How to get rid of feeling guilty unnecessarily?

At some point in our lives, we all encounter the sense of guilt, and it can be challenging to deal with. It can be a hefty burden that affects our mental and emotional health. Yet, did you know that there are various kinds of guilt, each with its own distinct traits and coping mechanisms? In this post, we’ll examine the ways of handling guilt efficiently. We will also discuss three types of guilt and offer helpful coping strategies for each.

This article will assist you in handling guilt and navigating through the difficult emotions and coming out stronger on the other side. It will assist you regardless of whether you are coping with unsolved past mistakes, having trouble, or handling guilt because of outside pressures. Read on to learn about the three sorts of guilt and how to deal with each one if you’re ready to be free from the burden of guilt.


  • Guilt is a self-conscious and moral emotion that involves feelings of regret and remorse over a negative behavior.
  • The perception of having transgressed an ethical or moral standard, whether one’s own or not gives rise to guilt.
  • Certain physical and psychological symptoms, including anxiety, despair, self-blame, shame, and a feeling of worthlessness, can accompany guilt in varied degrees of intensity.


Guilt: What’s that?

A sense of responsibility or regret for perceived transgression, whether genuine or imagined, is referred to as guilt. The perception of having transgressed an ethical or moral standard, whether one’s own or not gives rise to this complex emotional condition.

Certain physical and psychological symptoms, including anxiety, despair, self-blame, shame, and a feeling of worthlessness, can accompany guilt in varied degrees of intensity. Many things, including as previous errors, moral failings, failures, and betrayals of trust, might cause it.

Guilt may be a productive feeling that inspires people to accept responsibility for their actions and make amends. But severe or persistent guilt can affect one’s mental state and result in undesirable actions including self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and avoidance.

Why do we suffer, face, and handle guilt?

There are numerous causes for why we could experience pain and guilt. We frequently do so because we have transgressed either our own or someone else’s moral or ethical standards. When we do something we know is wrong or when we neglect to do something we know we should have done, this can happen. We may feel guilty as a method of admitting our wrongdoing when we act in ways that go against our ideals or beliefs.

Another reason we could experience pain and feel guilty is if we set high standards for ourselves. We could have unrealistic expectations of ourselves or aim for perfection. It makes us feel inadequate and guilty when we eventually fall short. This can lead to a self-defeating cycle of guilt and self-doubt that is challenging to escape.

Guilty sentiments might result from outside factors as well. For instance, we could feel bad if we fall short of what our friends, family, or society as a whole expects of us. We could also feel guilty if we are unable to assist those in need or if we fall short of our own expectations of what it means to be a good person.

Whatever its origin, guilt can be a terrible and difficult emotion to deal with. It can, however, also act as a strong catalyst for development and transformation, enabling us to grow from our mistakes and become better versions of ourselves.

Read Blog: Breaking Free from the Lies We Tell Ourselves: Unhelpful Beliefs

What are the three types of guilt?

The three types of guilt are:

1. Adaptive Guilt:

Guilt is a self-conscious and moral emotion that involves feelings of regret and remorse over a negative behavior. Adaptive guilt, or guilt that focuses on specific transgressions, is important for strengthening and maintaining relationships, as it motivates the transgressor to engage in reparative action.

An illustration of adaptive guilt is a student who cheated on a test and feels bad about going against their own sense of academic integrity. They may decide to make amends to their peers, confess to their teacher, or promise to work harder on their studies in the future as a result of the shame they feel.

3. Maladaptive Guilt:

Maladaptive guilt is excessive or chronic and can be bad for our mental and emotional health. It appears when we hold ourselves to unattainable or perfectionistic standards. It appears when we feel guilty about situations that are out of our control. Our self-esteem and confidence can be harmed by maladaptive guilt. It can cause emotions of worthlessness, self-blame, and shame.

Maladaptive guilt causes:

Childhood events, past traumas, and mental health conditions like anxiety, might contribute to maladaptive guilt. External pressures, such as unachievable societal or cultural standards, can also cause it.

Maladaptive guilt can manifest in several ways. For instance, it can manifest as guilt at not being able to care for an ill family member. Even if they are giving everything they can and are doing their best, they still feel bad that they can’t do more. Their mental health may suffer as a result of this guilt, which can cause them to feel inadequate and unworthy.

3. Existential Guilt:

Existential guilt results from our perception that we are imperfect or insufficient as humans. It is a pervasive sense of guilt brought on by our inadequacies and limitations as humans. It can feel overwhelming and all-consuming, making it a challenging sensation to manage.

Existential guilt’s causes:

Such guilt can result from many different things, including religious or cultural beliefs that place a strong emphasis on the concept of original sin or the fallibility of people. It may also be the result of individual experiences, such as falling short of one’s own standards or ideals.

An illustration of existential guilt would be someone who feels bad about their existence because they think they are imperfect or unworthy of love and affection. Without expert assistance and support, it can be difficult to overcome this guilt. It often has roots in early experiences or prior traumas.

Guilt can appear in many different ways and have many different origins. Whether the guilt is adaptive, maladaptive, or existential, it is crucial to identify it.

1. What could cause constant and unreasonable feelings of guilt?

Many reasons, such as the following, might result in persistent and irrational guilt feelings:

  • Poor self-esteem: Those who struggle with their sense of worth may be more likely to experience guilt, even when they haven’t done anything wrong.

Read Blog: 3 Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem and Attract Success

  • Perfectionism: People who have extremely high standards for themselves and think they must always be perfect may feel guilty when they don’t live up to their expectations.
  • Childhood experiences: Childhood experiences, such as receiving excessive criticism or punishment, can cause an adult to feel more guilty than usual.
  • Trauma: Even though they weren’t at fault, people who have experienced traumatic events may feel guilty for what occurred to them.

Read Blog: Trauma: How to Manage health when grappling with trauma?

  • Mental health issues: A number of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), can lead to excessive or illogical guilt among sufferers.
  • Religious or cultural upbringing: Even when there is no obvious cause, guilt feelings can be exacerbated by religious or cultural beliefs that emphasise guilt or shame.

2. What is the difference between guilt and shame?

Although they are frequently felt together, guilt and shame are two separate emotions. These are their differences:

When you think you’ve done something wrong or gone against a social or personal norm, you may feel guilty. When someone feels guilty, they tend to want to put things right. This happens because guilt is centred on the behaviour or action that caused the hurt. For instance, if you feel bad about cheating on a test, it may inspire you to put more effort into your studies to prevent repeating the mistake.

Shame, on the other hand, is the emotion that develops when you think you are a bad person or inherently inadequate. Shame is centred on the individual and the idea that you have fundamentally failed. It frequently comes with feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, or hopelessness. For instance, if you fail a test and feel guilty, you can think you’re a bad student.

3. Can individuals feel both shame and guilt?

Indeed, people can experience both shame and guilt, and these feelings frequently coexist in people. When someone cheats on their partner, for instance, they could feel horrible about the specific behaviour of cheating. The may also feel bad about the idea that they are a bad person or partner.

Both guilt and shame can have different repercussions on behaviour and wellbeing. It’s critical to understand the difference between these two feelings. Shame can result in emotions of worthlessness and depression, whereas guilt can inspire people to make amends or change their behaviour. It can occasionally cause people to avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour because they believe they are undeserving to make significant changes.

Individuals can work towards accepting responsibility for their acts without compromising their self-esteem by determining whether feelings of shame or guilt are present and addressing them independently. In this way, they can overcome negative moods too.

Enroll in our course: How to handle and change negative moods

4. How do I get rid of pain and handling guilt?

Suffering from pain, guilt, or humiliation might be difficult. But there are a number of things you can do to help. The following tactics could be useful:

  • Find the cause of the suffering, guilt, or shame: You can deal with these emotions more effectively if you know what is motivating them. Spend some time considering your thoughts and emotions while attempting to identify the underlying reason for your discomfort.
  • Get support: One of the most effective ways to deal with difficult emotions is to talk to a trusted friend or family member, a therapist, or a support group. They can lend you a sympathetic ear, offer insight, and offer advice.
  • Take action: If you can do something to address the cause of your suffering, guilt, or humiliation, do it. You’ll feel more in control and your emotions will be less intense as a result.

Actionable steps and tips to overcome each type of guilt

1. Coping with Adaptive Guilt: Handling Guilt

Adaptive guilt can serve as a positive catalyst for development and transformation. These are some concrete things to take in order to deal with adaptive guilt:

a) Admit your mistakes and accept accountability for your actions: Admit your mistakes and accept accountability for your behaviour. This will make it easier for you to comprehend what you must do to make amends and proceed.

b) Express regret and take measures to remedy the wrong: Express regret to people who were harmed by your actions. This might entail making amends or taking action to avoid making the same mistakes again.

c) Take responsibility for your actions and evolve from your mistakes: Consider what you can do differently the next time, and resolve to change for the better.

Working to deal with adaptive guilt has the following effects:

Dealing with adaptive guilt can make us better versions of ourselves. It may result in better communication, greater self-awareness, and a stronger feeling of accountability.

2. Coping with Maladaptive Guilt: Handling guilt

It can be detrimental to our mental and emotional health to experience maladaptive guilt. Here are some concrete steps to overcome maladaptive guilt:

a) Challenge self-defeating thoughts: Become aware of your negative self-talk and dispute it. Ask yourself if such beliefs are accurate and if there is any supporting information.

Read Blog: Overcoming Negative Thoughts: Proven Strategies to Decrease Their Power

b) Exercise self-compassion: Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Keep in mind that mistakes are normal and that nobody is flawless.

Read Blog: How to develop self compassion?

c) Get expert assistance: If you are having trouble managing your maladaptive guilt, you might want to talk to a mental health specialist. They can assist you in creating coping mechanisms and in resolving any underlying problems that might be causing your guilt.

Outcomes of attempting to deal with maladaptive guilt include increased self-worth, less anxiety and depressive symptoms, and a higher sense of acceptance of oneself.

3. Coping with Existential Guilt: Handling guilt

Existential guilt can feel overwhelming and all-consuming, making it a difficult sensation to manage. Here are some practical suggestions for overcoming existential guilt:

a) Engage in self-reflection: Give yourself some time to consider your principles and views. Look for any ideas or convictions that might be causing you to feel guilty.

b) Get assistance: Discuss your feelings with a reliable friend or a mental health professional. They can assist you in developing coping mechanisms and in processing your feelings.

c) Exercise self-care: Look after your physical and emotional needs. Take part in enjoyable activities that will relax you.

Outcomes of attempting to deal with existential guilt include enhanced self-awareness, acceptance of oneself, and a deeper understanding of what it is to be human.


Although dealing with guilt can be difficult, doing so is a necessary step on the road to rehabilitation and personal development. We can learn from our mistakes, develop greater self-awareness, and live happier, more meaningful lives by taking practical methods to deal with adaptive, maladaptive, and existential guilt.

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