Guilt is a feeling of remorse, worry sadness or unhappiness because you have done something wrong like causing harm to others. It is a familiar feeling of emotional distress that signals when our actions might have caused physical or emotional damage to another person.
Guilt acts like a moral compass; it prompts us to reflect on the consequences of our actions and then makes constructive changes. But sometimes this feeling does not go away. It settles in our life and starts eating your self-esteem and affecting the general quality of your life.
Dealing with guilt is not easy; it is like living in hell. It can make you avoid specific opportunities because you think you don’t deserve them. If you are in a situation where you are avoiding certain people or situations because they trigger memories of guilt and shame, then I believe it is time to find a way on how to cope with your condition.
Check out some ways on how to stop feeling guilty below;
Identify the cause(s) of your problem
The first step on how to get rid of guilt is to identify what triggers it. Why do you feel guilty? Is it because you are cheating? Is it because you are privileged, or you are spending too much. This is a simple question to answer; if it is happening, then there is a cause. After identifying the reason, the next step is to find a way of preventing it. If you feel guilty because you eat a lot of food, for example, you need to reduce that. If you are cheating, then it is time to stop. Sometimes, we become guilty because of the things we can’t control. Like you can’t control feeling guilty because you are gay or get good grades in school. If this is the case, the solution is just to accept who you are and love yourself. Trust me this works.
Most people feel guilty when they have to lie about something or hide certain information about something they did. As I write, I must admit that there is a time I took credit for someone’s work, and I can’t even bring myself to express the guilt I felt. If you have cheated on your spouse and the shame is eating you alive, perhaps coming out and confessing your crime might help get over your condition. Remember, being honest may not go down so well with the other party, but you’re doing this for yourself and not them. Confessing your crimes is like relieving a heavy load from your soul.
If you know that you really messed up someone’s feelings and that is affecting you psychologically, then perhaps it is time you asked the person to forgive you. Asking for forgiveness is not a sign of weakness; in fact, it shows a strength in your character. If you wrongfully accused someone of something they didn’t do and that injured their reputation, then you should apologize to them and declare the truth in public. The fact that you acknowledge your wrongs and are ready to go the extra mile of asking for forgiveness is the best way of overcoming guilt. You should understand that apologizing does not guarantee the other party will accept your apologies.
Accept your failures
We all make mistakes. The difference is that some of us choose to accept our mistakes and move on while others decide to ignore it or blame the reasons for certain things, and this is what triggers guilt. Remember that no one is perfect and feeling guilty changes nothing, it just makes things worse. Wise people learn from their mistakes. You can do this by reflecting on what went wrong and find a way to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Forgiveness is a way of releasing your guilt and finding a way to leave the past behind. Studies have found out that it is forgiveness and not guilt that increases accountability. Taking a self-compassionate view of a personal failure makes people more likely to take responsibility for the problem than when they take a self-critical point of view. This will also allow you to receive feedback and advice from others.
Forgiving yourself is different from asking for forgiveness from another person because you have no control over other people’s thoughts and actions. Still, you can control the blame you are putting on yourself. To do this, you accept that what you did was wrong, and it will never happen again. You can do this by writing a letter to yourself. In the letter, tell yourself what went wrong and that you have chosen to forgive yourself and move on.
Never regret your choices but learn from them.
Remember yesterday will never come back and there is no need for you to feel awful about the decision you made because you can’t overturn them. We live life going forward, and the choices you make today are the reason you are in this position now. The only thing you can do is learn from the past and ensure you don’t repeat it tomorrow. Feeling remorseful is never a solution, it has never worked, and it won’t start to.
Do something positive
Sometimes a change can be all you need to overcome your guilt. Are you a good writer? Try writing a journal. This is the best way to release your emotions. Write about guilt and how you overcame it. You can also try engaging in community service or do something that will make someone smile. This is doing something positive in your life. Try to make an impact on one’s life and see what consequences such actions will have on your life.
Talk to someone
Sometimes you need someone’s opinion. Talk to someone you trust about your condition and listen to what they have to say about it. I don’t mean you should follow all the advice given to you. Getting another opinion may be an eye-opener. It will be easy to know what is causing your problem after that and how you can avoid it. But if your condition is causing you great harm to a point where you are developing depression, then it is time you talked to a therapist. There is a person who is an expert in guilt psychology and will offer professional help.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with feeling guilty. Guilt makes us human. It jolts us back to reality when we go astray. Do not feel embarrassed or feel you are a lesser person because you are ashamed of your actions. Your guilt only becomes an issue if it affects the way you relate with other people.