Effects of Guilt on a Person’s Behaviour
Guilt can be described as taking responsibility, and regretting actions that they have done, actions that they perceive as wrong.
Shame and guilt are very closely related. When we are shamed, we feel humiliated, we view ourselves negatively,and we start to experience low self-esteem and depression. When we are shamed for not being able to affect a work-life balance, we accept the blame for this discrepancy and we start to feel guilty. Research indicates that people who aremore prone to shame, are also more likely to show signs of depression.
Guilt is a way of punishing ourselves, and this can be very detrimental to our well-being. If we just 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 comes down.
A mother’s guilt is an example of chronic guilt. Women who are wives and mothers, and are in a paid job, often feel guilty about not being the perfect mom, wife, and homemaker, as depicted through media. They are constantly torn between their career and their home. Typically, this in ability to balance home and work life is portrayed as an individual problem, and not the result of imbalanced socio-eco trends. The guilt a working woman often deals with can be crippling, emotionally and mentally and ultimately also take a toll on her health.
Strategies to eliminate guilt:
- Set up clear boundaries between home/personal life and work life.
- It is crucial that we learn how 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 is works for you.
- Stop checking work emails at home, and stop checking personal emails at work. May be 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 mails/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 24x7. Set aside some time 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 some mindful meditation; go for a walk, what you do is not important. 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 actually good for you, especially when it makes you want to do something to correct the situation.
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, do you need to accept.
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