How To Deal With Guilt

man in black dress shirt with blue denim shirt sitting on black concrete bench near green plants

This post was inspired by one of the bloggers The Bipolar Gamer who had recently spoken up about his experience with guilt. How do we cope with guilt and why do we feel so? It is not to indicate that we are bad people on the contrary, and I will later explain why. Guilt can show up at our doors even when there is no reason for it. As if it were that spontaneous friend of ours who always comes uninvited. And I thought I didn’t have friends! Just kidding. Can we actually release guilt?

The moment you experience guilt, emotions may start filling you up like an empty cup and even though you are full, they continue to overflow you and now, imagine, you are swimming inside that cup, screaming and yelling for them to hear you but it so happens that emotions (if they were a person) are looking at a bird right outside of your window that is so beautiful in colors. Too beautiful to stop looking at it, so they keep pouring and pouring…

Do we need to feel guilty?

I found this video of a psychopath to be a good example of when someone doesn’t feel guilty or shows any remorse. Check it out before you jump into the the next section!

This video should demonstrate to you that by experiencing guilt we come to realize that our nature is disagreeing with what has occurred and our mind is puzzled trying to figure out how to escape this uncomfortable situation, going through all sorts of scenarios how this could’ve been avoided. In other words, it’s a self-conscious emotion.

Believe it or not, but we learn to make better decisions, better choices. We learn to trust ourselves and improve our interactions with people. We analyze behavioral patterns which, if done successfully, make us come to the conclusion whether we should feel guilty or not, to begin with. All of that thanks to this wonderful emotion.

I used to cry every time I remembered specific events from my past. Those which triggered guilt. I was able to release guilt only 15 years later. That is how long I carried it on my shoulders. It made me portray myself as a horrible person. Although, what I did was part of my unawareness of how my behavior could affect other people and what I should have done instead. When I felt guilty, it didn’t cross my mind to forgive myself. Was it worth it carrying the feeling for that long? I don’t think so, but better now then never.

Examples of guilt.

In instances we overlook other people’s feelings or emotions is when we tend to express no guilt and we go about our business. Is it better to live like that? I’d say no. Just like in the video with the psychopath, it made her life easier in a way but at the same time she had to realize that acting from pure reasoning like she did in the bike situation, could get her in trouble or cause a bigger issue. On top of that, she took someone’s belongings despite the fact that it was for a few hours only.

Oftentimes we tend to feel guilty when we think we don’t deserve something. We politely decline gifts, invitations, for example, believing someone else needs them more. Do they? As much as a hungry homeless person needs food is as much as everyone does. It may sound rough since they are in a critical situation but if you don’t eat, you’ll starve and die, so blaming yourself for someone not having food when you do doesn’t fix the issue with famine. You work for things you have. Remember that. You can also donate money to help people in need but feeling guilty for something you initially had no control over is a hard path to follow.

Comparing our lives to other people’s does not reflect the reality. Everyone’s reality is different, but considering what they are going through and how it affects them can be a strong indicator that you understand what I’m trying to say. You may find yourself helping those in need but you may be forgetting about yourself and that’s what you should look at while working on releasing guilt. Feeling unworthy is a problem that lies within. Low self-esteem and need for self-love can cause guilt.

How to deal with guilt (finally!)

Whether you feel guilty in a relationship or for making a mistake at work, put your “thinking cap” on and get to know “the root of the evil!”.

Here’s what you can do to release guilt:
  • Think of what kind of situation it is that made you feel guilty (write it down if you’d like)

Did you physically hurt someone?

Maybe you hurt someone’s feelings?

Did you steal something?

Do you believe you don’t deserve what you have but others do?

Do you feel guilty for having negative thoughts?

Did someone put blame on you for something you did or didn’t do?

Did someone judge you and now you’re questioning yourself?

  • Once you determine that, you need to try to accept guilt and the situation itself.

Sometimes we feel guilty for things that are out of our control. Yet we tend to place blame on ourselves when we should analyze the event instead. How it is affecting us or others. What could be done to fix the issue if there is one and then do our best to handle it. There is no reason to dwell on anything to the point you can’t function normally. It just depletes your energy. The sole purpose of any occurrence is to show you how many possibilities there are, positive or negative, and it is up to you to look at them and extract a lesson.

  • Can you give yourself a 2nd chance?

We forgive people when they make us feel uncomfortable. Can you forgive yourself too and try to work on improving the situation? If it is someone who you believe you need to ask for forgiveness instead, it is important to forgive yourself first and then talk to them.

Here is what made me realize I needed to take action.

My coworkers would have a bad day most of the time due to my inability to control my behavior. I was a walking bomb for a few years until I realized that not only had I been focused on my own problems but I was also ruining everyone’s day by consistently expressing negative emotions and even swearing. Eventually, I started feeling guilty. Well, that was after I quit my job. In two months I came back but to a different department. The department I had worked for didn’t want me back. What a surprise!

During that two-month period I was able to calm down and think more clearly. I understood how my behavior had influenced people. This realization allowed me to take a step further and apologize for being inconsiderate. Luckily, they forgave me and since then I have been trying to be observant and take enough time to make a decision or say something.

Notice how you talk to yourself.

  • Negative talk can push you down the rabbit hole. Make sure to watch where you’re going!

Do you ever notice what you say to yourself? If you do, how many times have you tried to oppose your own thoughts? It isn’t easy, yes. They are so convincing! They sure know how to make you believe in something because they are you and you are them. You become your thoughts whether they’re good or bad. There is an interesting quote by Henry Ford:

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you’re right.

© Henry Ford

That being said, give yourself enough time to build a strong foundation for practicing self-love. Once you feel more harmonious with your own self, you’ll be able to learn to be more compassionate to others, you’ll be able to understand them better and yourself, too. We shouldn’t forget about our lovely selves! Now, to actually forgive yourself you need to say it out loud. Then you’ll feel firm and confident in what you say. This should be your mini goal which will help you release guilt eventually. The more you do it, the more assertive it will be and you will reap the fruits of your labor. Believe you can do it!

Once you’ve thought this through, asked yourself for forgiveness and accepted guilt as your wonderful ability to distinguish good actions from the bad ones (this is subjective but I am using social standards by default), you are now on the path of becoming wise and treat these events as learning experiences, not as another opportunity to talk to yourself negatively.

I hope it helps! Thank you for your time. Stay tuned for more!

3 responses to “How To Deal With Guilt”

  1. […] How To Deal With Guilt […]

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  3. […] heart. I realized that I was insulting people’s intentions to convey a message all the time. It felt horrible! A year later my boss gave me an annual review. She said that I improved dramatically but there […]

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