How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Everything

Feeling guilty is a mechanism for bettering ourselves. However, if it keeps us from moving forward, it's time to evaluate our feelings and turn the page.
How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Everything

Last update: 28 June, 2021

Guilt is a fairly common emotion in some people.

Continue reading if you believe you could’ve done something better and can’t stop thinking about it. Also, if you continuously regret your mistakes or think you always make them.

Today’s article will show you how to stop feeling guilty in any situation.

Is it normal to feel guilty?

There are different reasons why a person may feel guilty and be in pain about it. At a cultural and educational level, feeling guilty is a way to avoid making mistakes in the future as it allows us to be better the next time around.

Ok but, why do we feel guilt?

Here are some reasons why.

An introspective woman.

1. Moral or ethical reasons

People have been taught the “correct” or “expected” practices according to the society and culture they grew up in since they’re young.

Thus, we feel guilty when we do something outside of these norms. This is because it’s outside the pre-established code. However, guilt can also just be an “at the moment” emotion that doesn’t lead to a change in habits or direction.

Perhaps, we feel a little guilty for doing something at first, but either forget it later or just focus on the consequences of our actions.

2. Because we think it makes us better people

Experiencing guilt doesn’t make you a better citizen, better child, spouse, employee, etc. Unfortunately, we have this idea that it’s better to do something bad and feel guilty about it since this emotion makes us morally superior. It’s as if we could redeem and purify ourselves just by doing it.

However, the important part isn’t the feeling of guilt. It’s the sincere regret, as well as what we do to correct our wrongdoing.

3. Selfish reasons

Guilt is also a selfish response of human beings. It makes you feel like a bad person or that you are not at peace with yourself when you do something wrong. However, these self-centered thoughts are quite different from ethics (this is based on how we think others feel).

Guilt can distract and distance us from those around us. We’re so caught up in feeling guilty that we don’t do anything good for anyone.

How to avoid feeling guilty

The feeling of guilt can appear at any time and place. In some people, it is more frequent and can result in depression, loneliness, anguish, regret, etc.

Continuously thinking about something that we have done “badly” can keep us from fixing our mistakes and learning from them in the future. Pay attention to these recommendations to avoid feeling guilty all of the time.

1. Understand the feeling

A woman dreaming.

 

Guilt can be productive or unproductive. In the first case, it’ll allow you to grow and mature but it’s the complete opposite in the second.

We don’t have to feel guilty if we learn from our errors and use them as a lesson.

  • Unproductive guilt doesn’t allow you to improve yourself and can lead to deep depression.
  • It isn’t wrong to think about something you’ve done incorrectly. However, it becomes a problem when you’re only thinking about the mistake and not trying to fix it or make it better the next time.
  • Everyone makes mistakes but the attitude when dealing with them is what defines you.

 2. It’s normal to feel guilty in uncontrollable events

A car accident, or not having said goodbye to someone who’s passed away are typical situations that can make us feel guilty.

  • Thinking about something we could’ve done and for other reasons makes us feel terrible
  • Impotency, frustration, and loss of control go hand-in-hand with guilt

It might be a good idea to think about the fact that there are many things we cannot change and so we’re not bad people due to it. 

We can’t control everything around us. Thus, thinking about what could’ve been isn’t healthy because we don’t have the ability to change the past. 

3. Reflect on your emotions

In what moment or situation are you most likely to feel guilty? Do a retrospective exercise and analyze it.

  • Perhaps it’s due to something you were taught as a child pertaining to morals or ethics. Other emotions you may experience are shame and sadness.
  • Identify each of these and determine at what specific moment they appear. Once you’re aware of the habits or situations that make you vulnerable to feeling guilty, you can work on them and try to change or improve them.
  • It could help you to keep a journal or make a list or talk about the issue with someone close to you (or a therapist). It’ll keep guilt from taking over.
A woman not feeling guilty.

4. Accept the guilt

This is a fundamental step so that the feeling won’t overpower you and your interpersonal relationships. It isn’t wrong to feel guilty, but it isn’t good to hold on to it for your entire life.

Finally, accepting the problem means you’re a human being who makes mistakes. But it also shows that you have the ability to change. It’s hard and it takes time, but you’ll feel better about yourself.

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