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Protecting Your Family from Unresolved Guilt


Protecting Your Family from Unresolved Guilt


Many people believe that guilt is good because it can help them do the right things in life. Taken in that light, it can indeed protect valued relationships from potential conflicts. However, it is important to note that excessive and constant guilt can also be counterproductive. Numerous studies show that it can impact your life in a bad way. If it persists, it can also hurt the people around you, especially your family.

Thus, doing something about your unresolved guilt is constructive. According to Denise W. Anderson of Family Share, if your family is “having difficulty with fault finding, blame, criticism, and ridicule, unresolved guilt could be the culprit.” You or another family member can work on your guilt with professional help to get past the feeling for the benefit of yourself and your family.


The Guilt You Want Resolved

A Psychology Today post by Guy Winch, PhD, mentioned that unresolved guilt can impact your thinking, behavior, relationships, and life in general. He says, “Unresolved guilt is like having a snooze alarm in your head that won’t shut off.” It can steal your focus, making it difficult to think straight or enjoy life. It can make you self-punish when it comes between you and the person/family whom you believe you have wronged. It can breed other feelings you don’t like—resentment, bitterness, loneliness, etc. It can also impact your physical and emotional health.

Experts believe that excessive and unresolved guilt can increase your vulnerability to emotional conditions such as depression. In an attempt to repress your guilt, you may choose to isolate yourself and avoid your family. You may also release your guilt in unhealthy ways—anger, punishing yourself, etc. These behaviors do not address the real issue of the unresolved guilt, and as you punish yourself, you also hurt and punish your loved ones.


Understanding That Nagging Feeling Called Guilt  

Guilt is an emotional distress response or “red flag” that you are likely to feel when you believe you have wronged someone. Good Therapy says it “plays a major role in moral behavior and can encourage people to follow ethical codes and social norms.” It is a feeling that is uniquely human, because you have a conscience. As such, it can help you be accountable for your wrongdoings and develop a greater understanding of other people.

While guilt is a normal response, it should not be a constant feeling. Living with unresolved guilt can be extremely difficult, not only for you, but also for your family. The feeling can “nag” you, particularly when it violates your basic beliefs and life norms. The article “How to Protect Your Family from Your Own Guilty Conscience” featured in Anderson’s post says, “The guilt response brings discomfort for a purpose. Changing actions for the right makes the discomfort go away.”

When the feeling is connected with disgrace, embarrassment, or ridicule, it can linger even after you do something to make amends or right the wrong. This is a malfunction in the guilt mechanism.


Living with Lingering, Unresolved Guilt

Unresolved guilt can hinder your relationships as it gets more complicated, and can trigger more bad responses and life events. Untreated, it can snowball over time as more interactions and experiences lead to more guilt, encumbering your personal growth and your interactions with your family. Resolving this kind of guilt is, therefore, crucial. Know, however, that it may not just miraculously vanish on its own without help.

There are ways to help yourself address your nagging feelings of lingering guilt, such as apologizing and asking forgiveness, making amends, etc. None of these, however, is easy, particularly when you are overcome by intense emotions of anxiety or depression. Rather than being caught up in feelings of isolation, loneliness, and culpability, stand up to your guilt by seeking counseling.


Counseling: The Realistic Escape Route from Guilt

A conscience is a moral compass that can help you lead an upright life, following your personal norms and standards and those that are socially sanctioned. There is nothing wrong there. If, however, you are feeling excessive and irrational guilt that becomes persistent and harsh, you have to act to address it before it becomes exceedingly punitive for you and your family. Counseling from a professional licensed therapist, independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services — Sanford, NC, is a realistic and constructive way to escape unresolved guilt.

Do it for yourself, because you deserve to enjoy your life and your relationships. Do it for your family, as they will also benefit from your courageous and proactive action. If you have been struggling with unresolved guilt, you may think that having a wonderful, guilt-free life is impossible. It isn’t. Seeking help from a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services — Sanford, NC, is a realistic solution to improve your life and to solve problems with lingering guilt.


Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Sanford, NC

Counties: Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Moore County, NC

Areas: Sanford NC, Tramway, NC, Olivia, NC, Broadway, NC, Cumnock, NC, Gulf, NC, Goldston, NC, Carbonton NC, Glendon, NC, Carthage, NC, Cameron, NC, Lillington, NC, Moncure, NC

Zip Codes: 27330, 27332, 28327, 27505, 27546

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
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Fetima Wellington, MS, LPC, LCAS-A

Specializes in: (Ages 6+) Children, Adolescents/Teens, Individuals, Couples, Family Therapy and Marriage Counseling. Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Addiction and Recovery, Relationship Issues, Post Partum Depression, Family Conflict, Crisis Intervention, ODD, Conduct Disorder, LGBTQ
 Insurance: BCBS,  Cash, HSA and FSA (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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Carolina Counseling Services - Sanford, NC
304 N Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330