Effects of Guilt on a Person’s Behaviour

Table of Contents

Guilt can be described as taking responsibility and regretting actions that they have done, they perceive as wrong. The effects of guilt are wide-ranging.

Shame and guilt are very closely related. When we are shamed, we feel humiliated, view ourselves negatively, and experience low self-esteem and depression. When we are shamed for being unable to affect a work-life balance, we accept the blame for this discrepancy and start to feel guilty. Research indicates that people more prone to shame are more likely to show signs of depression.

Guilt is a way of punishing ourselves, which can be very detrimental to our well-being. If we feel guilty, there are two negative outcomes. First off, by only accepting the guilt, we do nothing to change, and the situation does not improve.  Secondly, by accepting all the guilt, even when it is wrongly ascribed, we can end up depressed, and our overall functioning decreases.

A mother’s guilt is an example of chronic guilt. Women who are wives and mothers and are in paid jobs often feel guilty about not being the perfect mom, wife, and homemaker, as depicted in the media. They are constantly torn between their career and their home. Typically, this ability to balance home and work is portrayed as an individual problem and not resulting from imbalanced socio-eco trends. The effects of guilt on a working woman who often deals with it can be crippling, emotionally and mentally and ultimately also take a toll on her health.

Strategies to eliminate effects of guilt:

– Set up clear boundaries between home/personal life and work life.

– It is crucial that we learn to be ‘fully present in every aspect of our life. True, this is easier said than done. However, there are ways to do this, and there is no harm in asking for help.

– Learn to harness technology, so that it works for you.

– Stop checking work emails at home and personal emails at work. Maybe you can set aside time during your work day to check in on personal stuff.

– Same rule for work emails, if there is a crisis at work, you can set aside some time from your personal time to respond to work emails/calls.  Attending work issues on personal time and vice versa cannot be the norm. It has to be the exception to the norm.

– You do not have to be in ‘on’ mode 24×7. Set aside sometime in your day for me time. You could choose to sit with a glass of wine and do absolutely nothing else; you could indulge in mindful meditation or go for a walk; what you do is unimportant. What is important here is that you make the time for yourself to do something that makes you happy. Ideally, keep a bit of each day for yourself.

The thing to remember is that shame is never good for anyone. But guilt, at some level of guilt, is good for you, especially when it makes you want to do something to correct the situation. How to treat stress and anxiety?

That said, remember you need to be clear before you accept guilt for anything, whether it is genuinely your fault and how much, if any, guilt you need to accept.

Contact me now, and let’s chat about how I can help if you struggle.

Andrea A Smith
Andrea A Smith

I help Individuals and Organisations to manage workplace stress, anxiety & overwhelm. By building long-lasting resilience, having a step-by-step guide for forming habits that stick and creating an anti-burnout culture: individuals and teams can improve their performance and productivity. To feel happier, healthier and in control of your emotions and life.