Unless you’re a psychopath, you’re going to feel guilty about things at times. Things you do, even inadvertently, pull at your conscious and can make you cringe and feel extremely uncomfortable. But instead of wallowing in what you’ve done, if you choose to, there are things you can do to stop feeling guilty and learn from what you’re feeling guilty about.
What Failure and Guilt Have in Common
Failure and guilt are similar in some ways. They both are in the past and can be accompanied by feelings of shame. The difference is failure usually just impacts you. On the other hand, guilt is usually the result of harming somebody else.
With guilt, you’re not the only one that was potentially harmed, and it often includes people who are close to you. This is what can make guilt so painful.
Here’s what’s key. While it can make you feel uncomfortable, guilt is hardly fatal. And, like failure, there are things you can do to stop feeling guilty.
Here are 7 Ways to Stop Feeling Guilty and Move Forward With Your Life:
1. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel guilty?”
When feeling guilty, the first thing you need to do is look at why you’re feeling guilty.
Ask, “What did I do wrong?” A better question might be, “Did I really do anything wrong?
Imagine you were supposed to be at an important meeting that you missed because your car got a flat tire. Is this your fault? Of course not! Stop feeling guilty for things outside of your control.
On the other hand, if you missed the meeting because you forgot about it, got drunk and fell asleep on the couch, or lost track of time, you should feel guilty!
2. Decide on how to respond when you are responsible.
Next, you need to move yourself out of guilt. You do this by responding appropriately.
This might and often does include an apology. A lot of times a detailed explanation of why you did what you did will help.
To make sure your transgression doesn’t happen again, you can develop a plan and share it with the person you offended. This is taking responsibility for what you did to the next level.
You can also make it up to the other person by doing something nice, like watching your spouse’s favorite show for the next month or taking your son to the movies.
3. Forgive yourself.
When dealing with others we all make mistakes. You can either keep beating yourself up or you can forgive yourself. Once you forgive yourself, the guilt is gone.
Imagine that the mistake you made happened to you. Would you hold on to the mistake they made or would you forgive them? You’d probably forgive the other person without too much fuss, right?
Treat yourself the same!
Is often much easier for you to forgive someone else than it is for you to forgive you. Instead of beating yourself up, treat yourself like you are the best friend you’ll ever have and forgive yourself.
4. Send a note.
You can send a note to yourself, to the person you harmed, or both. No one sends notes or letters anymore. This is what makes them so meaningful.
Sending a note is a great way to purge your thoughts and your guilt. It can also clear the air with the other person, making you both feel a lot better.
5. Make a Change
If you keep making the same mistakes you will continue to feel guilty. Rather than feeling guilt, which helps no one, think about and make some changes to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again.
Ask yourself, “What can I do to change this? Should i eliminate a bad habit, procrastinate less, or get more organized? Do i need to value the opinions of others more?”
Are there some changes you can make that could eliminate the cause of your guilt? Figure them out and make that change!
6. Get over it!
No matter what it was, at some point, you have to let go of what happened. This is the only way to get on with your life.
What value is there to hold on to guilt? None at all!
If you’re feeling guilty you probably made a mistake. Learn from it and grow and then move on!
7. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Where does guilt reside? In your past.
When you practice mindfulness, you are residing in the present. The present is the only place where you can change things and make your life better.
Another advantage of living in the present is you are more aware of your actions and how they affect other people. This will help you reduce the mistakes that make you feel guilty!
By living in the present, you are taking actions that will allow you to feel good about yourself and the world around you. For more information about mindfulness check out Modern Mindfulness: A Beginners Guide on How to Find Peace and Happiness in a Busy World
You Can Stop Feeling Guilty!
Every one of us has felt the pain of guilt. While you don’t want to just bury it, it’s important that you let go of feeling guilty. It’s the only way you can get on with your life.
Instead of holding on to the guilt, resolve the issue as well as you can, forgive yourself, make amends, and then move on. There’s zero value in beating yourself up for extended periods of time.
You made a mistake, you’re human. Now your job is to do the best you can to fix it.
It’s time to set yourself free of guilt. Use these tips starting today to allow yourself to stop feeling guilty.