Feel Better About Yourself by Leaving the Burden of “Guilt” Behind
Some days, do you have trouble shaking the guilt?
Not the guilt of breaching the law or of committing an offense, guilt that comes in the third definition by Webster of the word – “the feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.”
Was I present with my family? Do my friends feel that I am caring & supportive? Is my dog getting what she needs? Do my customers feel well cared for and supported? What about my own health?
Why do I have the guilt when from the time I awake to the time I rest my head when I don’t stop?
Not an easy question to answer!
Only sociopaths are able to completely avoid guilt. Feelings of guilt are distressing and draining. There doesn’t seem to be a cure.
Sometimes we commit to a new goal, project or life change and we have trouble being consistent and staying with the plan. Should we feel guilty or grateful that we have identified what and where, but the path is paved with many twists and turns that we decide to throw our hands up and just quit? Don’t let guilt or a sense of failure to determine your path. Try these strategies.
Understand your guilt with these strategies:
- Determine if you should feel guilty. Whose standards are you using? Your parents’? Your own? Your faith’s? Can you be sure the source is correct? Ensure that you’re judging yourself by a set of standards you deem to be worthy. It’s your choice. For example: If your family owns a dog, is it always your responsibility to walk, feed and care for the dog (vet, grooming, medications, licenses)? If you don’t feel like walking the dog, do you feel guilty because the dog is obviously helpless? Do you communicate this to the other family members, and can they share in the responsibility to eliminate the guilt or do you just boil inside and not share in your feelings?
- Learn from it. Why do you feel guilty? Do you have a sense of feeling inadequate? Once you know why you feel guilty, you’re able to benefit from it. Visualize yourself behaving in a new and improved manner.
- Sometimes guilt is unproductive. Imagine that you feel guilty about missing your child’s play because you were required to work (you must work to provide for your family – it’s not like you are goofing off). Maybe you believe that a good parent should do certain things, but you don’t or can’t do them. Try to be realistic. If you did everything within your power, there’s no benefit to feeling guilty. What can you do next time? Will there be a dress rehearsal? Can you go to play practices? Can you talk to your boss about it? Be creative!
- Accept that you feel guilty. Acknowledge your feelings and the pain that goes with them. Realize that it will pass. This step is important because you cannot let the feelings fester inside of you. It will create stress on your body, more mind games and this can impact your health negatively.
- Forgive yourself. You can forgive yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself. No one is perfect. Learn from the experience, don’t look back and move forward.
- Let it go. At that point, what purpose does your guilt serve? Take a deep breath, let it out, and move on. Keep your mind occupied with more productive thoughts.
- Have gratitude. Rather than saying to yourself, “I should not be so hard on myself and communicate my feelings to my family and friends.”, tell yourself, “I’m grateful I’ve learned the importance of not putting pressure on myself.” Negative experiences can still be worthy of gratitude.
You’re not alone in feeling guilty. Some people spend a lifetime wallowing in guilt. How long you feel guilty is up to you. Learn from your lessons and go forward with a new perspective and strategy.
The real shame is repeating behavior that results in guilt. Avoid repeating your mistakes and be gentle with yourself. Practice making the choice that doesn’t result in guilt. The more you practice, the more healthy choices you’ll make, and the less guilt you’ll experience.
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