HoG Handbook

Understanding Guilt


Guilt is a feeling that seems to come up often in people dealing with hemophilia and other serious bleeding disorders. Parents may feel guilty for being a carrier. A sibling may feel guilty about causing bleeding or bruising. The person with the bleeding disorder may feel guilty about causing problems for their family. Guilt is a very powerful feeling that everyone has at some time. If you carry a large load of guilt, it can crush you. That is why we all need to work through it.

We learn to feel guilty when we are children. As we are growing up, we all learn certain values. Guilt is a reminder to us to act according to those values. Guilt tells us when we have done wrong. However, many of us feel guilty about things that are out of our control. 

If you feel guilty about something you have done, reflect on what you did. Was your action really wrong? Was it something you were taught was wrong as a child, but you don't think is wrong now? If you have really done something wrong or hurtful, admit it to yourself and accept it. Remind yourself that you are not a perfect person. Apologize to anyone you harmed. Do what you can to make everything right. Resolve to try not to do the same thing again. Then put it behind you.

Sometimes when we feel guilt, the guilt is really just hiding another feeling. By getting in touch with that other feeling, you can get rid of your guilt. Guilt might really be anger or resentment that you feel you can't let out. The anger may be toward yourself or someone else. If you can get in touch with the anger you have buried, you are on your way to dealing with the real emotion. Once you admit the anger, you can find ways to let go of it. 

People hold on to guilt for many reasons. Some people use guilt to punish themselves. Some use guilt to keep from seeing what is really going on and the part they play in it. Some use guilt to keep from getting close to others or to avoid success. For whatever reason, keeping guilt on your shoulders doesn't let you get on with life. If guilt is weighing you down, think about what you are getting out of the guilt or what emotion your guilt may be hiding.