Guilt has an important function in our lives because guilt teaches us how to recognize right from wrong. Our guilt kicks in when we deeply believe or feel that we know what we have done is wrong. What differentiates guilt from the similar experience of shame is that shame causes us to not only feel what we have done is wrong but that who we are is wrong as well. Like shame, however, guilt can become a toxic situation.
Toxic guilt goes beyond the moralistic lesson learning of right versus wrong. Guilt becomes toxic when the perception of doing something wrong becomes pervasive- even when nothing wrong has been done, we feel utterly convinced and convicted that we have done something wrong. The placement of our guilt then becomes unrealistic and our thoughts about ourselves and the way we act in the world become unrealistic- because it is unrealistic that we are wrong all of the time.
Survivors of trauma commonly experience a sense of guilt, either for what happened to them, what didn’t happen to them, or what happened to others. Guilt can come from years of programming due to physical abuse, verbal abuse, abandonment, neglect, and more. We are taught to feel wrong for everything that we do, eventually leading us to feel wrong for everything that we are. Without changing these painful thought patterns, we might be driven to self-harm, substance abuse, or other compulsive means for easing this pain. At once, we try to punish ourselves and liberate ourselves from the sentencing guilt puts on us every day.
Releasing toxic guilt starts with separating fact from fiction. We have to take an intensive look at all of the areas in our life where we think we are at fault for doing something wrong. Next, we evaluate how factual or fictional our guilty conviction is. Working with a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma helps us realize where our thoughts have come from, process the traumas which caused these thoughts, and help us move forward away from guilt. The more we realize our guilt is fictional, the freer we become. Our trauma stops keeping a hold on our lives and we finally start to heal- which we never have to feel guilty about.
Trauma is most often the root cause of many emotional, behavioral, and mood disorders. Until you can heal your trauma, you will find great difficulty finding the healing you need to live a life of recovery, health, and wellness. At Khiron House, we provide effective residential treatment and cutting edge therapies which seek to transform mind, body, and spirit from the effects of trauma. Call us today for information. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours) USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).