We all understand what it means to feel guilty. 

When we do something to step out of our boundaries, or something selfish or hurtful to others, guilt arises in an attempt to get us to fess up and resolve the issue. If we don’t, our conscience will eat away at us. 

This built-in alarm is designed to keep us on track with what is right and wrong. 

In Complex Trauma, we can develop a poorly trained conscience that makes us feel a false guilt. 

False guilt is when we are made to feel guilty or responsible when we have done nothing wrong. 

There are five causes where false guilt occurs;

1. Parents blame us for their emotional state, addiction or we are used as a reason or excuse not to have our needs met. 

• “You are the reason mom/dad are unhappy.” “It’s your fault that I …” 

2. We take responsibility to fill the unmet needs of our parents or siblings.

• Unable to protect mom or siblings from abuse, addiction, etc. 

3. Unrealistic expectations of ourselves. 

• Not being perfect, not reading our parents’ minds, we must be bad to be neglected or abused. 

4. Guilt is our default setting.

• Find something wrong in everything we do, overanalyze or are often hard on ourselves. 

5. Unhealthy institutions such as some churches or support groups.

• Made to feel guilty for grey-area or debatable things such as tattoos, piercings, hair length or incorrect standard of spirituality. If we challenge or disagree with the authority or leaders, we are made to feel we are bad. 

What is behind false guilt? 

When parents or authority figures don’t want to take responsibility for their actions, they distort their reality and point the finger at others. They transfer this away from themselves and make us believe it is all our fault. 

While this blog is just the tip of the iceberg to a deeper topic, it is designed to raise awareness. 

The next time we are made to feel guilty for something we didn’t do, question the issue. Sort out the situation to find the truth. Whose responsibility is it? If we are not responsible, put it in perspective and lay the blame where it rightfully belongs. 

We are only responsible for ourselves and our actions. That is a tall-enough order without taking on other peoples’ emotions and shortcomings. To learn more, follow the links and join us in our LIFT Online Learning program