us understand our experience of guilt about ourselves, and our chosen lifestyle.  Most of us automatically associate guilt with having done something unacceptable to another. A classical ‘wrong’ is telling a lie, stealing, hurting or rejecting someone, to name a few. But if we look deeper guilt can also be defined as wronging ourselves.

Self -rejection is something we hide deep within us and thus oblivious to its existence in our lives. Exploring emotions with others, clients, and myself have made me aware of such self-rejection. We are all guilty of doing this! We hide this guilt so deep within us about parts of ourselves that are unacceptable to us, for whatever reason, that it eventually disguises behind anger, sadness, envy, grief, to name a few. Any combinations of these emotions have the potential to lead to a destructive outcome or way of life.

What are we telling ourselves that makes us reject ourselves and condemn ourselves? Many philosophers will see this as a human condition. We humans do this to ourselves but how we deal with this self- rejection can be the difference between an anxious way of being and a healthy authentic one.

Remembering that emotions or physical sensations can be expressions of a guilty soul/heart can help us target the source that holds some truth of who we really are. I noticed that in most, if not all, cases I have worked on understanding our truth or nature rids us of a lot of baggage.

In relationship counselling, it is common to see that even though one person in the relationship might attend the session, changes in the relationship can happen by just dealing with this self-rejection and personal guilt. We are used to asking ourselves ‘have I done something wrong to the other person” or “have they done something wrong to me?” now we have another question to explore when we want our relationships to be more authentic and that is ‘have I done something wrong to me?’  How one treats oneself will have an impact on how the other or others relate back to us.


Melbourne and Prahran Anxiety and Depression Counselling Services


Journey out of depression


What is depression, what is anxiety?

One of the problems we have in dealing with anxiety, regardless of its intensity and duration,  might be the difficulty in pin pointing not only its source but what maintains it. The puzzle can feel so complex that any answer to the problem can appear to be elusive.  As a consequence we might seek out others to enlighten us with their wisdom and therefore helps us understand ourselves and our anxiety better. However, we tend to forget that we have an ability or instinct that is there to help us find answers within ourselves about our own dilemmas.

Ignoring our instincts and negating our abilities can only lead to negative sense of well-being. It will make us feel like something big is missing. A further sense of emptiness and anxiety will follow.  Our need to take control might lead us to establish an object to somehow displace this emptiness or anxiety.  For the purpose of this article I will refer to anxiety as stemming from three sources. In today’s article I will present the source Meaninglessness.


One of the sources that anxiety might stem from is when we lose our sense of meaning in our lives, if we had one, or a lack of meaning all together. It is not surprise therefore that when we lose a job, a relationship, ability, we experience depression and anxiety. Unfortunately we cannot pull ‘meaning’ from a hat like a rabbit is pulled from a hat by a magician. Meaning is a creative process and this creative process, together with the end result, is what gives our lives the vitality that helps us maintain a balanced level of anxiety.

It is common to hear people say: “what is the meaning of life?” or “what is the point?” The good news is that meaning can be created by you. I know that for some of us it would be so much easier if meaning was given to us so that we would not have to deal with creating one. But like I said before it is the process of creating that builds our self-esteem.  Being cut off from this creative participation within our social context whether is as a consequence of external or internal causes will leave us anxious. Each time we create a meaning we are re-energized with love, each time we lose this creativity we mourn in anxiety and depression.

One way in which a person might deal with this dilemma of meaningless (creative participation) might be by surrendering himself and his/her instincts. In doing this the person puts their trust on another person they see as an ‘authority’. In other words the difficult tasks of asking themselves questions, doubting, and answering for themselves are surrendered to another.  A sense of loss of freedom can be experienced when we surrender our responsibility to think for ourselves. It is an escape sometimes necessary in order to escape anxiety caused by lack of meaning. Meaning might be restored momentarily but we might feel compromised in the process if the escape is too long and becomes avoidance.

Therefore when exploring the issue of anxiety and/or depression within the context of ‘meaninglessness” I would advise an approach where you create your own meaning instead of it being given to you by what you might see as an ‘authority’. In the case of counselling/psychotherapy the experience will need to be one whereby you feel engaged in a process of self-discovery where you are the expert of your life story and the counsellor  assists you in reflecting on the unreflected.

Stay tuned for my next post on “guilt”

Melbourne and Prahran Anxiety and Depression Counselling Services


Coming Soon!

September 6, 2012

Check back soon for new articles on depression and anxiety.     Melbourne and Prahran  Anxiety and Depression Counselling Services

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