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Is your guilt justified?

December 11, 2015

 

  

I often see clients carrying around a lot of unnecessary guilt. They feel like they need to hold on to it. Hanging onto and dwelling on the guilt is only making them feel worse.

 

Of course, if someone deliberately did something to harm someone else - then they should feel guilt. It's their moral compass telling them something is off track. This is when guilt is justified.

 

But this is not usually the case. Guilt is often UNjustified. When I ask them if they intentionally tried to harm someone, the response is: "Of course not."

 

Unless you've deliberately done something to hurt someone, you don't need to feel guilt.

 

There are often negative beliefs that create the guilt that we hear from others or we say to ourselves. These are a few, but there are many:

 

- I'm responsible for their happiness

- It's my fault if they're not happy

- If I feel guilt, then I must have done something wrong

- Someone said I did something wrong and I'm a bad person, so this must be true

- If I focus on my own needs, I'm doing something wrong or I'm selfish

 

Usually we are doing the best we can at the time with the awareness we have. Yes, we make mistakes sometimes because we're human. We can learn from our mistakes and make amends if needed. Making amends might mean correcting it by learning from the mistake and moving on with the new insight you have or apologizing if needed.


Are you willing to forgive yourself for not knowing or not being aware at the time? Are you willing to allow yourself to be human. You can decide what's in your control and which things you can do something about and which you can't.

 

 

Set a time limit on your guilt. How long do you have to suffer or punish yourself? What is this terrible thing you did - what are the facts and the evidence - that you could present in a court of law? Often, there are no facts. We feel it or someone said it - so it must be true. Oh and speaking of a court of law, even prisoners who have been found guilty have a time limit on their sentence. Then they are freed!

 

So is it time to let the guilt go? If so, let go of thinking about it and let go of talking about it. Distract yourself with something else. Say: "I forgive myself for that. I'm not going to waste time dwelling on the past. Life is too short. I choose to be happy now."

 

We can't feel peace and happiness when we hold onto guilt. It's hard to be fully present when we're back in the past feeling bad about what we perceived happened. We all can empower ourselves by taking action and focusing on a solution. Then we are no longer a victim of the situation.

 

 

 

"Guilt trip? Don't buy the ticket." - Lucinda Bassett

 

 

If you know anyone who would benefit from what you've read here, please forward this blog to them or send them over to my website - thepsychologysite.org.

 

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Hi! I'm Beth Matthews. I'm a Registered Psychologist who is driven to helping people feel better about themselves. I help people who are struggling in their lives gain an awareness of how they can cope with anything that comes their way. With my easy-to-use strategies, you can feel better and be your best you!

 

matthews77@shaw.ca

780-721-9157

thepsychologysite.org

 

 

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