Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze us––or catalyze us into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one's failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression.

Recent posts on Guilt

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An Inauthentic Apology Can Be Maddening

Why is apologizing as difficult as a root canal for some people? This is how we may respond when we're protecting our image rather than sincerely apologizing.

Just Say No

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on October 07, 2016 in Life After 50
Are you afraid to say "no"? Do you often feel angry because you are spending time with people you don't like? Are you wasting time doing favors for people who don't matter to you?

How Your Regrets Can Actually Help You

Today in America the dominant opinion on regret is to get over it, let it go, or—if you’re a New Yorker—“fuhgeddaboudit!” In her TED Talk on the subject, Kathryn Schulz notes . . .
flickr image by Anant Nath SharmaAnant Nath Sharma

Do You Feel Guilty or Ashamed?

This article helps us find a language to differentiate between how we feel when we make a mistake or fall short of our ideals from the paralyzing shame of being a mistake.

Television With Tots: Guilt Free Co-Viewing Recommendations

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on September 29, 2016 in Screen Time
Have concerns about your young child's screen time? These few recommendation may help.

Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two rather different negative emotions which are often confused. In both cases, people feel bad about themselves—but that is where the similarity ends.

The Story Of One Sexually Abused Girl

By Marvin G. Knittel Ed.D. on September 07, 2016 in How to Help a Friend
Far too many adults carry feelings of guilt and shame left by childhood sexual abuse. Therapy can help alleviate the pain but major efforts need to be spent on prevention.

Guilt: In This Case, You're Not Responsible!

Are straight parents able to change the sexual orientation of their LGBT kids? Should they feel guilty if they can't?

Dissecting the Clean-Eating Meme

By Emily T. Troscianko on August 29, 2016 in A Hunger Artist
At the heart of 'clean eating' is a potent metaphor. It's worth taking a long hard look at its threats and promises and the rest of its dangerous box of cognitive tricks.

Murder of Mississippi Nuns Echoes Homicide From Long Ago

A suspect has been arrested—but did he know right from wrong?

Taking Care of Elderly Parents

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on August 23, 2016 in Life After 50
Is taking care of an elderly parent making you feel guilty no matter how much you do?

Accepting Difficult Emotions Surrounding Race

We all need to get better at accepting, rather than avoiding, difficult feelings. Anti-racism action requires embracing the discomfort.

Open Letter to Hillary

Lest you come off as a privileged bully who has no accountability, you must come clean.

Did Boomers Doom Their Adult Kids to Years of Therapy?

By Dena Kouremetis on August 07, 2016 in The Unedited Offspring
Can today's parents learn by Boomers' mistakes? How you prepare your child for adulthood is key.

Do You or Your Partner Use Guilt Trips to Get What You Want?

Are you a guilt tripper? New research shows that certain people will try to use guilt to motivate change in their partners. Depending on who your partner is, this is a bad idea.

When You Don't Know What to Say

By Wendy Lustbader M.S.W. on August 03, 2016 in Life Gets Better
Often we don't phone or visit when a loved one is ill or grieving because we don't know what to say and dread our awkwardness—then we feel guilty about our silence and inaction.

How Does a Lung Cancer Diagnosis Change a Life?

Does a lung cancer diagnosis lead to new ideas about lifestyle, stress relief and disease? Yes it does.

Fear of Inadequacy and What to Do About It

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 25, 2016 in Ambigamy
More than we notice, we're driven by fear of inadequacy. Here's the way to manage it.

Culpably Unwarranted Delay: Is There an App for That?

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on July 15, 2016 in Don't Delay
Once it becomes clear that procrastination involves a mens rea (guilty mind), significant opportunities for intervention come into view.

4 Parts of a Real Apology

Apology is a relational process that leads to change.
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Loyalty Is Overrated

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 14, 2016 in How To Do Life
Why loyalty's benefits are often outweighed by its liabilities.

“I’m Sorry You Were Offended” Is Not Really an Apology!

Consider these 5 steps to get good at saying sorry when you aren’t even sure you did anything wrong.

The Manipulator

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 09, 2016 in How To Do Life
We're more vulnerable than we may think.

Guilty of the Sin of Outdoing

Some families are truly happy to have their child outdo them. But others may resent our success.

Are They Shooting at You?

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on June 14, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
The Orlando massacre, and reactions to it, turn flight to fight. The denial is as self-intoxicating as American gun mania.

Religious Disapproval of Porn

By Temma Ehrenfeld on June 07, 2016 in Open Gently
Using porn more than once a week seems tied to shame.

5 Psychological Habits That Can Limit Your Ability to Think

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on June 01, 2016 in The Squeaky Wheel
Your brain has a finite amount of processing power. Here's how to avoid wasting it.

The Guilty Pleasure of True Crime TV

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on May 30, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
Watching true crime TV is like eating candy in bed at three o’clock in the morning.

Get a Grip on Guilt in Three Simple Steps

Guilt is natural because your brain is designed to scan for threats, and social threats are survival threats to the brain we’ve inherited from earlier mammals.

We Don't Know if Dogs Feel Guilt So Stop Saying They Don't

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 22, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Myths about dog behavior abound. Individual differences must be appreciated and it's essential to get things right so dogs and humans can live together as harmoniously as possible.