Blog What Is Guilt And How Does It Affect Us?

What Is Guilt And How Does It Affect Us?


   Do you often think about the things you should have done, could have done, and would have done if it weren’t for the fill-in-the-blank reason? Do you routinely feel shame for things you have done or have failed to do? Is it your habit to worry about the quality or quantity of the service you provide to others? If so, you may understand what guilt is and how it affects us better than others.      
   Whether you are aware of your guilt-based feelings or you have been operating under guilt and condemnation completely unaware of its impact - it’s time to let go of the guilt and find new and better ways to operate. 

There are two ways that guilt manifests in our lives: 

  • Using It
  • Feeling It 

   Using guilt is a maladaptive way to express your needs or manipulate others. Using guilt as a tool or a weapon causes others to operate out of fear, anxiety, or threat of losing favor. Those who support you when you use guilt to coerce them are not being treated fairly or supporting you from a place of love. They are likely doing what you want to avoid a negative consequence. This isn’t anything to be proud of. This is manipulation. 

   If you are fully aware that you are using guilt to get others to do what you want or behave how you want, it’s time to stop. If you weren’t fully aware, but have an inkling this could be you, let’s take a look at better ways to engage others:

  • Be honest- If you legitimately need help or support, be honest. Sharing your needs from practical to theoretical isn’t hard. Be open and honest with others without using guilt to get their buy in. 
  • Be helpful- People love to reciprocate. If you are as eager to help others as you are to ask for help, you won’t need to use guilt as a motivator. 
  • Be consistent- People prefer to engage with others when they can predict their behavior. Be honest, helpful, and consistent in your relationships and you won’t need guilt as a tool to manipulate others. 

  Feeling guilt is a heavy burden. Walking through life with the weight of the world on your shoulders is no way to live. Feeling guilty causes people to operate out of shame or undue obligation. Guilt-based actions are not always genuine and deplete people of their confidence and right standing. If you are operating under the weight of guilt, you may not be doing things because you want to. You may also be suffering needlessly, and resolution may be the only thing standing in your way.
   If you recognize that you are operating out of guilt in your relationships, it is time to seek resolution and restore your confidence. Set new boundaries and refuse to let guilt be the deciding factor in how you manage yourself.

Let’s take a look at how you can rid yourself of guilt and refuse to let it rule your choices. 

  • Seek forgiveness- Whether you did something regrettable or are operating out of a guilt-based fear such as your child suffers because you sought a divorce, it is time to seek forgiveness. Amends may be needed from someone else or from yourself. 
  • Be Honest- Being honest about your fears, guilty feelings, or worries is the best way to avoid operating out of guilt. Being honest allows for the process of healing and restoration to co-exist with something that isn’t ideal and avoid a guilt-based lifestyle. 
  • Seek help- Sometimes guilt has worn grooves into your psyche and you need outside help to reconcile things in your mind. Seeing a counselor, coach, or wise counsel will help you work through your guilt and restore your mind. 

   Guilt is a paper tiger. It is designed to feel ominous and distract you from what is right and important. The sooner you get guilt out of your life, the faster you will enjoy the simple and delightful peace that comes from a guilt-free life. Want to take it further? Click here for your copy of Ditch the Guilt.

Your Partner In Spiritual Health,


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Hello Friends!

Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here. 

I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life. 

I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.

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