Dealing with guilt can be difficult especially if you have a habit of being a people pleaser and this emotion also has a serious connection to anxiety and depression. It plays a big role in the anxiety and depression that many people feel. For many, it may even be the cause of it.
What Causes Guilt?
When we don't live up to our own expectations or the expectations of others, many of us have a tendency to feel guilty.
Many people think that guilt is brought on by other people. It's important to realize that guilt comes from within yourself and only yourself.
It is your internal self talk about yourself and your situation that contributes to feeling guilty.
If someone says something negative about you or something you did or didn't do, isn't it up to you whether you accept what is being said?
The truth is, you have the power to accept or deny feelings of guilt. If someone is making you feel guilty, it is because you are allowing them to.
What About Justified Feelings of Guilt?
Of course, there are times when feelings of guilt are justified. We are not perfect. We all make mistakes! If you have done something wrong to another, it is important to make amends as best as you can. Forgive yourself even if the other person cannot forgive you. Remember, forgiveness helps to release feelings of guilt. You have complete freedom to release yourself from any further guilt by forgiving yourself.
Recognizing Unjustified Guilt
It's important to recognize guilt that is unjustified. Unjustified guilt is guilt that has no real actual cause. Instead, these feelings of guilt are caused by misbeliefs inside the individual. Perhaps a person does not feel it's okay to spend time or money on themselves. Or perhaps they are feeling guilty because they don't believe they have the right to say no to other people. So many people make decisions in life based on not wanting to feel guilty inside. Making decisions based on guilt is never productive. It may temporarily provide relief from guilty feelings, but one thing is for sure, you will end up feeling depressed and incomplete because you are not being true to yourself.
What Are You Thinking?
It's important to do a personal assessment to find the thoughts that are causing you to feel guilt. Many people are already aware of the thoughts that consume their minds each day, while others may have no clue. It may take some time to find exactly what thoughts are contributing to this self-defeating emotion. Taking time each day to write down your thoughts through journaling is an extremely effective way in helping you to target negative thought patterns.
When you know what thoughts are contributing to your guilt, you will be more able to overcome them through positive thought replacement.
Productive Ways for Dealing with Guilt
1. If you have wronged someone, do your best to make amends. Then choose to forgive yourself. Yes, forgiveness is a choice. Sometimes you need to choose this day to day until you finally feel released from that emotion. Then make the choice to move on. You don't need to punish yourself by living in guilt for something you are truly sorry for.
2. It's okay to say no to people without feeling guilty. Say no when you want to say no. Say yes only when you want to say yes. Doing things because you are pressuring yourself will only cause resentment in the end. You are allowed to say no and you don't even need to explain why.
3. Spend less time worrying about what others think about you. You can never control how other people think. People will always think what they want anyways. What matters most is what you think about yourself. Be true to yourself and then you will be true to others around you. People will take notice and respect you for that.
4. Practice Acceptance! Take time each day accepting yourself as you are. This means accepting your imperfections and all. Guilt cannot exist when you are accepting of yourself.
5. Practice a new habit of thinking! Remember, overcoming habitual guilt takes practice. Breaking bad habits takes some time. So be patient with yourself. Encourage yourself daily.