Do you ever wonder how to let go of guilt? How do we find the balance between accepting guilty feelings when they are justified and letting them go when they’re not?
Here are suggestions to help you maintain healthy levels of guilt.
- How to stop feeling guilty about a mistake and how to deal with guilt and shame.
- How do we find the balance between accepting guilty feelings when they are justified and letting them go when they’re not?
1. Don’t punish yourself.
Even if whatever you did was really bad, it isn’t helpful to punish yourself. Everyone does something that they end up regretting at some point, and the best thing to do is to learn from it and not repeat the same mistake.
Don’t dwell on your mistake, thinking that the more you dwell on it, the more progress you are making towards redemption. While guilt may cause you to feel undeserving of happiness, don’t sabotage your own well-being as a penalty. It won’t make up for your mistake, and it will create a more miserable situation. Simply ask for forgiveness and move on.
2. Forgive yourself.
In addition to asking other people for forgiveness, you need to ask yourself for forgiveness. Being able to accomplish self-forgiveness after feelings of guilt is critical to one’s self-esteem, which is an important component to enjoying life and relationships.
It is important to realize that you can forgive yourself while still knowing you were at fault, just like you would forgive someone else even if you knew they did something wrong. You can feel regretful of your actions, but be compassionate with yourself and accept that it is okay to make mistakes sometimes. Maybe you did your best under the given circumstances at the time. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you deny yourself forgiveness.
3. Accept you were wrong.
If you did something that was wrong or hurtful, you will have to take responsibility for it, but accept that you cannot change the past. It is critical to go through the process of understanding why you were wrong, but then you must let it go. The more you focus on the fact that you did something wrong, the more it will bother you and interfere with your life.
Guilt is typically a situational emotion, and it is nothing to get mad over. Either time will pass, or you will just realize that you shouldn’t feel so bad and you end up feeling less guilty. If you are able to recognize the issue and take action sooner instead of later, you will feel better and your guilt will be relieved. But not doing any kind of compensatory behavior (like apologizing) will allow the bad feelings to stay, and may lead to anxiety and depression. Accept that you were wrong, make amends, and move on.
4. Seek professional help.
If you feel like your guilt is more than you can handle, it may be time to speak with a professional. This may be the case if it is not possible to resolve your guilty feelings with the person who was harmed, such as when one person dies before another can apologize for a past behavior.
In situations such as this, psychotherapy may be appropriate. Professionals can provide clients with exercises to practice that will help them learn how to deal with guilt and process the negative emotions.
A therapist could even work with a group or a family to settle issues of guilt that impact more than one person.
For some people, taking a medication may be helpful or even necessary to regain their happiness and confidence after a situation that ended in tremendous guilt. This is something that can also be discussed with a professional therapist to see if this might be the right path for you.
5. Keep track of your guilt.
When there’s a difference between who you are and who you want to be, you will experience incongruence and unhappiness. Keeping a daily journal is the most effective habit you can start to try to fix this. If you can write down how you feel each day, you will increase your self-awareness and be able to learn how the guilt is affecting you.
Journaling will also allow you to write about all of the components of the situation that have led to your feelings of guilt. By going over what you did step-by-step and weighing it objectively, you can better understand if you deserve the inner turmoil that you are experiencing.
How to Build a Daily Personal Journaling Habit
Using your journaling time to live in the moment and track how your feelings change over time will allow you to notice the incongruences in your life and recover from your guilt. You will be able to figure out the small steps you need to make to creates changes in your life towards happiness.
6. You’re not supposed to be perfect.
Nobody is perfect. Even people who you think live perfect lives make mistakes. Aiming to be perfect in any part of your life will never go quite as planned.
The key to realizing that perfection does not exist is to accept you are a part of humanity, and that everyone else around you is also just trying their best to make their way through life.
Learn how to deal with guilt and a guilty conscience and overcome the need for perfection.
Nobody is perfect. Even people who you think live perfect lives make mistakes.
7. Check your behavior.
When it comes to feelings of guilt, many of us tend to lay it on thick. Sure, sometimes this is well deserved, but usually we exaggerate our punishment to help us feel like we have done our part. Because this is not healthy, you need to step back and reassess your behavior to determine if the amount of guilt you’re allowing yourself to feel is appropriate.
This where determining the type of guilt you are feeling (whether it is proportionate or disproportionate) is important. Is your guilt causing you to feel stress, anxiety, or depression? If so, how are these additional feelings manifesting in your behavior? You certainly don’t want to make things worse than they already are.
8. Focus on now.
Stop thinking about what could have been and focus on what is. Remember, no amount of rumination can change the past, so you are only increasing your anxiety by going over situations in your head repeatedly.
Instead, focus on the present moment and live mindfully. You have control over how you are acting and feeling right now, and there is no use in adding more despair to your life.
9. Be mindful.
There are two ways that being mindful can help you deal with feelings of guilt. First, when you are practicing mindfulness, you are living in the moment. This means you are not thinking about your regrets or anything that happened in the past. You are only concentrating on the things in front of you in this very moment.
Secondly, if needed, you can take some time as you are practicing mindfulness to ask yourself questions and observe your responses to help bring awareness to your own feelings of guilt. For example, one question might be, “What can I do every day to show myself that I am worthy of being happy, and to help build a new foundation of genuine confidence?” Gaining awareness of your feelings is the first step to dealing with them in a mindful and effective way.
10. Let it go.
Eventually, you have got to just apologize and let it go. While you might still be facing the consequences of a bad decision, you can stop obsessing over them.
Stop giving yourself a hard time, and don’t go overboard to try to please the person you hurt or betrayed. Their forgiveness is in their own hands. Recognize the negative consequences of holding onto the past and just let it go.
Guilt is a very common emotion that everyone experiences. But it is important to identify the type of guilt you are dealing with. Be aware that not all feelings of guilt are rational and purposeful.
Remember to always be skeptical when you feel guilty – is the emotion trying to show you something rational about your behavior, or is it an extreme response to a meaningless situation? Your answer here is your first step to helping you cope with future feelings of guilt.
There are consequences when we don’t address our guilt, such as feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression. Make sure that you face your wrongdoing and make amends so you can tie up any loose ends with the situation before moving on. That is the core of dealing with guilt when you have wronged others.
The steps above are a great start to address your guilt and learn how to deal with the guilt in your life in a healthy manner. Start with one or two, and take note of your progress. Once you see that you have control over your feelings of guilt, continue to work through more of the steps until you have completely let it go.
The problem is not that you have these feelings of guilt – it’s that they persist. Not taking action eventually leads to self-loathing. So it’s time to let go of this pattern of guilt and start to feel good again. The good news is that hypnosis lets you open the ‘door to change’ and with the help of hypnotherapy you can let go of that guilt and start to live your life again!
Imagine what it would be like to:
- Let go of past mistakes and misguided actions!
- Break free from unwanted negative thoughts!
- Experience an enthusiasm for life once more!
This hypnosis sessions will gently guide you into a state of deep relaxation, in which you can let your mind become open to new thoughts and new ideas. Developed by our team of highly experienced hypnotherapists, it can give you the chance to work on your emotions and to positively affect the part of your mind that has held onto feelings of guilt for far too long.
With regular hypnosis sessions, you can help to ‘program’ your mind at a truly deep level. When those guilt feelings have gone for good, you can begin to experience a feeling of happiness and contentment with life – by continuing to be the best person you can be.