By Catherine Pratt
Ah, feeling guilty. It really does make you feel like a huge weight is on your shoulders the whole time, doesn’t it?
I used to think my entire life was run by my feelings of guilt. Everything I did or thought seemed to be governed by how guilty I felt that day.
It also didn’t seem to matter what “it” was. I’d be feeling guilty about everything and anything. Either that I hadn’t done enough or that I’d upset people when I hadn’t meant to or even that I “should” have done something differently. I’d feel guilty about so many things and my life really did seem to be just reacting to one feeling of guilt after another.
It’s very draining and distressing living with a constant feeling of guilt. It also stops you from making the most effective and efficient decisions. In other words, you’ll end up making bad decisions simply because you’re reacting to those feelings of guilt.
So, where does guilt really come from and what causes it? And, how do we deal with feeling guilty all of the time?
I think feeling guilty comes down to basically 7 main reasons and usually you’ll be dealing with not just one of these but actually a combination of them:
1. You feel guilty when you’re trying to avoid something
Guilt often comes from trying to avoid something. You don’t want people to be mad at you, you don’t want to let someone down, you don’t want people to be upset because you did something.
To eliminate those feelings of guilt, it really helps if you can take a moment and ask yourself what are you thinking about? Are you thinking about what you don’t want (people being mad, etc.) or what you do want? Once you focus on what you do want, then you can start thinking of actual solutions and work towards that. Usually, you’ll find that as soon as you start that forwards motion, the feeling of guilt will go away.
Continuing to focus on how guilty you feel will only serve to keep you stuck feeling anxious and confused. I also find that as long as you’re focused on the feelings of guilt, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to feel guilty because that’s what you’re concentrating on. You’ll keep thinking there’s something else you should do or keep beating yourself up that you should have done more when you had the chance. You’re focused on the guilt instead of the real situation.
If you turn your thoughts to focus on what you want and then ask yourself how can you achieve that, you’re able to move forwards. You won’t be stuck feeling like there’s nothing you can do. You’re able to take action which is one of the things that really helps to eliminate those guilt feelings. But, you’re not just taking action to relieve your feelings of guilt, you’re taking action to solve the real problem or situation.