Resisting Stress: When Guilt is Good

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • Life is full of stress and there are plenty of occasions when we can do nothing, or very little, to avoid it. Of course this doesn’t mean we are victims to stress. There are plenty of things we can all do to resist the negative effects of stress and this is where we must realize we have choices.


    Change sometimes brings about conflict but the conflict I’m thinking of in this context is personal in nature. It stands to reason that if you are regularly feeling overwhelmed, or bored, or resentful or any other of the many negative emotions that something really needs to give. For one thing these negative emotions are signals of stress and they are telling you make adjustments to your life. The trouble is that we can become so used to justifying what we do and why we do it that we can’t see the need for change even when the circumstances and the time allow it. If, for example, you’ve ever found yourself in the position of thinking by the time you’ve seen to him, done things for her and seen to everyone else there’s no time for you – well there’s a problem. You are in fact avoiding your own welfare through some ill-conceived form of self-sacrifice. Put another way, you are avoiding responsibility for yourself and your health.

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    In his book Stress-Related Illness, psychiatrist Dr. Tim Cantopher argues that you need to cut back on doing things for other people so that at least 20 percent of your life is for yourself. He makes the case that if you don’t do this, all the sacrifices you are making to others won’t amount to very much when you become ill. It comes down to this; you can choose to remain as you are and continue to feel the associated stress and negative emotions, or you could choose to change.


    If you choose change you may start to feel another negative emotion called guilt. This is probably one of the rare times that guilt is good because it is probably a sign that you are finally doing something for yourself.

Published On: January 13, 2014