Feeling guilty is a common human emotion—as you will see in these guilty quotes.
Guilt is defined as a self-conscious emotion that involves negative evaluations of the self, feelings of distress, and feelings of failure.
However, feeling guilty doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Making a mistake, and then feeling bad about it, can help us stay true to our moral compass.
It can lead us to make changes and become better people. However, many people take on feelings of guilt for things they should not.
Guilt is brought on by a person’s own ideas of what is right and wrong. So, someone might not have any guilt for doing the same action as someone else, who would be guilt-ridden. These guilty quotes from influential and famous people offer varying opinions on the topic.
The true danger of feeling guilty happens when someone suffers from chronic guilt. Keep reading to learn more!
Guilty quotes from influential figures
1. “You’re innocent until proven guilty.” — John Kennedy
2. “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.” — William Shakespeare
3. “When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty.’” — Theodore Roosevelt
4. “It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape.” — Thomas Jefferson
5. “With the advent of DNA, we know that people have been convicted and sentenced to death who later proved not to be guilty of the crime.” — Kamala Harris
6. “Any government that supports, protects or harbours terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes.” — George W. Bush
7. “We Muslims believe that the white race, which is guilty of having oppressed and exploited and enslaved our people here in America, should and will be the victims of God’s divine wrath.” — Malcolm X
8. “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” — Malcolm X
9. “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” — Ronald Reagan
10. “Some may remember, if you have good memories, that there used to be a concept in Anglo-American law called a presumption of innocence, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Now that’s so deep in history that there’s no point even bringing it up, but it did once exist.” — Noam Chomsky
Guilty quotes from famous people
11. “I definitely don’t plead guilty to being a heartthrob.” — Bruno Mars
12. “I don’t categorize food as bad or a guilty pleasure.” — Rachael Ray
13. “Sometimes you can’t prioritize family and you feel guilty.” — Adam Sandler
14. “When we played softball, I’d steal second base, feel guilty and go back.” — Woody Allen
15. “When it comes to gossip, I have to readily admit men are as guilty as women.” — Marilyn Monroe
16. “You’re guilty until proven innocent. Perception is reality, that’s the way that it is in this world.” — Chris Webber
17. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” — J. K. Rowling
18. “I don’t like war. I particularly don’t like the celebration of war, which I think the administration is a little bit guilty of.” — Neil Young
19. “Our constitutionally-based criminal justice system places a high value on protecting the innocent. Among its central tenets is the idea that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to convict someone without evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.” — Robert Shapiro
20. “All the seven deadly sins are man’s true nature. To be greedy. To be hateful. To have lust. Of course, you have to control them, but if you’re made to feel guilty for being human, then you’re going to be trapped in a never-ending sin-and-repent cycle that you can’t escape from.” — Marilyn Manson
Amusing guilty quotes
21. “I used to feel guilty about owning a console.” — Vin Diesel
22. “The only guilty pleasure I have is pasta.” — Allison Janney
23. “My guilty pleasure is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.” — Rachel Bilson
24. “In this rat-race everybody’s guilty till proved innocent!” — Bette Davis
25. “Watching ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ is my guilty pleasure.” — Sue Townsend
26. “A McDonald’s cheeseburger with no mustard is my guilty pleasure.” — Matt Hardy
27. “I often buy things, feel a little guilty, but then think that it’s so worth it.” — Ananya Birla
28. “Conservation is for guilty people on Park Avenue with poodles and Pekingeses.” — Peter Beard
29. “My guilty pleasure is listening to Enya in the bathtub. I do bubbles. I do essential oils. Candles, if they’re around.” — Chord Overstreet
30. “I’ve dropped a lot of race humor from my routines, not because I think it is in bad taste, but because I don’t want to be guilty of telling old jokes.” — Nipsey Russell
Guilty quotes about oneself
31. “The only crime I’m guilty of is being a young black woman.” — Foxy Brown
32. “I have never done anything which I feel guilty about or wish I had not done it.” — Amit Shah
33. “I don’t want ever to be guilty of what my critics claim: doing formula without original elements.” — Piers Anthony
34. “I guess I don’t think there’s any reason to feel guilty about having joy in your life, regardless of how bad things are in the world.” — Jeff Tweedy
35. “I’d rather believe in my own choice and see it all go wrong than do something I’m not fully convinced of and later feel guilty about it.” — Alicia Keys
36. “I would feel so guilty about lying that I would try to stress myself out and work up a headache so I wouldn’t have the guilt of not having a bit of the symptom.” — Justin Long
37. “You shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Every so often, everyone needs to give themselves a big ol’ bear hug and treat themselves to some TLC.” — Sean Covey
38. “Sometimes it’s difficult to accept, to recognize one’s own mistakes, but one must do it. I was guilty of overconfidence and arrogance, and I was punished for that.” — Mikhail Gorbachev
39. “I refuse to feel guilty. I feel guilty about too much in my life but not about money. I went through periods when I had nothing, so somebody in my family has to get stinkin’ wealthy.” — Jim Carrey
40. “I really enjoy making sure the kids get a healthy dinner, a good bath and several books… I really like to try and end the day with some quality time with my kids. If not, I feel guilty.” — Norah O’Donnell
Thought-provoking guilty quotes
41. “The guilty think all talk is of themselves.” — Geoffrey Chaucer
42. “He who is obsessed by death is made guilty by it.” — Elias Canetti
43. “Every guilty person is his own hangman.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
44. “Men tend to feel threatened; women tend to feel guilty.” — Edwin Louis Cole
45. “It is better that ten guilty escape than one innocent suffer.” — William Blackstone
46. “A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.” — Albert Camus
47. “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.” — George Orwell
48. “Whoever blushes is already guilty; true innocence is ashamed of nothing.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau
49. “Everyone says corruption is everywhere, but for me it seems strange to say that and then not try to put the people guilty of that corruption away.” — Alexei Navalny
50. “False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.” — Joseph de Maistre
Everything you wanted to know about guilt
Guilt, when felt appropriately, should lead to an action that shows remorse and an effort to change behaviors. However, some people don’t take that step and wallow in their guilt instead. This can lead to feelings of shame, inadequacy, and self-doubt.
Shame can cause physical symptoms of unease as well. These might include things like stomach aches and trouble sleeping or eating. Shame is an emotion that you will want to address before it eats away at you. It can accompany feelings of guilt but is not the same thing!
Did you know that are several different types of guilt? Guilt can be either reactive, anticipatory, or existential. It is helpful to understand the differences so you can acknowledge the emotion and move on.
Reactive guilt occurs when we believe we acted in a way that goes against our personal beliefs of what is considered moral. Anticipatory guilt happens when we think about acting against personal (or societal) moral standards, and affects the choices we make.
Existential guilt is a little more complicated. It involves a person’s feelings for general injustice or may describe the guilt a person feels for negatively impacting the lives of others.
What are your thoughts on guilt? Do you have any other guilty quotes and sayings to add? Let us know in the comment section below.
March 31, 2022 7:00 AM EST