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What To Do When You Feel Guilty

Posted at January 24th, 2023 | Categorised in Make Him Love

What To Do When You Feel Guilty – I have a confession to make: I cheated on my first serious boyfriend in college, and the guilt haunted me for years. At the time, I didn’t know why I cheated on him; I really cared about him and I really liked our relationship. However, after it happened, I felt like an absolute jerk and wracked with guilt… and guilt has huge consequences. After we broke up, I dated a bunch of guys who didn’t treat me well. They lied, cheated, were possessive and didn’t show up for important events in my life. However, I keep telling myself that this is the type of man I deserve, because hey, look what I did to my boyfriend in college. Guilt kept me trapped in a downward spiral and I didn’t know what to do to stop feeling guilty and start treating myself – and others – right.

I know I’m not the only one affected by guilt. We’ve all been there: you’re having a great day, hitting the gym, impressing your boss at work, even meeting a friend for lunch, when you say or do something you feel guilty about, you want to climb into bed and hide under duvet for at least six months.

What To Do When You Feel Guilty

Sometimes we feel an emptiness in our gut because of big problems or events in our life, like breaking someone’s heart or losing an important client at work because you weren’t as prepared as you should have been.

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Right now, though, we’re often guilty of smaller things like “bothering” the waiter for extra water or “ruining a friend’s night” because you need to vent from an exhausting week at work. In fact, these moments of guilt are often so minor that they fly by without us taking the time to process how guilty we feel.

Problem with that? Guilt can be a really nasty feeling that not only magnifies what could be a small blip in your day, but also hurts you in the long run. After all, who are you serving by hating or beating yourself up?

In reality, guilt is often a pretty useless emotion because we usually get stuck and hold back instead of living like the bastards we really are.

Now you’re probably thinking, “But I’m [insert your “horrible” act here]. How can I not feel bad?”

It’s Your Life. Don’t Let Anyone Make You Feel Guilty For Living It Your Way.

I’m glad you asked…and the answer lies in changing the way you think about guilt and the actions that make you feel guilty.

Should you apologize if you behaved in a way that made you feel bad or hurt someone else? Yes (usually).

But should you keep beating yourself up so much that you’re paralyzed and unable to shake the guilt? No!

So what can you do when you feel your throat tightening and your stomach churning with G-U-I-L-T? I like to remember this quote from author Gretchen Rubin:

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“Negative emotions such as sadness, envy and guilt play an important role in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”

When you adopt this kind of thinking, guilt is not a heartless emotion that you feel and let consume you. Rather, it is an emotion that you can use as a guide to guide you back to balanced action.

So how do you go from being conscientious to creating empowering change? I use a two-step process to resolve the offense.

Step 1: Ask yourself a simple question: If I saw my best friend do the same thing I’m guilty of, do I think they should feel guilty?

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If the answer is no, guess what? You shouldn’t feel guilty either! Chances are you’re being too hard on yourself. In this situation, the best “solution” to your guilt is to treat yourself as you would your best friend: with lots of forgiveness and kindness.

So, for example, you can berate yourself for bringing deli sandwiches to the office party instead of the infamous homemade mats you promised to make. If this was a story about your best friend, would you berate him for “taking the easy way out” or point out that people are still eating all the sandwiches and no one seems to remember your original promise? I think you would tell your friend not to worry about it… so why would you say anything else?

The next time you feel guilty about something you didn’t expect to make your friend feel bad about, take a step back, assess how “awful” your faux passé was, and give yourself a break.

But what if you asked yourself the same question and answered, “Why yes, I expect my best friend to feel guilty.” In this case, you need to go to the second step. Here you need to spend more time thinking about the action you feel guilty about. Instead of just judging how “bad” it is, you also need to ask yourself why you did it in the first place.

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After all, as much as we’d like to say that wasting a $250 wallet you don’t need or snapping at your co-worker is completely out of your control, people rarely do anything without reason or reason.

Of course, doing these things “for a reason” doesn’t automatically mean you know that reason! That’s why you need to take the time to intentionally think about what triggered the behavior that makes you feel guilty right now. Don’t tell me you did it because you’re a “selfish jerk” too. As we discussed, beating yourself up won’t help you let go of guilt or move forward. It only causes paralysis and inactivity.

Instead, find out the real reason behind your behavior. Basically, the “real reason” is a need that all decent people have, but you won’t meet. So think of a time when your actions or behavior went wrong. Do you need salvation? Love? Understanding? Connecting with others? sleep? The list goes on and on, but “being a selfish moron” is not here!

I know how scary it can feel to dig into the motivations behind your bad behavior. However, I also know that this step is necessary to let go of guilt forever. Remember that college friend I cheated on? When I became self-aware and asked myself why I cheated, I realized it was because I was a tough introvert and had very low confidence in social situations. As a freshman at a large, new college, I had to build new relationships. But in the highly social party scene, I didn’t know how to connect with people, so my anxiety and helplessness shone through. I truly believe the only way to get new people to like me is to give them something, and guys seem to want to hook up. Once I realized that this was the “real reason” for my behavior, I focused on building my confidence and realizing my true value in relationships. Then I can forgive myself and finally get into the kind of relationships I deserve.

Tips On How To Deal With Guilt (or A Guilty Conscience)

You can also turn your guilt into intentional healing! Once you’ve identified an unmet need—or the real reason you engaged in the wrongful behavior—you can move on to showing yourself some compassion, as I discuss in detail here. Equally important, you must take steps to meet this need. If you snapped at your co-worker because you’re stressed, try to schedule another break for the week (like a relaxing bubble bath or a fun night out). If you ate too many sweets last night because you were feeling down, reach out to old friends and ask if they’d like to go out to dinner early and catch up. I also offer breakthrough sessions that can quickly and effectively move you through the process of turning guilt into powerful action. Together we will identify the unmet need driving your behavior and develop a specific strategy to meet that need, stopping the cycle of bad behavior and guilt in its tracks. You can learn more here.

Once you discover what unmet needs are actually causing your “bad behavior,” you will not only be able to overcome the root of the problem, but you will also be able to live without the guilt caused by these missteps. By applying my two-step approach to dealing with guilt – you can gain confidence that you are a DOER and no longer rely on the unwanted actions you used to.

P.s. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you embrace self-love and build bulletproof mental health:

1. Get my free video training on a holistic 5-step approach to making anxiety your best life

Stop Feeling Guilty For Doing What You Love

For 15 years I needed prescriptions to quiet my inner critic and keep my fear at bay

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