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Post-Conflict Guilt

After a conflict, some of us experience a sense of guilt. We may realize we contributed to the discord by saying or doing something that we know offended the other person. We may have been insulting. We may have not told the truth. We may have retaliated, gossiped, or acted in our self-interest – to the other person’s detriment. These and other actions may haunt us after the conflict and lead to continuing self-blame.

According to Wikipedia, the term guilt “is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.”

Lots of things happen when we experience guilt about a situation. For instance, we carry around our negative emotions and feel badly for extended periods. We continually berate ourselves. Some of us try to compensate for what happened by being overly solicitous and make efforts to get back into the other person’s good graces. Some of us apologize before we (or the other person) are ready. We may over-explain or try to excuse ourselves and attempt to make up for what we said or did in other ways.

If you feel guilty about a situation that occurred, this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog will hopefully help you find your way through it:

  • About what are you experiencing guilt?
  • What other words describe your feelings of guilt?
  • How does the concept of guilt – according to the above overview and definition – apply to your experience in this conflict situation, if it does?
  • What would you do or say differently if you had a chance to redo the interaction that occurred?
  • What do you think you would achieve by doing so – that you did not the first time?
  • What precluded you from doing that at the time?
  • What could you do to feel less guilty that would also be effective, in some way, for the other person?
  • In what ways would it work for you? How would it be more effective for the other person?
  • Going forward, what do you think you will do differently to preclude feelings of guilt?
  • What learning or insights have you gained from your answers to this week’s blog?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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