There are many reasons why you are suffering from feelings of guilt. It could be due to some event, situation, or person. Some people, for instance, suffer from “Survivor Guilt.” This is when someone who survived an accident or situation feels guilty about surviving when others couldn’t survive. In all types of guilt, it is wise to look for some Tips for Dealing with Guilt.
It’s common to feel guilty about actions you consider ethically wrong. This type of guilt usually comes with shame. Instead of admitting & apologizing for your actions, you hide them for shame. Some people would rather live with continuous guilt than admit their faults. This may be because they are ashamed of the truth.
Tips for Dealing with Guilt
1. Acknowledge Its Existence
Sometimes guilt can stay concealed underneath symptoms like anxiety, stress, or insomnia. This can make it tough to find out what’s really bothering you. Recognizing whether guilt is the root cause of these hardships can explain the situation & help you to figure out the next steps you must take.
Admit everyone makes mistakes; guilt feeling is just a byproduct of it. If you have committed some errors & have guilty feelings about them, hiding them will only make it worse & those symptoms will worsen. Heartily acknowledge it exists.
2. Try To Find The Roots
Another Tips for Dealing with Guilt is finding its roots. Think clearly about what actions, events, or situations make you feel that way. Consider how you would have reacted or responded to that situation & why you failed to do so. Don’t beat yourself up; try to be compassionate, as you might be a victim of that situation, too.
Finding the roots can help you analyze the situation that makes you feel that way. Make sure that no one has manipulated the situation or manipulated you right now. Some tricky people can lead you to a guilt trip for their advantage. Don’t let that happen.
If you ever feel that somebody is manipulating you, you can shake off the guilt. It’s their fault, not yours. Finding the roots can help you to see more clearly.
3. Think About The Lessons You’ve Learned
If you have hurt someone with your actions or made bad decisions, think about the lessons the outcomes taught you. Let’s assume you insulted a friend unwillingly in a fit of rage. Even if you apologize for your behavior, your friend might still think they no longer want you to be their friend.
The lesson here might be that just because you can’t control your anger & emotions, and you should try to check on them seriously. It might cost you a good relationship.
The next time you feel the urge to do something that feels morally & emotionally wrong, remember the outcomes of your past behavior. Reflecting on the lessons you have learned is an excellent answer to How to Stop Feeling Guilty.
4. Do Something Positive
Remember in Avengers’ End Game (2019), Tony Stark literally burnt his midnight oil to figure out a way of time travel? It is because he felt guilty about Peter Parker. Though he initially denied any help to Steve Rogers, he still did it.
All of that is because he wanted to get rid of the guilt feeling caused by Peter turning to dust. You might try to do that. No, you don’t need to invent time travel, but you can do something positive.
For example, if you are feeling guilty about not helping a poor homeless person, you can try to arrange a charity or drive. If you feel guilty about hitting a stray dog with your car, you can take the initiative to treat stray animals.
If you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your deceased mother, you can volunteer in a nursing home. These small but positive actions will fill your heart with warmth & satisfaction of being of service to others.
5. Eradicate Negative Self-Talk
Though guilt can trigger positive action, it can also cause you to associate your behavior with your identity. This can cause incorrect self-assessment & negative self-talk like “I’m a bad person” or “I can’t do anything properly.” Keep in mind that though the behavior or action may have been less than perfect, it doesn’t describe who you are.
Even people we consider to be role models have made several mistakes, as mistakes are an avoidable part of human nature. You can’t let some unfortunate actions or events define you. While you are feeling guilty, it is natural to indulge in those negative self-talk. Remember, they are doing no good & they are just spoiling your mood & spirit. It is unwise to entertain them.
6. Remind Yourself About Your Positive Actions
In this life, you make some mistakes. You must have also taken some good decisions or actions. When feeling guilty, it is hard to remember your positive actions. So, make a list. List every good deed of yours, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Be it feeding a homeless older man, helping a woman rescue her kitten, or fixing the bike of a sad kid.
Go through that list over & over again & try to remember those incidents. Try to remember the faces & joy of the people you helped & their reactions & blessings. That is what you truly are. These positive actions define who you are & your core values. If you want to come out of the darkness of guilt feelings, you must light the torch of your positive deeds.
7. Develop Your Self-Esteem
Guilt is connected with shame, & shame causes low self-esteem. By forgiving yourself, you can conquer both guilt & shame. It’s easy to demean yourself, & feelings of guilt frequently fuel these negative thoughts.
You must develop your self-esteem to stop feeling guilty. Self-esteem & self-compassion go together. If you want to start feeling positive about yourself, allow yourself some compassion. This will enhance your self-worth & self-esteem.
8. Seek Professional Help
These guilt feelings are often rooted very deep down. Often it becomes almost impossible to determine by ourselves. In such cases, we must seek some professional help. If the guilt is upsetting your daily life & making you feel stressed & depressed, talk to a professional. Don’t let guilt control your life. Asking for help is a great way to combat that negative feeling.
What is Defined as Toxic Guilt?
Toxic guilt is a kind of guilt that doesn’t motivate you to make positive changes. A recent study implies that guilt can increase past guilt-inducing events & become comprehensive to its whole self. This means that you may start feeling bad about yourself rather than just feeling regretful about your behavior.
Additionally, toxic guilt can arise from the incapability to manage guilty feelings & from guilt other people may put on you. You may have toxic guilt if you often find yourself letting guilt direct your choices or behaviors. In that case, some Tips for Dealing with Guilt can be helpful.
Q: Is guilt feeling totally unnatural thing?
A: Humans, often animals, feel guilt for our actions, events, or situations. However, being fixated on it is not healthy.
Q: How can guilt affect us?
A: Continuous guilt feeling can cause stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue & many more.
Q: Is there any books to find Tips for Dealing with Guilt?
A: Fortunately, there are many books on that topic. Here are some:
- It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn.
- The Deepest Well by Nadine Burke Harris.
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk.
- Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw.