Everybody makes mistakes. Despite our best intentions, we all mess up. We hurt other people, we let ourselves down and we feel guilty for it. It’s part of being human. Guilt tells us when we’ve done something wrong and signals that we need to make it better.
However, sometimes guilty feelings spring up when they shouldn’t, driven by pressure from within ourselves and the world around us. And sometimes we hold on to guilt for too long. In either case, we use this long-lasting guilt to beat ourselves up and shape our inner dialogue, telling us we’re a failure, a disappointment, a bad person. This type of guilt can damage us from the inside out.
Instead of suffering from with guilt, it’s time to get rid of it. The first step to overcoming guilt is to identify it. What is the root cause of your guilty feelings? Sometimes there’s an emotional influence at play. It can be helpful to express your thoughts on paper and explore what’s really on your mind — is the guilt a cover for hurt, anger or regret? Is the guilt justified or misplaced?
Once you identify the guilt, you can determine if you really are guilty. If you’ve said something mean to your spouse or spread gossip about a colleague, then you’re feeling guilty because you’ve done something you shouldn’t have done and you’ve hurt someone else. In that case, it’s time to make amends. Apologize for your actions, learn from your mistakes and do something good next time.
Yet, not all types of guilt are overcome with an apology. There’s the guilt you feel because you work too late to make it to your kid’s soccer game or you don’t have as much time lately to socialize with your friends. Sure, you may be letting someone down but consider your intentions and stop being so hard on yourself. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t done or what you should do, think about all the things you do for your family and friends and write it down. When those guilty feelings resurface, take a look at your list and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
It can also help to consider your guilt from another person’s perspective. What would you say to a friend in your situation? Would you think their feelings of guilt are justified or would you tell them they’re being too hard on themselves? Remember to treat yourself with the same compassion you give to others.
Guilt can also be a deep-seated emotion stemming from past events. It may be something you did as a child or teen to hurt someone else or it could be guilt related to a trauma or painful experience. Often, this guilt is hardest to free yourself from, usually because it depends on self-forgiveness. You can’t beat yourself up for things you did or something that happened to you as a child. Your younger self didn’t have the tools and knowledge that your adult self has so you can’t judge your younger self through the same lens. Grant yourself forgiveness and give yourself permission to put the pain and guilt behind you.
No matter what causes your guilt, it can be overcome. Use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. It can reveal what’s important to you and help you do better in the future. Not everyone can get past guilt alone. Begin your healing journey with a spiritual advisor. Consult with a Zodiac Psychic to get started.