Whether or not one thinks about his guilt feelings every minute of every day, the results produced by it are toxic. It will inevitably result in anxiety, depression, and fatigue. No one can live a happy, satisfying life when these painful feelings are bottled up inside of him.
Some people hold on to guilt feelings believing that the amount of guilt they have represents their level of thoughtfulness and caring. That assumption could not be farther from the truth. Think about it this way; would you want someone you love and care about to suffer guilt feelings over something he may or may not have done to you? Guilt is self-punishment. Our friends and loved ones would never want us to inflict that kind of pain upon ourselves.
Often times we may feel guilty and obsess over something we said or did. We believe others hold it against us or judge us. In many cases other people did not even notice our words or actions, quickly forgot about them, or were not the least bit affected by them. Still we punish ourselves and may carry that baggage throughout our entire life, never knowing that the only person we ever hurt was ourselves.
When your actions come from a place of goodness and love but are received by another in a way you never intended, that is not your fault and you should not feel guilty.
If someone makes you feel guilty it is only because you have allowed him to. It is your decision whether you will accept or deny guilt feelings, forgive or not forgive yourself, and whether you will focus on the present or the past.
It is your life and you choose how to live it. Do you want to live by other’s expectations of you? Do you really need everyone else’s approval of what you do?
No living person can rightfully judge another because no one is perfect. You will make yourself crazy if you try to live by others’ standards. Furthermore, you cannot possibly control the way others think. Everyone has a different reality. No two people experience life the same way. Opinions are just opinions, they are not absolute truths.
Your life is your unique reality. Do not waste your time trying to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to say no to things you do not want to do and to be brave enough to make unpopular choices without feeling guilty.
Ask yourself why you may easily offer kindness and compassion to others but not to yourself. Would you ever dream of causing someone else to feel as bad as you are making yourself feel? The goal is to be as gentle with yourself as you are to others.
You must be your own best friend. That means overcoming the need to self-punish. Self-love and self-acceptance are specific choices you must make every day.
Since guilt has become a programmed, automatic response for you, you cannot change what you are doing until you become aware that you are doing it. In order to break the cycle of guilt you have, know what thoughts keep you stuck in the pattern. Then acknowledge and change the self-defeating, self-abusive, or distorted messages in your head.
If you tend to be too hard on yourself, ask yourself the following questions: “Must everything I do be done to perfection? What will happen if I do make a mistake? Will the result of my misjudgment or my mistake cause irreparable harm?”
If you find yourself asking these questions, most likely you are someone who takes responsibility for your actions. You are most likely someone who would never deliberately set out to hurt another.
Now ask yourself three more questions. “Are the demands I make of myself unreasonable? Do I have to be the perfect parent, spouse, or friend? Do I know anyone who is the perfect parent, spouse, or friend?”
If you have truly wronged someone, accept what you have done, express your remorse, and then do your best to make amends. After you have said you are sorry, do not punish yourself with guilt. That is useless. Once you have made amends, make a pact with yourself to never do it again and then allow yourself to move on.
If you have acted out in anger and regret it, say you are sorry and then let it go. If you have made mistakes raising your children, tell them what you believe you did wrong and what you would do if you could do it over. Then be the best parent you know how to be from that point on.
You cannot go back and fix the past but you can use better judgment in the future. Guilt accomplishes nothing; it does not change anything. Actions do.
If guilt has long been part of your personal truths, it is time to replace it with a new truth—one that involves loving yourself.
It does not matter what others think of you as long as you know you are living a genuine, honest, and loving life. In all your endeavors that is what truly matters.
Continued from Living a Guilt-Free Life
“A Better Me” By TRF_Mr_Hyde on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved
“Love Yourself” By rick on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved
“Swallowed In The Sea” By Kelly B. on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved
“Forgive Yourself” By pasa47 on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved