Can you feel guilty about being yourself?

Which people are particularly susceptible to feelings of guilt?

All healthy people are born with the ability to develop guilty feelings. On the one hand, there are very few people who have never felt guilty before.

They are people who have not developed norms of good and bad, or those who refuse to judge themselves for an error in their entire person.

On the other hand, there are also people who struggle with feelings of guilt on a daily basis. It seems like these people are actually taking the blame on themselves. You feel guilty for anything and everything, wake up in the morning feeling guilty.

Their personality is characterized by the following characteristics:

1. Strive for perfectionism

They have unrealistically high expectations of themselves. They expect themselves to always do the right thing and always and everywhere to live up to their high moral standards. You expect yourself never to harm or hurt anyone.

Even with the smallest mistake, they judge themselves. There is an all-or-nothing thinking in their head: either I'm doing everything right or I'm doing everything wrong. You find it difficult to risk new things and make decisions for fear of getting it wrong.

2. Self-doubt and feelings of inferiority

They see themselves as inferior, think they are fundamentally bad. You see the reactions of the environment through these glasses. A laugh is interpreted as laughing at, criticism as a devastating condemnation.

They put their own needs aside because it is more important to them that others are well. You deny yourself the right to announce your own wishes or to reject unjustified claims. They are afraid that others will recognize their "badness".

3. High sensitivity and the assumption of responsibility for the problems and sufferings of others

They are trained to recognize formulated and unspoken wishes and demands of others. To a large extent, they feel like "saviors of mankind" and martyrs, without whose help others perish or collapse under their problems.

They tend to feel responsible for anything and everything. They overestimate their own responsibility and underestimate the influence of other independent factors.

4. The attitude to be able to control the feelings of others through their behavior

You believe you are 100% responsible for the feelings of others. They believe they can offend or hurt another person and drive them into drug addiction or death.

When others feel bad, they believe they caused them to feel uncomfortable and judge themselves for it.

Are women more likely to feel guilty?

In my practice, I experience that far more women plague themselves with feelings of guilt than men.

Women torment themselves with feelings of guilt when their husband is sexually unsatisfied, when they refuse the children a wish, go to work part-time and leave the children with the nanny, take a cleaning lady, bring the mother into the home, not visit the parents often enough , her husband cheats, the family does not like the food, etc. What can be the reason?

So far we agreed that feelings of guilt are a result of our judgments for doing something wrong and the self-judgment that followed.

Feelings of guilt arise from a contradiction between the rules imposed and accepted by us and our behavior.

Are there different educational principles and rules for men and women? Are there rules that make girls / women susceptible to feelings of guilt?

These questions can be answered with yes. Let's take a closer look at the upbringing and upbringing ideals for women:

Which attitudes towards themselves and others do women very often get conveyed through their upbringing?

- In many cultures women are seen as inferior. Yes, people in India and China still go so far as to kill female babies today. In our society, too, a new father of a regular owner is usually more important than that of a daughter. "It's just a girl," is how the daughter's birth is commented.

Little girls can unconsciously feel this devaluation and feel guilty for not being a boy. Even as adult women, they feel the influence of this devaluation.

Women are paid less than men in many occupational areas for the same work and are less likely to be found in the upper levels of management.

Women are only allowed to participate in the church hierarchy at the lower levels, and in politics and research they are also rarely allowed to occupy management positions.

By the time they reach adulthood, most girls have developed so many self-doubts and feelings of inferiority that they keep looking for external confirmation and are dependent on it.

The effect on feelings of guilt is twofold: On the one hand, low self-esteem increases the willingness to feel guilty for anything and everything.

Women justify their behavior with many explanations and apologies. On the other hand, violating society's expectations, for example through professional success, leads to feelings of guilt.

- Girls learn through religious instruction that sin in the form of Eve is feminine. A woman's faulty behavior has ruined humanity and driven it out of Paradise. Because of the women, Jesus sacrificed himself - we can read it in the Bible like this.

The Christian teachings also increase the willingness of women to feel guilty - even if they cannot help at all about Eva's behavior (and it is in any case not clear to what extent the reports in the Bible correspond to the facts).

- Little girls learn from fairy tales that they are weak and have to wait for the Prince Charming or Savior.

- Little girls experience on their mother's model that she feels guilty if something goes wrong in the family. Her father reproaches her when the children get bad grades, when the household budget is insufficient, the children are sick or cheeky, the neighbor complains, his favorite shirt has not yet been ironed.

- Girls are raised to feel responsible for harmony and the satisfaction of the environment. It is important to them very early on to create closeness to others and to convey the feeling of being understood to others.

You value togetherness and good contact. They are expected to seek help, help others, and distribute praise. They are expected to be empathetic and read the wishes of others on their faces.

Boys, on the other hand, learn to assert themselves and gain power. Value is placed on performance, independence and independence.

- Girls are raised to be good and conformist. Expressing anger and willingness to conflict are not encouraged or even prohibited.

- Girls are raised to be humble, not to be the center of attention or to praise their own achievements.

- Girls are raised to be perfectionist and have to do everything right, otherwise they will be rejected.

- Girls are raised to have no desire or pleasure in sex. It is difficult for them to perceive their own sexual preferences and then to address them.

- Girls are raised to sacrifice themselves and to play martyrs. They are praised for helping others and putting aside their own needs.

- Girls are brought up to feel responsible for the household, family and children. Nowadays there is also the expectation of having a job.

- The media still convey to women a concept of life in which a partnership is the fulfillment of meaning.

While single men are recognized by society and the focus is on professional performance, single women are considered "old maids who haven't gotten any".

>>> read on in the guidebook feelings of guilt

Further reading samples:


Chapter 1 The Causes of Guilt

Chapter 3 Are Guilty Feelings Justified?

Chapter 11 Feelings of Guilt and Sexuality