What is Misplaced Guilt?

Are you living with guilt? Maybe you hurt someone unintentionally, or you know someone who did and you’re experiencing some guilt. Maybe you are relating to their pain and want to alleviate it for them but can’t. Feelings of guilt can eat away at you inside; an unhealthy emotion if not worked out, giving into those knots in your stomach which don’t go away. In order to determine this type of guilt, one must step back and assess the situation and ask yourself, “What harm did I do to this person?” “Did I knowingly do harm to others?” In order to be guilty you would have done something wrong. When people intentionally harm others, they know what they’re doing is wrong. If you’re able to answer these questions with a “no” and somehow feel guilty in regards to someone you may know, this would be an example of misplaced guilt.

Misplaced Guilt happens to most of us at some time in our lives. It is a reaction that one accepts the blame for an event that was out of their control. Placing blame where it doesn’t belong in the first place poses problematic for individuals who allow it in their lives; as they become the scapegoat for this type of behavior. This behavior can be found in relationships such as close friendships, family members or spouses.

It is important to learn how to manage feelings of guilt. Managing guilt can promote healthy relationships, giving the ability to be more open and honest with others. It also allows one to apologize with more ease, making almost any situation better. In order to deal with guilt appropriately, you must understand the underlying reasons for those feelings and ultimately what caused it. It’s similar to solving a math equation; understanding the different steps of it, in order to solve it. We have to make sense out of it, analyzing piece by piece so we understand it. Carrying feelings of misplaced guilt can cause depression and anxiety. Some people can hang on to these for long periods of time, letting it destroy positive emotions for a healthier lifestyle.

An example of guilty feelings might be like this; someone you know, such as a loved one… died of illness or unexpectedly in an accident, and you were supposed to meet them earlier in the day but you cancelled to do something else; now you blame yourself. More common than not, people have experienced similar situations, placing guilt upon them. It’s important to identify the problem and feelings you are having. This is a real example of misplaced guilt.

Guilt, forgiveness and feelings of failure all share similar emotions. If you can’t identify them, it is usually recommended you seek help from a professional at some point in time. We all need to be healthy, physically and emotionally; it’s what keeps us going in a better direction. There is no time like the present. Clear the webs that reside in your thoughts, and let go of what doesn’t need to be there. And last but not least… forgive yourself. You’d be surprised at how many people blame an event that happened, or themselves, for the past. Be good to yourself.

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