Guilt: What is guilt, What causes guilt and How to overcome guilt

Introduction, what is guilt

The English dictionary defines guilt as the remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offence. Guilt is one feeling that gripped me for a very long period of my life. It was so strong that I was literally unable to do stuff on certain days. I felt like crap every single day because of some stuff I did. I couldn’t even think straight because each time I tried to think, the guilt will grip me and sometimes it will completely paralyze me. At some point, I was tired of this feeling and sought out to find ways to deal with it.

 I read several articles, did so many things which I thought will help me get rid of the feeling of guilt I felt yet it wasn’t going. I remembered that I even fasted and prayed to God on several occasions that these feeling should leave me yet it went nowhere.  Finally, some time last year I got a breakthrough and finally killed the feeling of guilt. Through the help of God, I can say I am guilt free. In this article we take a deeper look into the subject of guilt and my wish is that by the end you have the tools need to beat guilt out of your life.

5 Main Causes of guilt

Guilt can be caused by several different things. Based on my experience in this area, I have come to discover that the intensity which it affects us varies from person to person. What kills me might not even have an effect on you. That’s why the following points I will list below may not be a cause of guilt for you but for some other person, it is what chokes the life out of them. It is worth noting that each time you feel guilty about stuff, it affects the proper functioning of your brain. Let’s look at these causes and tell me which resonates with you in the comment section below.

  1. Guilt caused by something you did

This is the most common cause of guilt in our society today. This mostly comes up when you plan to do something and end up not doing it. When you are reminded of it and the memory comes to mind, there is this automatic sense of guilt that falls on you. Also, when you inflict pain on someone to be emotionally or psychologically, there is a high tendency for you to feel guilty. Most times when we break our own moral code by something we did, guilt is the end result. It paralyses us and makes it impossible for you to do what you will normally do.

Some people feel guilty when they find themselves doing things that they have sworn to themselves that they are not going to do. For example, you might have told yourself that you are not going to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, get involved in drug abuse or steal and you find yourself doing it. When this happens, the end result is that you will have a huge sense of guilt. This guilt you are feeling now is caused by the action that you did.

2. Guilt caused by something you didn’t do which was something you wanted to do

This is the second cause of gilt. This is a cause of guilt which is also very common around us now a days. This is common among people who talk more and do less. They make promises, plan to do stuff and at the end don’t do it. When confronted about what they said, there is a high tendency for them to feel guilty.  Also, you might have fallen into a mistake due to one or more things which you didn’t do which you could do and when you think of the consequences that the mistake brought, guilt grips you.

For example, a student who knows that he is supposed to read and prepare for exams doesn’t read and makes no preparation for the exams. When he fails, he begins to beat himself due to that error. Notice that it was something he could do but he ended up not doing it. You discover that this type of guilt is strong to deal with because it actually is something which you could do to prevent the mishap.

3. Guilt caused by something you think you did

This form of guilt is a slow killer. It sinks deep into your soul and hunts you throughout the day. Every single minute you have to yourself calls for a sense of guilt and self-blame because of the memories that will be running through your head. This kind of guilt is cause by thoughts of something you think you did. For example, you might have spoken rudely to your husband and he goes on to have an accident during the day.

Due to the fact that you spoke rudely to your husband before he left home, you blame yourself for being the cause of his accident. What this does is that you feel guilty whenever you think of the pain he is going through. You begin to blame yourself because if you didn’t speak that way to him, he wouldn’t have had the accident. Actually, you aren’t even the cause of his accident.

4. Guilt caused by the feeling that you didn’t do enough to help someone

This is another common cause of guilt. When you are in a position to help someone or a group of people and you don’t do it, there is a high tendency that guilt might set in. You soon start feeling guilty about the fact that you could help but didn’t actually help. The result will be that you start blaming and beating up yourself. The more you process these actions, the more guilt you feel because you think you could do more. For instance, when a mother gives birth to a child, she has the duty to take care of that child. Just imagine that the child grows to become wayward. She will have this sense of guilt that fills her heart because she thinks that she didn’t help that child enough. This is a painful place to be in.

5. Guilt caused by the feeling that you’re doing better than someone

This is a cause of guilt which is not very common but it exists. There are people who feel guilty because they perform better than others. I know you may be wondering how this brings about guilt but it does to those who find themselves here. Take for instance a child who gets all the attention if his parents because he is smart humble and nice. There is a high possibility that this child will soon start feeling guilty among his siblings. This is because they wont love to interact with him freely due to the fact that he wins the favor of his parents. The other siblings soon start seeing him as the most loved kid and this will bring about hatred in the long run.

5 Harmful effects of guilt on us?

We have seen from the causes of guilt above that guilt can have harmful effects on us. We can attest to the fact that guilt will have several different harmful effects on us, our relationship with others and our productivity as a whole. We will see shortly that guilt puts you in a place where you find it hard to relate with yourself and with others. In this section, we will be looking at some very harmful effects of guilt on us.

  1. Guilt affects you physically

It is no doubt to know that guilt will affect your physical look when it creeps into your mind. I personally attest to this because in those years where I blamed myself for every single bad thing I did, I had nothing which was worthwhile about my looks. All I did was to frown and keep a long face. Most times I didn’t even notice that I was among people as such many people knew me as the “always angry guy” because I was always frowning.

Your own expression may not be clearly visible to you due to some blind spots but guilt affects your physical looks. Have you been told by others that you look weird or less happy recently, check deeply because the guilt you’re feeling may be leaking out into your physical look and it’s not healthy anymore.

2.  Guilt impedes success

Success is the outcome of a right mind, sound emotional state and a good physical look. When you have a constant sense of guilt, you discover that you are grounded emotionally. Guilt makes you aware of just the bad things you did. What this does is that it makes your vision blur and your perception of the future becomes very limited. You discover that your thoughts don’t fuel success anymore. Guilt puts you in the place where you only blame yourself for what isn’t working in your life. It’s true that you are guilty but it’s not enough reason for you not to succeed in life

3. Guilt makes you punish yourself

One other major consequence of guilt is that it makes you to punish yourself. Most times, this is used as a route for freedom. You soon feel like when you punish yourself for what you did, it will bring solace. Hear the truth now. Punishing yourself doesn’t bring healing nor freedom, it worsens the pain you are already feeling.

I have seen a case where a young lady drinks alcohol to the excess and hurts her body just in a bit to be free from the pain of guilt she was feeling due to an abortion. What this does is that you only hurt your body the more. You might not punish yourself only physically, there is also emotional torture. When you deprive yourself of some of your emotional needs, you are punishing yourself and it’s not fun. It’s hurting and degrading to the state of your life.

4. Guilt changes your personality

One major harmful effect of guilt is that it changes your personality. There are some circumstances where it even changes your personality for good. There is a high possibility for a once noisy and jovial person to become a quiet and introverted person because he is gripped by guilt. For example, when I was hooked up to this habit of lies telling and backbiting, I was full of guilt and the consequence was that I became so quiet. I was ashamed of myself and that took away all my confidence. Many people thought I was a quiet person until they figure out that wasn’t quiet when I had successfully dealt with the guilt.

5. Guilt ruins your life

Thelong run effect of guilt on you is that it cripples your whole life. When the effect caused by guilt on you compounds over time, it completely paralyses you. Guilt has such a powerful effect on some people that they end up committing suicide. They see no value in their life again because the guilt they feel has blurred every other area of their life.

How can one overcome guilt?

We have seen from above that several different things can cause the feeling of guilt. We have also seen that guilt has some negative effects.

We saw that some the negative effects of guilt could paralyze your life as a whole. In this section, we will look at how we can overcome the nasty feeling of guilt. I will share some tips that have worked for me and those that I have been able to counsel. My desire is that by the end of this section you have all what it takes to disarm guilt for good.

  1. Change your guilt into gratitude

I can say beyond any doubt that guilt can go a long way to shape your thought pattern. The feeling of guilt can make you always think guilt and live a guilty life. I also believe that if you change the nature of your thoughts, you directly influence the nature of your life. One of the main ways you can use to overcome the feeling of guilt is that you should change the thought of guilt to thoughts of gratitude. There is a reason for every single thing in life. Sometimes we don’t see it because we are overwhelmed by the emotions in question.

If we can quiet our mind and thank God for the lessons learnt, thank yourself for being strong and start living a life of gratitude, you will discover that you will have an amazing life. You will even have a very vital tool for overcoming the guilt at the end. Have you been wondering how you can overcome that feeling of guilt ravaging you, shift your mindset from the pain you felt and focus on the lessons learnt and I assure you guilt will be on its way out of your life?

2. Learn to Forgive yourself

We started this article by saying that guilt is a feeling caused by an offence. If you could learn to forgive your self for the offences you commit be it your self or to others, you will be on a way out of the grip of guilt. We are humans and are always liable to mistakes as such if you learn how to forgive yourself immediately you commit an offence then you will be buying yourself some freedom from guilt

3. Learn from the mistake made and move on

There is a quote that says that it is only a dog that returns to its vomit. I guess if you have a dog, you will confirm with me that this is true. When you committed an action which brought about guilt in your life, learn from the pain you felt in that season and move on. If you still do it mistakenly forgive yourself and keep trying. When you finally learn the lesson ensure you stay clear and don’t repeat it again.  This looks simple but I assure you that it is a very effective way to overcome guilt

4. Do an act of kindness

This is a tip which will be very helpful for those who feel guilty for something they didn’t go which they ought to do. When you start feeling this pain of guilt, reach out and do it. It is blessed to give than to receive. Most times when you give, you feel better than the person who receives. When you feel the pain of guilt, if you can offer an act of service or a gift, or even an act of retribution you will feel better and you will be a step further on your path and finally you will overcome guilt.

5. Seek the help of a therapist

Seeking the help of a therapist or counsellor will go a long way to help you out of the pain. They have been trained and will have the necessary tools to get you to walk past that feeling of guilt.

6. Run to God and ask for mercy

Most often when people feel guilty about stuff, they run away from God thinking that he is going to punish them for the wrong they did. They fail to understand that when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive. God is full of love and has a compassionate heart and if you confess your sins, tell him how what you did made you feel, tell him you want to be free and he is going to hear your cry for help. God promised us that when we call unto him, he will answer so friend if you feel guilty, ask for mercy and he will pardon you.

What are the Benefits of living guilt free?

Now let us look at some benefits of living guilt free. Let us look at some ways your life become better when you finally living free from guilt.

  1. Your life becomes more focused

When you break free from the guilt you have a more focused life because the weight of guilt is off. You now have a means of expressing your truest identity as a son or a daughter

2. You become more productive

Due to the fact that there is more focus in your life, you can be more productive in your job and whatever you do. You even can help others with your story of how you beat the guilt

3. You form stronger relationships

When the grip of guilt is off your relationship with friends or spouse you discover that the relationship becomes stronger and healthier. You understand the need of others and make them a priority

4. You live a healthier life

Guilt feeds on your health and makes you to always be looking cranky and broken. When you finally break free from that grip, you become better. It is worth knowing that this is the key to living as a truly authentic person


I believe this article has given you all what it takes to be free from guilt. I will love to hear how these tips have imparted your life. I will love to know the difference that it has made on your relationships and on your health. If you found it helpful please share it with others.


  1. Mbuh Divine Cho

    Wow, thanks though i just glanced through it. This written brings thoughts to mind.

    True true guilt can keep you down like an armed man. Guilt has no friend.
    Guilt is so cruel so much so that just by thinking of those days hurts.


    I was once guilty of something I thought I would have done to make someone succeed. Back in high school, I had 3main reading partners. We use to prepare for the GCE Advanced level. When the results of the exam were out.
    I was the only one amongst us who succeeded. I was unhappy, I blamed my self, I thought I was selfish to them and didn’t do my best to help them succeed as well. In short I was guilty. How I overcame this was by doing exactly what the author suggested. I gave them all the resources I had and started following them up. This act of service helped me slot and I began to feel less guilty.
    So I just one to say that guilt is real and it’s not a good place to be in. Trust me
    suffered fro

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