It is common knowledge that our conscience provides us with directions on what is right and wrong. It helps us distinguish good from evil. We all have that silent voice at the back of our minds whispering what to do and what not to do. It is always there with us, always giving us guidence and according to most religions, it is God’s way of leading us to the path of good.
Unfortunately, while the advice of the conscience is always sound, the body is not always bound to follow the direction of the conscience. The role of the conscience is purely advisory and most of the time, what we do may not be in line with what the conscience dictates. In the events that we follow our conscience and do what is right and honourable, our conscience is pleased and satisfied and so are we. However, when we go against our conscience and do something that we clearly know to be wrong, the result is a guilty conscience.
Carrying a guilty conscience can be quite a heavy burden and there are very many reasons why this is so. First of all, a guilty conscience is associated with fear and anxiety. There is always the fear that what you did will be found out and that you will be made to account for your actions either by law or social justice. The constant fear that comes with a guilty conscience can negatively improve your capacity for work and your concentration and, depending on the magnitude of the wrong that you did, even result in depression. Besides the fear, another problem that comes with a guilty conscience is low self esteem. While you can lie and convince everyone else that you did not do anything wrong, it is practically impossible to lie to yourself and you will always have to live with the truth of what you did. The result of carrying a guilty conscience is that you hate yourself for what you did, throwing your self esteem into the trash and reducing your self confidence.
Most people, burdened by carrying a guilty conscience, often turn to drugs to clear their minds and relieve them of the distressing thoughts associated with guilt. As such, the guilt only serves to further draw people into wrong doing and has been the cause of a fair share of drug and alcohol addiction in the past. At the worst, individuals burdened with a guilty conscience have been known to take their own lives to atone for the guilt.
Dealing with the problem of a guilty conscience is important if you wish to be able to get on with your life and regain your self esteem. Religion offers a way out when it comes to dealing with the guilt. According to Christianity, for instance, we are all the children of a loving God who is able to forgive us for any crimes we committed in the past if we confess and repent sincerely for the same. Even among non-believers, the power of confession when dealing with the problem of guilt is recognized. Confession and facing up to the consequences of past actions is the only way to get rid of a guilty conscience once and for all.