“ I feel guilty” – who hasn’t had this thought or said these words – ever? Not me that’s for sure.
And once we’re there, that feeling is hard to shake. It doesn’t want to let go and sticks to us like an unrelenting limpet.
Even worse we feel as though we’re a bad human being.
And what about those 3.30 am moments when you’re wide awake and wracked with guilt, replaying in your mind all those things you didn’t do right?
As we all know there’s nothing like a warm glass of regret to solve insomnia and eliminate brooding over our supposed wrongdoing.
Oh wait…it’s a warm glass of milk that’s far more likely to help us get back to sleep and dissolve those feelings of self-criticism and recrimination.
If you’re carrying that “I feel guilty” burden then it’s time to free yourself – you have no obligation to hold on to things that hurt rather than help.
Here are some powerful reminders to help you let go of that ‘I feel guilty” feeling and ease your troubled spirit.
The habit of guilt
Who knew that guilt was a habit? And guess what, the words you repeat to yourself like “I feel guilty” make you more likely to do things that you’re going to feel guilty about in the future.
Why? Because the feeling that we’re guilty of something, anything, is so powerful it leads us to assume that we’re not good people. I don’t suppose that idea is going to lead us to behave better do you?
Our minds are creatures of habit and it’s up to us to make sure that our dominant thoughts and feelings are ones that will positively influence our mind and actions, and guilty feelings are definitely not in that category.
As you awaken to this truth, then the way to stop feeling as though you are always in the wrong becomes crystal clear.
Train your mind to stop ‘awfulizing’
You can weed out constantly feeling conscious-stricken by keeping your conscious mind busy with expectations and assumptions of happiness, health and prosperity.
So make sure the thoughts you habitually think are guided by what you want to see happen in your life.
Creation occurs in the domain of the subconscious. Your thoughts and feelings create the pattern from which your world is built, and a change in your thoughts and feelings soon becomes a change of pattern.
This is the path to releasing yourself from the habit of constantly feeling responsibility or blame, and ‘awfulizing’ things you did or didn’t do in the past.
I found myself feeling guilty and ‘awfulizing’ something the other day. I had an email from a reader, who asked for coaching from me to help him find more purpose in life.
But…I gave up personal coaching years ago, it just wasn’t the right fit for me. Though many of my clients wholeheartedly and loudly disagreed with me!
And so my response was that, even though I was no longer coaching, I’d be happy to help in other ways and could email him some coaching principles and exercises that might work.
And then that inner goldfish of guilt began circling in my head.
“Maybe you could do more. Why couldn’t you just say okay this once. What if….what if….what if.”
This dear ones is unhealthy guilt and if you’re experiencing this for any reason, stop it right now.
Healthy guilt is rational and in proportion to the offence. If you’ve done something deliberately to hurt someone, guilt is the feeling telling you to make amends or change behavior.
Unhealthy guilt is irrational and misplaced.
I needed to switch my mindset. I hadn’t done anything wrong except care for myself and as a recovering people pleaser that was something to be okay with.
One of the most common and unhelpful addictions to our overall wellbeing is the draw of comfort. And that’s what being a people pleaser was to me. It was more comfortable to say yes than no, even at the expense of my own health and wellbeing.
Saying no to personal coaching was right for me and feeling guilty about it wasn’t acceptable. And nor is it for you when you’re simply taking care of yourself. That’s one of your jobs!
Seek self-compassion and dump that ‘I feel guilty’ feeling
Maybe now you’re moving a little more towards understanding you’re not a bad person, maybe you did a few things you wish you didn’t, but that doesn’t make YOU bad.
And many of the self-help gurus would advocate that you acquire a little more self-esteem. They’d be wrong. In this instance you need a little more self-compassion.
Not that self-compassion and self-esteem aren’t cousins of sorts, but forgiving yourself will automatically bring you greater self-esteem, whilst the opposite isn’t necessarily true.
More and more, psychologists are turning away from an emphasis on self-esteem and moving toward self-compassion.
Dr Kristin Neff in her book Self-Compassion offers exercises and action plans for dealing with every emotional struggle we might encounter in our life.
So why not start with accepting that you’re a human being. You get things wrong. We all make mistakes. We’ve all felt guilty. All these are good places to start, and not contingent on anything outside of yourself or as easily shaken as self-esteem.
I vote for self-compassion any day as a power tool to release you from the “I feel guilty” trap..
As Dr. Neff says, “Who is the only person in your life who is available 24/7 to provide you with care and kindness? You.
So forgive yourself and try remembering that we all mess up. This helps you connect to your compassion muscle not only for you, but for others. We’re no better or worse than everyone else.
Keep an eye on your life force
Each day we receive and absorb the force of life. Not because of anything we do, we get it because we are living, breathing human beings.
It’s part of the universal gift of life, a mysterious force that gives us insight, awareness and consciousness. Without it, we wouldn’t be here on the planet.
And when this life force is able to flow freely and be absorbed we become more alive, more intuitive, more in the flow.
And even though you can’t change what’s gone before, not the good you could have done but didn’t, nor the unkind words you spoke and wish you hadn’t, you can cut off the unhealthy cycle of daily guilt which weakens your life force.
Think about when you say to yourself “I feel guilty” is your energy upbeat and energized?
Not so much, right?
This is your life force being decreased. Your very essence is affected by what you think and feel.
So from now on practice noticing what is adding to this mysterious life force and eliminate what decreases it. Life is happening for you and through you. And becoming more aware of this ebb and flow of life will add to your inner peace and contentment.
Ask yourself, why would you even want to be in an energy that decreases your health, happiness and wellbeing? And the ‘I feel guilty’ syndrome does that in spades.
Capping it off
If you’re consistently living with the “I feel guilty” syndrome, ask yourself if this has now become part of your habit of Being. And try to remember you are much more than your thoughts.
Stop ‘awfulizing’ unhealthy guilt and if you’re experiencing more appropriate and healthy guilt do something about it. Acknowledge it and take responsibility for your actions.
Be compassionate with yourself. If you slip up, practice a little self-forgiveness and know that once we have forgiven ourselves we become free to learn from our mistakes so we can stop making them.
Practice being aware of the ebb and flow of your life force and infuse as much joy, sparkle and color into it as possible.
And that’s all from me my lovelies.
But if you can tell us if this “I feel guilty” thing is something you’ve noticed in yourself – ever – and are willing to share please let me know in the comments below…you never know you might make all the difference in someone’s world.
And if you think this article will make a difference in the world of someone you care for, please share these steps for letting go of guilt.
Check out this article on Creating Your Inner Reality by Dr. Joe Dispenza – it’s worth a few minutes of your time I promise.
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