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

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