feeling guilty

The Guilt Gene: Exploring the Genetic Predisposition to Feeling Guilty

BioCertica Content Team

Explore the intricate link between genetics and guilt. Discover how your genes may influence your susceptibility to feeling guilty.

What is guilt?

Guilt is experiencing a sense of distress and feeling self-conscious about the potential responsibility for a negative outcome. This complex emotion has important role in multiple psychological models and has many types:

  • Altruistic: understanding guilt that arises from causing harm
  • Deontological: self-conscious guilt arising from breaking personal morals and values
  • Existential guilt: guilt arising from not meeting your goals
  • Non-related guilt: guilt arising lacking a clear association between the outcome and your actions
  • Inequality guilt: guilt arising from imbalance circumstances

Guilt as a positive motivatorĀ 

Guilt, as an emotional response, serves a purpose in human psychology and can be useful in certain contexts. Here are a few reasons why guilt can be seen as a positive thing. For example, guilt can act as an internal moral compass. It can guide individuals toward behaviours that align with their personal values and societal norms. When someone experiences guilt, it often indicates that they have violated their own moral standards or that they have acted in a way that they see as wrong. Guilt pushes individuals to take responsibility for their actions, acknowledge the consequences, and seek to rectify any damage done.

Excessive guiltĀ 

Guilt can become a negative thing when it is excessive, prolonged, or unjustified. Be wary of excessive guilt as it can lead to unnecessary self-blame and a constant sense of shame. Additionally, try to avoid feeling guilty for things that are beyond your control because it can cause unnecessary emotional distress and hinder your personal well-being.

The geneticsĀ 

Guilt is a complex emotion influenced by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Your genetic inclination to guilt is primarily attributed to genetic variations impacting your neurotransmitter systems, your emotional processing, your personality traits, your moral values, your empathy, and your susceptibility to psychiatric conditions.Ā 

How to handle guiltĀ 

Genetics is just one factor in the complex landscape of guilt. Environmental, social and personal experiences also significantly shape how you experience guilt. It is important to note that how you experience guilt varies among individuals, and excessive or chronic guilt can be harmful to one's well-being. You should strive to view your guilt as a prompt for reflection and growth, rather than a constant burden. It is important to address guilt by learning from it, making amends when necessary, and trying to make positive changes. If guilt is affecting your life, consult with a health professional.Ā 

Knowing your genetic predisposition to feeling guilty allows you to increase your self-awareness and how you address your guilt. To find out more, visit our website and have a look at our mindfulness package to become more self-aware.Ā 


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