In the not so distant past the main mode of transportation for worldwide packages and goods was by ship. If, for some reason, you wanted to send a package to the Far East you would rush down to the shipyards to find a vessel headed in that direction. And if you just happened to show up a few hours after the only boat headed that way left you were out of luck for a month, perhaps two. The clerk would inform you “that ship has sailed” much to your chagrin. At this point a person could do one of two things. They could either wallow in misery bemoaning the missed boat or they could endeavor to be timelier and prepare for the next opportunity to send their package. The former’s mental outlook locks them in negativity while the latter’s set them up to move forward positively.
Guilt is defined, in part, as an emotion that occurs when a person feels that they have violated a moral standard. As members of the ever growing world society we should appreciate the guilt associated with pangs of conscience when someone does something wrong. It helps to keep this world from plunging into total chaos. However, chronic guilt has gripped many people causing great mental and physical anguish. The anguish that is caused leads to stressed bodies, minds and families causing a dizzying downward spiral that some sadly never pull out of.
How Guilt Affects Us
Guilt has some very specific physiological effects on the body. These effects can foster very negative health outcomes if left unmitigated:
Adrenal Fatigue – Guilt feelings, especially those that are unresolved, raises the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Stress through guilt puts constant demand on the adrenal glands which produces cortisol and they eventually “burnout”. This can lead to fatigue and in some cases it is so extreme that some cannot get out of bed for more than a few hours at time. It also causes other organs in the body to over work eventually leading to their burnout as well.
Headaches and backaches – One of the initial symptoms of chronic guilt is muscular tension. This usually takes place in the lower back or in the neck region. Tense lower back muscles causes backaches and tense neck muscles can really make the head ache something terrible.
In the next article we will explore ways of overcoming guilt to help foster a better mental and physical outlook on your life.