Guilt can take over your life and prevent you from following your dreams. Let’s learn how to stop feeling guilty and break free!
Guilt comes in so many forms, and from several different stressors. Guilt can be the correct emotional response to something you’ve done wrong, or it can be a result of mental distress from a disorder. Whatever it may be, learning how to stop feeling guilty is key. You can’t feel bad forever, after all.
What is guilt?
As I said, guilt is defined in different ways. While healthy guilt comes from making mistakes and causing others problems, unhealthy guilt comes from a negative state of mind, and we have to learn how to stop feeling guilty about these things.
Although this negative mindset can be changed, it’s easier said than done. Regardless, here are a few ways to how to stop feeling guilty and set yourself free.
1. Appreciate yourself
Whether your guilt comes from healthy or unhealthy thoughts, make sure you do one important thing first: Love yourself. No matter how much you have neglected something, you still have to appreciate the things that you’ve done right.
Now, I’m not saying that wronging someone is okay because it’s definitely not. It’s just not unforgivable in the plan of moving on. Recognize what you’ve done wrong, but remember to keep a healthy self-image pertaining to what you can do better.
2. Recognize your true emotions
Sometimes guilt covers up how you really feel about a person or situation. If you know the person is suffering from a personality disorder themselves, then you know their accusations or “guilt trips” may not be legitimate.
Maybe you hold resentment toward what the other person is saying about you. Maybe they want you to feel guilty when you really have no reason to. Maybe you should be angry and stand up for yourself instead. Just make sure you analyze the situation well before claiming responsibility.
3. Tell the whole truth
According to research done by the American Psychological Association, telling partial truth caused worse feelings of guilt than actually telling a complete lie. In other words, lying wasn’t as detrimental as leaving out parts of the explanation.
Now, I’m definitely not advocating lies, heaven forbid, but I am advocating telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth instead. This is definitely one way to decrease feelings of guilt.
4. Just do better
If you know you should be doing better when it comes to responsibilities or jobs, then it’s your place to improve that. Feelings of guilt do arise when you know you’ve not done your best. These are healthy guilt feelings designed to help you continue making improvements within yourself. Pay close attention to these feelings as they will make you a better person in the long run.
5. Take care of yourself
On the other spectrum, you may be exhibiting guilty feelings for things you should not feel bad about. Maybe you are used to taking care of sick family members or friends in need, and thus, neglecting self-care. Suddenly, you decide to do something for yourself, and yet, you feel guilty. These feelings have been ingrained in you by years of selfless duty. This is unhealthy guilt which should be weeded out immediately so you can do more for yourself.
Remember, in order to love or take care of another, you must first love and take care of yourself. If you don’t do this, eventually, you will suffer emotionally, mentally, and physically. Then you will be unable to help anyone with their issues.
6. Stop “all or nothing” thinking
Stop thinking that things must be in “black and white”. This means you shouldn’t think you are a bad person just because you aren’t perfect. Guilt sometimes comes to us when our spouse or parent criticizes our ways. When we demand things be different, we are often made into enemies.
Instead of feeling bad for demanding better treatment, we should weigh things and look at them in context. There is no “black and white” in any sort of relationship. Yes, guilt can be a good thing to have at times in order to keep us doing better, but it can be unhealthy and cripple our self-esteem as well. Be careful, and even embrace the gray areas.
7. Gather evidence
Try asking people you think you’ve wronged if they feel neglected or abused. If they tell you that you’re worrying too much about the situation, then maybe you are.
Never take on guilt that isn’t rightfully yours. If the other party seems okay and fine, then maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. It’s always a good thing to ask and investigate.
8. Recognize overthinking
People who suffer from anxiety will overthink all sorts of situations. They will even find guilt in events that have nothing to do with them at all. When someone acts a little different, they assume it’s because of something they’ve said or done. Truth is, they don’t even remember what that thing is.
9. Take a step back
Maybe you should just take a step back. Separating yourself from the situation or problem which inflames your guilt can help you see a bit better. A new perspective can often time help us see the validity in how we feel.
It also calms any negative feelings that might be connected to the thing we feel guilty about. Time can also be a great healer in itself.
Of course, meditation helps us with feelings of guilt, be it healthy or unhealthy feelings. Sometimes, when stepping away from the problem, we can also take time to empty our minds of all concerns.
No, this doesn’t mean we are shirking all responsibility, it just means we care enough about ourselves to encourage our mental and emotional health. We can pair meditation with aromatherapy as well, to enhance feelings of relaxation.
How to stop feeling guilty? Just let it go
We aren’t perfect, none of us. Some of us even deal with additional negative factors, such as mental illness and this also makes things tougher to understand. When feelings of guilt arise, keep this in mind: Tomorrow is a new day, and whatever has happened will be healed. Nothing, even the darkest of days, lasts forever. Learning how to stop feeling guilty is just a process of letting go.
I hope that whatever’s holding you back can remove its claws so you can relinquish your mind. I speak freedom into your life, with the ability to help others do the same. Until next time, I wish you happy and healthy thinking.
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