Healthy guilt, sometimes referred to as contrition, is an emotional interrupter designed to get your attention. Healthy guilt tells you that you made a mistake (e.g., violated a code of etiquette or conduct or expectations, were careless or unthinking). It reminds you that you’re human. All humans makes mistakes and you can learn a new way. It suggests you make restitution whenever and wherever possible.
Unfortunately guilt is often completely misunderstood and turned into unhealthy guilt.
Unhealthy guilt is usually a learned response that often begins in early childhood. Unhealthy guilt says that you yourself are a mistake and nothing can remedy that. It’s hopeless. You may as well just go out to the garden and eat worms because that’s all you deserve.