Healthy vs. Toxic Guilt

Healthy vs. Toxic Guilt

Guilt is feeling bad that something happened to someone. There can be guilt that is rational such as hurting someone’s feelings and seeing that person cry and there is irrational guilt where you can feel bad for someone else feeling bad about something that was not your fault. It is important to get rid of your unhealthy guilt to prevent these thoughts from keeping you up at night and to learn that you cannot control the uncontrollable.

Healthy guilt occurs when you have done something wrong like when you cause harm to someone on purpose. This is when you conscience is the most active where you hear a little voice inside your head that tells you when you have done something wrong and will not stop until you do something to rectify the situation. This kind of guilt is good for taking responsibilities for your actions and to be held accountable for them, making you take a positive action to make things better.

Toxic guilt, on the other hand, results in a waste of energy. This is when you are telling yourself that you have done something wrong when you have not done anything wrong. It is when you do something for yourself without any intent of hurting others, but the person you have hurt by accident blames their pain on you. For example, your mother can be upset with you for wanting to be a singer instead of a doctor like she hoped for you. Your mother expresses her disappointed towards you and you feel guilty for not wanting what she wants. You feel responsible because you want to control how others feel about you. Toxic guilt can also be when you suffer survivor’s guilt for surviving a catastrophic event when you know others have died.

In order to get rid of this toxic guilt, you have to remember that you are not responsible for the reactions of your loved ones for doing something for yourself. Sometimes, you need to do things for yourself that makes you happy instead of trying to satisfy everyone. As for survivor’s guilt, you may feel guilty for being alive and are constantly questioning why, but it is important to remember that some things are beyond your control and that you cannot think about what would have been. You can keep in mind the ones who died while also feeling gratitude for being alive.


Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies for mental illnesses. For more information, please call 041-986-5080. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-986-5080.

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