"Guilt has been with us as long as humans have psyches, "but we still don't know definitively how it works in the human psyche or the best way to deal with it."Guilt, and its cousin, obligation, are not, in my opinion, inherent human emotions. I think they are manufactured by society as a means to an end. Typically, unscrupulous ends. I think the true human emotion is remorse. Remorse is a self-directed emotion. It is your inner consciousness that tells you if what you have done is morally right or wrong. Guilt is put upon you by society and culture. The expectation that what you may or may not have done is moral. It is not surprising that we joke about Catholic guilt as the opening of the article states. It is an effective means of keeping the sheep in line. It is a stereotype that has a real meaning for a real purpose.
Emotional obligation is very much the same beast. It is a societal or cultural expectation that you perform duties in a certain way. Failure to do so will mean that society will attempt to make you feel guilty. A common example of this is the expectation that you have to go somewhere for Thanksgiving. Every year. It is a tradition. Yet, you hate it. You don't look forward to it. You want to not go this year, but you feel obligated to do so. If you don't, you will be made to feel guilty. The question is, if you don't go, will you personally feel remorse? The difference is subtle. To break free of that expectation is incredibly liberating. I know. I was raised in a family that specialized in guilt and obligation. I absolutely dreaded going to my parent's house for any reason. It was not enjoyable and would usually lead to many awkward moments. Enough was enough.
If you feel a sense of guilt or obligation, look closely at why. Just once, try and break free of it and enjoy the sense of liberation that it brings. Eventually, you will feel the weight of the world lifting off your shoulders and personal empowerment will soon follow.