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It was an early morning. I woke up before my phone’s alarm. I just lay there in the dark room, staring blankly at the ceiling.

I felt like a zombie. I felt empty, blank, soulless.

I was feeling guilty.

I wanted to feel delightful, joyful and happy. But deep inside me, a voice said “What’s the point? You deserve this.”

Because some people said something hurtful to me.

I know what you are thinking and I agree with you wholeheartedly.

“You should never feel bad if other people wrong you.”

You see, all my life I’d been trying to avoid conflict, awkward situations and argument. Sometimes even at my own expenses.

Because of my low self-esteem, I was a people-pleaser and I tried my best to please everyone around me. I was terrified if I did something that other people seemed unfit. And I was scared to death to be involved in any argument. And I constantly felt guilty, regardless of whether I’d done something wrong.

But life happened. No matter whose fault, if I was involved in an argument, I felt like it was my responsibility, my mistake. I punished myself for letting it happen.

If you find yourself dwelling on the past, keep playing the same old bad memories in your head or trying to find something to feel guilty about you might be a people-pleaser as well.

But being a people-pleaser only hurts you and makes you feel crappy about your life.

Here’s how you can stop feeling guilty and get rid of guilt once and for all, especially when you’ve done nothing wrong.

1. Recognize why you’re feeling guilty and find the root cause

There are empowering ways to deal with guilt.

I thought I was smart and curious. But that’s not true.

I wasn’t curious about the thing that matters the most in my life: myself. I wasn’t curious about myself, how I feel, how I think, how I react. And that’s such a huge mistake.

By ignoring my feelings, I fell deep into depression and anxiety and I didn’t know how to get out.

And then I discovered that the first crucial step is to recognize your feeling. Acknowledge it.

Sit down in a quiet room and write down your feelings on the piece of paper. Clarifying your feelings makes them easier to let go. If you can find someone you can trust, talk to them honestly about how you feel.

Once you’re aware of how you truly feel, find its root cause.

Understanding feeling guilty.

Your guilt is a feeling that comes from you, so you need to seek the reason within yourself.

Sometimes you feel guilty for doing nothing wrong, just because what you do is right in your own terms but is wrong in your socially common norm and vice versa.

2. Let go of your own judgment

What are your common norms for the right thing? Are you sure you are unbiased toward those norms?

How we were raised affect our lives. I have the tendency to please people and I’m afraid of conflict because I was born and raised to be a people-pleaser.

My definition of people-pleaser meant “selfless”, “generous” and “kind”. And I judged myself for not trying my best to please other people, even if it was at my own expense.

But that wasn’t right. I am equal to other people. And I am allowed to live my life under my own term.

Letting go of your own judgment is hard, and it requires repetition.

Sit down and tell yourself, “I set myself free from my own judgment”, “I allow myself to live my life under my own term”.

3. Accept that you cannot be perfect and have no control over others

If you have done nothing wrong but you still feel guilty, it might be because you fail to meet your overly high expectations for yourself. If you want everything you do to be perfect, you set yourself up for failure.

No one on Earth is perfect, so give yourself a break and stop beating yourself up.

4. Forgive yourself

Most people on Earth are being too hard on themselves. We can forgive other people easily but we cannot do the same thing to ourselves. And people who don’t forgive themselves are hurt and vulnerable. More than anyone, those people need healing, from within themselves.

It is not an easy task, but it can be done.

So take a step back, imagine it’s your loved one who feels guilty and hurt. Treat yourself like your loved ones and forgive yourself.

5. Imagine this

You are involved in several conflicts here and there. You feel like people are talking about you behind your back.

You feel like a fraud, a criminal and you walk with your head down?    No!   Stop this right now.

You don’t care about what they think. Because you only have control over yourself. You know you didn’t do anything wrong, so you know that you don’t have to feel bad.

Allow yourself to live your life under your own term, and choose to let go of any judgment toward yourself.

Feel like a fantasy? It’s possible.

Shake off your guilt and live your worthy life today.

Mai Pham

Mai Pham

Mai Pham believes we can create our own happiness. She helps overwhelmed and frustrated people to ditch their stress and enjoy their lives again. Grab her free actionable cheatsheet: 5 Simple Tips to Release Stress and Bring You Calm in Under 5 Minutes and join her free 7 Joyful Days Challenge email course. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Mai Pham

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11 Comments

  1. If I’m involved in any conflict what so ever I stress and dwell on it until it is either resolved or forgotten. I can’t focus or be calm until its the worry is gone.

    • Hmmm…you could actually begin to believe something else Will. Something that creates a much more consistently happy energy. Because it’s that energy that we dwell in that’s bringing our next life experience. Love Elle. 🙂

  2. carol anne burke Reply

    Thank you very much . I was feeling bad over someone else’s action . I went to talk to him and he wouldn’t even look at me . I was right in front of him . I felt like i must of done something wrong . I told a Pastor that his sermon was heart touching and powerful and then said thank you . That is all I did .

    • Hi Carol Anne and congratulations on handling a difficult situation so well. It’s not always easy and it sounds as though you did just great. Love Elle 🙂

  3. marcella byrnes Reply

    I likened my friend’s idea of a play to write for our final year in college. I decided to do the same play but at a different angle. I really like the play also, but had not thought it until she brought it up in class. Now she is saying I stole her idea for her thesis. I am riddled with guilt, but I want to still discuss the play I like. She would be my only pal in college as we are both mature students. Should I change..

    • Hi Marcella, only you are aware of all the facts..if it were me I would use my imagination to envision the best possible outcome for all concerned. In my experience that usually leads me to making the best choices. I wish you all the best with your thesis and your friendship. 🙂

  4. I have a overthinking problem and always feel angry from my past is there i can calm my mind and feel calm ?

  5. That’s a lovely idea, but what do you do when your life is being scrutinized by very important people, and the things they think of you could end you up in financial security or on the streets for the rest of your life. And when you have very little control over the information they get to see because the “system” in place doesn’t work and you’re the only victim? THAT is reality. My reality right now.

    • Hi Adelaide…doesn’t sound like life is much fun right now. My question for you is “What do you want to experience?” And once you’ve decided, make that your focus. I know it’s hard, but those who are able to do this are the ones who own the power in their life. The one freedom we all have is the freedom to choose what to think. Good luck dear one. 🙂

  6. What should I do if I fell that whatever I am doing is wrong like washing hands, bathing, etc.? I was a spoon feeder child when I was a kid (now I am currently 18) and so I am now facing a lot of issues and I feel guilty about it. And so I started to ask my mom – dad that how to do this particular thing (like how to brush properly etc). There were a lot of things that I didn’t know and until now I have learnt lot of things by asking my Mom, Dad and a few from my uncle and now I have very few doubts left but still I have a pang of guilt with myself and it hurts me a lot. I am not able to make eye contact whenever that thing comes in my brain, it keeps hammering my brain all the time. But sometimes I am in my normal state like how I am really. I make people laugh every time by making a joke out of every conversation (my behaviour is like that) when I am normal and everyone loves me a lot when I do that. But most of the time I am in guilt and when I am in guilt nobody loves me because of my face becomes ugly and I am not able to answer or talk properly. Its been 2 years now since I have this problem but I am healing with time I suppose. Please, I want myself back. I want to be happy. I want to make people laugh every time. I want to say a lot but………

    • Hi Amey – two years is a long time to be struggling with this dear one, have you considered seeking some expert advice?

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