The Health Risks of Guilt
by Christel Nani, RN, Medical Intuitive
Guilt is bad for your health. I define guilt as a conflict between your inherited inner rules and your spirit. This conflict lowers your vibration, stresses your immune system, and is a precursor to illness. Feeling guilty causes physical symptoms ranging from a knot in your stomach to migraines, fatigue, colds, irritability, and depression. It can also exacerbate flare-ups of herpes, back pain, and immune disorders.
Now scientists have proven that guilt compromises the immune system. In a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, test subjects were asked to write about traumatic experiences for which they felt guilt. They were assessed before and afterwards for two substances associated with immune system activity—tumour necrosis factor receptor levels and 2-microglobulin—as well as cortisol, the stress hormone. After the test, participants showed elevated levels of all three.
In another study, at the University of Hull in Britain, researchers found that levels of immunoglobulin A, associated with strong immunity, plummeted when test subjects admitted to guilty pleasures, such as sex, chocolate, drinking, and smoking.
Even small hits to the immune system can have a devastating cumulative effect on health over time. While you think you can live with a little guilt now, holding onto guilt long term changes your energetic blueprint. Lingering guilt leaves you feeling trapped and anxious, which not only distracts you from enjoying life, but creates a breeding ground for self-recrimination that lowers your self-esteem and erodes your confidence. These changes in behaviour and thought patterns can result in many diseases including lupus, MS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and fibroids.
Here are some simple steps to diagnose your conflict, heal your guilt, and achieve better health:
Listen for tell-tale words in
If you hear yourself saying such phrases as “I should… I have to… I’m supposed to… I must… I have no choice…,” it is a sure sign that you’re doing something not because you want to, but because you feel it is expected of you. This is the root of guilt—the conflict between what you want to do and what you believe others want you to do.
Identify your limiting tribal beliefs
Tribal beliefs are the limiting rules you were taught by the tribes you belong to: your family, religion, social circle, workplace, and so on. Tribal beliefs are always at the root of guilt. To find the root tribal belief, ask yourself why you feel guilt. For example, a client I’ll call Sara didn’t want to visit an old friend for the holidays because she felt the two of them had grown apart, and the so-called friend was always negative and an energy drain to be around. However, Sara felt she should visit her because she had known her for twenty years, and the woman had stood by Sara at a time when Sara had been gravely ill. Sara identified her tribal belief to be: A long-time friend should be your friend for life, no matter what.
Watch for head chatter
When people are driven by guilt, they begin to negotiate with themselves. Sara’s chatter went something like this: “I’ll go visit her, but I’ll only stay for fifteen minutes”, “I’ll get someone else to drive me so I’ll have an easy excuse to leave”, “I have to go to the store in that direction anyway, so I’ll just stop in and say a quick hello.” When you start negotiating, procrastinating, or skirting around the issue, guilt is getting the upper hand and will start to wear you down.
Get to the heart of your true wishes
Next, here is the big question to ask yourself: If there were no logistical considerations—if you are not going to hurt anyone’s feelings, if no one will believe you are selfish, if your actions will not create any distress or anger to anyone—what would you truly like to do? When I asked Sara this question, she answered immediately: “I don’t want to see her.” Notice how clear our decisions become when we stop worrying about our reputations!
Find a way to be true to your wishes
Eventually, you will want to rewrite your limiting tribal beliefs and start living by new ones. Sara’s new tribal belief might be: It is reasonable to believe that friends sometimes grow apart and no longer have common interests. For now, though, a simpler and less involved solution is to make a commitment to solve this problem incrementally. How can you stay true to yourself and rid yourself of the guilt simultaneously? Sara’s solution was to call the friend for two minutes and say that although she couldn’t come by, she genuinely wanted to wish her happy holidays and a healthy new year.
What happens when you learn how to rid yourself of guilt? You will immediately feel less irritation, anger, and resentment. Resentment only happens when we slavishly listen to our tribal beliefs rather than listening to our heart’s true wishes. You will also feel calmer, less tired, more clear-headed, and better able to sleep at night.
Guilt will stop when you stop worrying about what others think of you. You’ll start to live more authentically, in alignment with who you are and what you really want to be doing with your own life. Try it! You’ll feel more energetic, positive, and self-confident right away.
Christel Nani (www.christelnani.com) spent sixteen years as a trauma nurse in New York City’s busiest emergency rooms. Now she is an internationally known healer and teacher whom Deepak Chopra calls “inspiring and compelling.” As an Interfaith Minister Rev. Christel teaches the principles of Spiritual Responsibility to audiences throughout the world. Her new book is Sacred Choices: Thinking Outside the Tribe to Heal Your Spirit (Harmony Books). It is available wherever books are sold.