“It is the confession not the priest that gives us absolution”- When Oscar Wilde said these words, he was referring to one of the greatest problems of the human psyche- guilt! When a deadline has not been made, a promise is not been fulfilled, a responsibility has been evaded, when an individual has caved in to the path of least troubles, when the mind is constantly boggled by the question of “what could’ve been the outcome, if only the right action had taken place”; then my friend! You’re clearly on what we call as a “guilt-ride”.
Often, whenever we go away from the track, either our superiors or family members or even friends are there to point where exactly are we wrong and why. But that may not happen always. People may not even be aware of your actions. This is where the human conscious comes into play, which keeps nagging you about your role in the situation. Guilt is actually, the anger directed at our own self. It is worse than any other form of accusation because you may ignore what others think about you but you cannot ignore that little voice in your own head which tells why you are wrong.
Guilt has different effects on different people. Some people tend to overwork while others may get oversensitive or completely immobilized. It may influence your decision making and you may constantly be bugged by the need to “be right” every time. Things go out of hand if the burden of this guilt becomes too heavy for the person and he takes resort into things like drugs/alcohol. In extreme cases, he/she may even commit suicide.
But is guilt always truly because of one’s own action? Not really. Many a times, the circumstance could have been such that you were forced to behave the way you did. E.g. you were unable to pick your child from school due to genuine lack of time, and had to send someone else. In such a case, its important to understand that things may not go according to the plan always, and hence, forgive yourself for such occasional mishaps. Most importantly, do not derive ulterior and unnecessary implications (e.g. for the aforementioned example, concluding you are not a good parent if you made bloopers occasionally). Also, at times, your guilt may be the result of someone’s manipulation to get things done from you.
Therefore, it’s very important to analyze the case- whose fault was it and what its enormity was. In case someone else is really responsible, make that person aware of it and ensure some action is taken by him. If its you who’s responsible, check whether things can be put back to normal or at least the harm is mitigated; and take appropriate action. If not, take the incident as a learning experience and move on. Remember: the mantra to live a happy, guilt-free life is doing the right things and forgiving oneself for things not under control.