Many people think that guilt is a natural experience. It’s a familiar experience, but it’s not healthy or productive. It serves no constructive purpose. Guilt is an emotional state where we experience conflict at having done something that we believe we should not have done (or conversely, having not done something we believe we should have done). This can give rise to a feeling state which does not go away easily and can be difficult to endure. If you are experiencing feelings of guilt you are likely to be focussing on something that you have done that is embarrassing, harmful to another person, or some other behaviour which has contributed to negative consequences for you or someone else. Sometimes this feeling of guilt can become so big that you may feel overwhelmed and do not have a way to manage the intensity of your feelings.
Here are a few tips on dealing with guilt that you make find useful :
- Don’t 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.
- Forgive yourself – 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.
- Accept you were wrong – The more you focus on the fact that you did something wrong, the more it will bother you and interfere in your life.
- Seek professional help – If you feel like your guilt is more than you can handle, like if it is nor possible to resolve your guilty feelings with the person who was harmed, it may be time to speak with a professional.
- Keep track of your guilt – Keep a daily journal. 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.
- You’re not supposed to be perfect – The key to realising 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.
- Check your behaviour – Is your gut causing you to feel stress, anxiety, or depression? If so, how are these additional feelings manifesting in your behaviour?
- Focus on now – You have control over how you are acting and feeling right now, and there is no use in adding more despair to your life.
- Be mindful – When you are practising mindfulness, you are living in the moment. 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.
- Let it go – 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. Recognise the negative consequences of holding onto the past and just let it go.