We all have have felt guilt. Maybe from something we did, or perhaps for something we said, or maybe even a thought we had. Guilt will shut down your joy in an instance. But what happens when guilt is a problem and won’t go away. Here is how to understand and solve guilty emotions.
Guilt is not a good thing when experienced for along time. However guilt is the sign you have a conscious. A heart, a moral compass of some type. If you are feeling guilty you must first know what is causing it. This is usually easy, but sometimes it may not be the obvious thing causing your guilt to rise.
For example, a client I had awhile ago used to feel guilty when she had a little extra money. She thought having money was unholy and sinful. She didn’t have lots of money, but she was always taught that money was bad. Rich people were evil and if you had lots of money you where selfish and sinful. She didn’t realise money wasn’t the problem, but her beliefs where the problem, and this belief caused her to hold back her dreams, for she thought success would lead to money. She settled for what her conscious allowed. Her guilt appeared to be good, but really it held her back. I’ll tell you more about that story later. But first lets have a look at some tips that can help.
Dealing with guilt:
1: Know what is the “real” cause of your guilt
Write it down if you have to. Do take the time out to think it through. Be specific, for example say a person who ripped off people. Don’t just say “I feel guilty because I hurt people”, go deeper than that, like “why does this make you feel guilty due to hurting people?” Get to the root cause.
2: Rational OR Irrational guilt
Is is permissible why you are feeling guilt? Or are you being too strict on yourself? This is why number 1 is necessary. Let me explain. Sometimes people feel real guilty over something very small. They overreact to the gravity and scale of what they have done. You thought a thought and now you feel guilty and confused as to why you thought the thought. This is irrational because you can’t always control your thoughts, due to the fact you can’t always control what you hear or see for example. Alternatively, if you called somebody a horrible name, guilt is normal to feel afterwards.
3: Back to the Future
Sometimes our guilt was not there at the time of the mistake, but now years later it has appeared with a vengeance. You see as we grow up in life we develop a moral code. This can grow in the right direction or the wrong direction, but for those of us who become less self centred we realise that things in our past where bad. This can cause regret and guilt. You can’t change the past.
4: Sort it out
You can make peace if there was another person hurt. Send an email, call them, or whatever way you feel would be understood. Do bare in mind they may not be expecting you to bring it up. So a call or message might be best if you don’t see them too often. Particularly when you don’t know how they might react.
5: Unrealistic expectations
This I find can be a real problem. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Concerned about everybody else and forgetting yourself. I had a friend who could never say no. Everybody would ask them for help, whether it was money or some other favour they couldn’t say no. He explained he felt guilty if he didn’t help. So I told him to have balance, and sometimes its ok to say no. “No” is not a bad word.
6: Don’t keep thinking about it
Let it go. Distract your thinking if its not leaving you, even after you have made peace.
7: Ask God to forgive you
Take it to your Father in Heaven. God says He loves you unconditionally so start there. There have been murderers on death row who realised that through a relationship with God they can only be at peace in their souls. They committed evil crimes, but because they discovered God they realise the bad they’d done. God deals with guilt, but He also leads you to the right path. Its never too late to change and ask for forgiveness. “The steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord.” There is no condemnation in God.
8: Forgive Yourself
This is the most important step. You must forgive yourself. People make mistakes, you made mistakes, but you are leaving it all behind in your past. You cannot change the old you, but you can define the new you. Shake it off.
9: People don’t always forgive
You may apologise to the person you’ve hurt, but they may not forgive you in return. Learn to live with that, but know you did the right thing. Know that their reaction is not your responsibility. It might take time or it might never come, but know that making peace on your part is the right thing to do.
10: The future
Be future focused. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it. Turn the negative into a positive and understand that the future is in your hands. Every person on the planet has made mistakes just like you. Leave the past behind, you’ve grown up, you’ve matured, you’ve learned to think of others, and you won’t make that mistake again.
If you seem stuck, then chat to somebody, drop me an email, but get it off your chest if you find you can’t let it go. Guilt is sometimes the beginning of healing. Its the realisation that one has done wrong. But we may need to talk about it. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Getting back to my story of the girl who felt guilty when she had money. What we discovered was…
- Its the LOVE of money that breeds evil, not actually having money
- She deserves to have a blessed life
- She learned to give what she could afford to charity
- She learned the more she earned, the more she had to give away
That was her issue, but it guilt can surface for many reasons. Guilt can hold you back whether it is justified or not, but you must deal with it to be set free of it.
I hoped this is a help and if you are needing anymore information don’t hesitate to contact me at this email firstname.lastname@example.org or CONTACT ME or you can SUBSCRIBE to my free newsletter.
By Lifecoach Mark Fennell