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Monday, October 24, 2011

Dealing with Guilt

Yesterday I had a situation that left me feeling incredibly guilty. I couldn't eat and went to bed with a pounding headache, the kind that hurts so bad you can't sleep. And I knew, I knew it was something I should just let go of. But knowing something is easy. Doing it is something else entirely.

The interesting thing about guilt is, it's a safety mechanism. It's the equivalent of putting the hand on the stove and feeling the burn. The pain keeps you from doing it again. Guilt is meant to keep us from doing something harmful or bad again.

However, guilt sometimes becomes a problem of its own. Sometimes we feel guilty when it's not our fault. Sometimes we feel guilty for something we've already apologized for, something the other party has forgotten. Sometimes we feel guilty for being happy or having good things in our lives.

 I'm not talking about when we still  need to take he steps of apologizing, righting wrongs, and all that stuff. I'm talking about when that has been done or doesn't apply, yet we still feel guilty. This is not a healthy guilt, and we need to be able to let it go. The consequences of not letting go can be short-term, like a bad taste in your mouth, or long-term, like health problems. So we know it's something we need to do. The question is, how?

First: Understand what's causing these feelings. Pinpoint the exact action/moment that caused the stress. For me it helps to reason it out with a friend. Talk to people about your feelings. You want people who will help you understand why you feel this way and move past it.

Second: Stop feeding the negative energy. If you're having a hard time getting the actions surrounding the guilt out of your head, start thinking about positive actions you've done. Watch an uplifting movie.

Third: Make a plan for the future. Often the guilt is caused by something that could've been avoided. What's done is done. Going over how you will react differently in the future may be enough to alleviate the pains you have now.

Fourth: Forgive yourself. Recognize that you're not perfect, that you don't have to be, and sometimes you're going to make mistakes. It's okay.

I found this quote on aspirenow.blogspot.com:
Another form of guilt happens when someone was overbearing with us. In that situation, we may feel guilty that we didn't do what they wanted. More likely, we might feel guilt over allowing them to dominate us. After all, we have our own inner voice. Can't we listen to that and heed the call? We think these thoughts, and they create guilt within us. This guilt will also built up pain in your body. Let it go. You cannot control what other people do. You did what you did, the past is the past. Leave it there. Some people want to be dominated, others like dominating, and it isn't the end of the world. Just reclaim who you are, let your shoulders be strong and back again, and let your guilt go free. You'll feel better when you do.
I like this quote because it is pretty much exactly what happened with me last night. I felt pressured into doing something, and I felt guilty for saying no. And then I felt guilty for giving in and saying I would do it. How's that for confusion? But apparently this is normal. And I love what it says. So, for number five.

Fifth: Reclaim who you are, let your shoulders be strong and back again, and let your guilt go free.
The bottom line is: Let it go.

Any other advice for dealing with guilt?

4 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! Hope you feel better soon. It's never a good idea to let guilt consume you.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Stina Oh, I'm feeling great. I've learned how to deal with it. :) Thanks though!

Julie Daines said...

As I read this, I'm hearing Linkin Park's "Iridescent" in the background.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

Yes. There is a guilt in allowing someone to control and dominate us. I'm working on giving myself grace in this matter.

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