There was a time when I lived by should have known, I would have done, I am sorry, and I could have. It was a life of the should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve. It was so exhausting. I felt so judged by others, not recognizing that I was my biggest judger. I blamed myself for so many things and felt terrible most times. It was not an easy road to realize the excessive guilt known as “False Guilt.”
Recently, I permitted myself not to share something with a friend. I am a person that shares, and at times shared too much, or I shared with the wrong people. On this day, we spoke, and something came up in the conversation that aligned with what I had not shared. I heard myself preference what I was about to say with “Hey, I am not sure if I told you but.” I knew that I had not told her because I had made a conscious decision not to mention it. However, the false guilt spoke, telling me that I “should’ve” told her. Why?
Hmm, I wondered how long the false guilt been playing in my head again? Well, it did not completely stop because anything we struggle with in the past will continue to rear its ugly head. I felt guilty for not sharing what was going on in my life as if I was obligated. If I want to be authentic and help others do the same, it is imperative to stay in tune with my triggers.
What is false guilt? Here is a definition from an article in “Psychology Today.
“FALSE GUILT is a learned response. It’s triggered by something external to us — an outside demand we could not or did not meet. False Guilt is unreasonable (you can’t reason with it), inappropriate (the guilt is applied incorrectly), and unhealthy (we make ourselves feel terrible). Essentially false guilt is about BLAMING OURSELVES. And when we feel this unreasonable or false guilt, making amends does not resolve our guilty feelings. We get stuck in a cycle of self-judgment, suffering pointless and often debilitating emotional pain.
False guilt can come from trauma, abuse, and of course, it can happen in other ways. It’s not easy to identify false guilt, but we can when we understand guilt. What is guilt?
Guilt is a normal emotion. A google definition of guilt is “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.” Another way of seeing it, “It is internal, and it alerts us of when we have done something that is not being true to who we are.” When we are not true to ourselves and offend others, we need to make amends, apologize, or rectify the situation.
Call to Action
Learn more about yourself by getting in tune with saying or doing something that makes you question your authenticity.