It is only too easy to compel a sensitive human being to feel guilty about anything. ~Morton Irving Seiden
When our self-esteem account runs short, guilt is often the culprit. Not guilt in the sense of, "I took the money," but "I am responsible for everything~so this must be my fault, too." There's no surer way of depleting self-esteem than to take on the responsibility for everyone's feelings, happiness, or need to be accepted. Nobody's pockets are that deep!
Sooner or later our resources run out. Somebody's feelings are hurt, somebody else feels rejected, and yet another person and another and another are lining up, waiting for a "happiness handout," an ear to bend, a shoulder to lean on. Exhausted as we are, we may immediately blame ourselves for not having more to give. We may not see at all that our sense of obligation is seriously out of whack.
Managing self-esteem means trading in unhealthy guilt for healthy concern. Each of the responses to other people's miseries is very different from the other. Unjustified guilt springs from a false idea about our role in other people's lives. It implies that we not only can but should do for others what they should be doing for themselves. Concern is the loving, caring interest that helps other people find their own answers.
Knee-jerk guilt is a setup for low self-esteem.
H/T: Believing In Myself