Hilber Psychological Services
Therapy for Children, Teens, & Adults in San Diego
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Hilber Psychological Services

San Diego Therapists | Child Therapist | Couples Counseling | ADHD | Anxiety | Parenting | Behaviors | Relationships | Marriage and Family Therapists | Psychologists | Professional Clinical Counselors

Too much guilt?

Do you have too much guilt? Does it eat away your insides? Do you often say "should" statements? There is a time and place for guilt, meaning that guilt is useful in some situations. Maybe we go to stand in line at starbucks only to realize there's a long line that we accidentally bypassed, or maybe we accidentally knock over a vase and it breaks, or even accidentally hurt someone's feelings. The key word here is "accidentally" and these situations illustrate that we just didn't notice something or someone. We can problem solve and use our coping skills in these situations, so we would go to the back of the line, apologize and pay for the broken vase, or apologize to the person and explain that you didn't mean what you said. After we do something of the sort, we can feel better and guilt can go away.

Relationship advice

However, sometimes the guilt likes to stay longer than usual or maybe it occurs more than the usual scenarios. Maybe we feel guilty almost daily for not eating better or working out enough. Does this guilt help you work out more? Does it make you eat better? Most people say "no" - it does not actually change their choices or habits.

This means that we are feeling guilty for no reason. We are wasting our energy, time, focus, and emotions on guilt when there's no reason. With extra, unnecessary guilt there are most likely "should" statements in our daily vocabulary. Based on the cognitive distortions or thinking mistakes, "shoulds" add more guilt where we don't need it. This is the brain's way of feigning that we're better than we actually are. The problem with that idea is that we are telling ourselves that we need to be different than who we are. I'm sure you can imagine how a child would feel if we told him, "you need to be a different person than who you really are." Adults are a little more sophisticated as we've practiced for many years, but we slide in the guilt with "should" statements.

Your challenge this week: Be aware of when you use "shoulds" or if you add unnecessary guilt. Try to redo the statement without the "should" and see how often you can correct yourself with an appropriate statement.

If you'd like more ideas on how to feel better or would like more information, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.