Guilt is one of the most powerful, strongest and the most difficult emotions to overcome in life. No matter where we are, no matter what we do – there are these small things we would have felt guilty about. We are lucky to have been able to put a few behind us, but there are a few of them which continue to haunt us and sometimes they tend to do so terribly.
Before we start calling it names, guilt is a really good thing, it helps us to stay in the moral code we define for ourselves and to set up standards for our lives. It really hurts us when we slip from it and we wonder what to do about it. The first and foremost thing we try is to of course make amends and make it right. Sometimes we are not so blessed with that opportunity.
In such a case, here are 9 simple and effective tips to overcoming guilt in life.
Overcoming Guilt: Why, What and How?
As you know, we always start with questions in inspire99 because that is where we believe all the answers are.
Find out the exact reason about what is making you feel guilty. What is the emotion here – is it of regret, is it of something you did or did not do. What aspect of that emotion is this guilt digging up?
Not that we want you to feel bad about things any more, but we really want to know the exact reason for guilt. Sometimes we are so close to things that we tend to take up responsibility for things on which we do not really have any control. It helps to identify the exact reason and no better questions than the Why, what and How?!
Overcoming Guilt: Can you correct it?
After the first question, we look at the utility of it. We know that a mistake has happened, the question next is what to do next, what to do about it. The utilitarian theory talks about finding the solution to a problem and if you don’t find a solution – then what is the point worrying about it?
Theoretically it is all perfect, but we do know it is quite not the same, don’t we? It is not always the easiest thing to let go, especially if there is something you can do about it or at least for sure know that there is really nothing you can do about it.
Although it is very easy to use this as a good reason to escape from responsibility, I think it is a personal call and our personal standards which come to rescue here.
Overcoming Guilt: Apologise Genuinely
It is indeed ‘common sense’ to say you are sorry. Most times it so happens that people say they are sorry, but it is very easy to identify whether they truly mean it or not. It is far more annoying when people don’t mean what they say. Sometimes silence is better than a fake apology. We did talk about 8 ways to make your apology in our previous post which you might find helpful.
Yeah! An apology is not the easiest thing to do sometimes. It is because we have to accept that we were wrong and genuinely feel sorry for it and see if there was a way we could fix it. Sometimes we cannot find the solution, a better thing to do is ask them if there is a way we could make up for it. And more often than not, there usually is a way out :). If not at the first instance, maybe the second – people are usually more forgiving than we think.
Overcoming Guilt: Confess!
I have heard – Confession is good for the soul. I am not too sure how soulful I am to talk about it, but I do realise that confession makes our heart lighter, it makes us feel responsible and grow beyond the mistake we have done towards the amends we can do towards it. Confession is not something we do as a fix, but sometimes it is a little selfish thing to do because we want liberation from our own internal moral policing which makes us feel wrong and horrible about ourselves.
I agree that it is not very easy to talk to people when you confess – do it any way. I know that it is easy to text about it, but then you will never know that the other person feels when they read it or know about it. Just because it is easy for us doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right thing nor does it mean that it will liberate us from the feeling of guilt.
Overcoming Guilt: Forgive yourself
It is perhaps an easier thing to get pardon from the society, from the people we love and even the people we hate. They all satisfy the emptiness to a certain extent and so do we to them, but do we feel liberated? Do we feel a weight lifted off our shoulders?
Well, perhaps it takes a little more than that. For us, the guilt is not just because we wronged someone, it is also because we did not live up to our own standards. We have to however understand that it is alright to make some mistakes some times. It is not just about making a mistake, it is how we conduct ourselves after that. It is easy to be lost in beating ourselves up, but that gets us nowhere near the solution of overcoming guilt. The first step has to be forgiveness and forgiveness from self is quite an accomplishment indeed.
Overcoming Guilt: Do something to make the person feel better
Actions always speak louder than words. There are a hundred ways to show your love to someone than just telling that you love them. There are many ways you can show how important a person is for you and what that relationship means to you. It may seem like a cheesy way if you are looking at it as an opportunity to get forgiveness. It is not, it need not be, it is just an opportunity to show how much that person means to you and that is it!
Overcoming Guilt: Realize you are rectifying your mistake.
Acknowledge the fact that you are making an effort to set things right. You might have made a mistake at some point in your life. You are not that person anymore, you have grown from that, you have moved on from that.
Realize that for yourself, identify and acknowledge. There is no better apology than growth.
Overcoming Guilt:Remember there is no perfection- everybody makes mistakes
It is natural to err, it makes you more human and that is the way it is going to be. If you keep feeling bad for every imperfect thing you did in your life, you will keep feeling bad for the rest of your life. Forget the cloak of perfection, Man up to the mistake and figure a way out. Don’t dwell in the negative thought and its pain, no good is going to come out of it.
Overcoming Guilt: Make peace with yourself
One of the reasons we rate guilt as a tough emotion is the fact that it keeps pushing us away from inside, it keeps resurfacing every now and then. Sometimes we may need to find ways to suppress it, sometimes to work with it and sometimes to appreciate it.
Most importantly, it is about making peace with your own self, being ok with it, trying to find ways to do the same. For an error is an error and its consequences hurt you as long as you let them. Find a way to deal with it constructively and you have answered yourself the broader question!
These were our top tips to overcoming guilt, we would love to discuss further. Please do let us know your thoughts below.
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