Don’t Give in to Guilty Feelings
When you feel guilty, you are often experiencing a false or inappropriate sense of responsibility for something that has gone wrong. You may have magnified what you did and took personal responsibility for “whatever.” Instead of taking time to understand your role in the situation, you may have been unrealistic and automatically believed that you were to blame for whatever happened, even though others didn’t see it that way.
It is rare that a situation gone wrong is all one person’s fault. Often things seem worse when they happen than they actually are. Feeling shame for something that isn’t necessarily your fault only adds damaging negative feelings to your sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Overcoming guilt is sometimes crucial in helping you put a situation in perspective and evaluate your actual role.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that nobody is perfect when it’s your turn to be that imperfect person. Anyone who strives for perfection is always let down eventually, and usually suffers more than others because they just can’t forgive themselves for slipping up. The feeling of guilt is often self-appointed. Whether it is or not, some good always comes from it. In feeling guilty, the experience makes you take notice so that if a similar situation occurs in the future, you have learned something from the prior experience; maybe, how not to repeat a mistake you made the last time. Hence, imperfection has been proven to have its benefits.
Dwelling on your guilt can never have a positive effect on you. It only reinforces negative feelings that you have about yourself and makes you feel even worse. Okay, so something went wrong. Maybe, or maybe not, you played a part in that misdirection. Whether you did or not, you feel that way. Now it’s time to forgive yourself. Acknowledge what happened and take the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. Then try to let it go. You can’t change the past. You can only improve what happens in the future from the experience.
Make Amends If You Need To
If you’ve accidentally said something insulting or mean to someone else, and you are feeling guilty about it, then do something. Hurting someone’s feelings is something on which you can take immediate action to remedy the situation. Apologize to whomever you have offended, and maybe think a little more before opening your mouth and making such comments again.
Don’t Take the Blame for Others
Sometimes others can make you feel guilty for something that isn’t your fault. Sometimes it is their fault and they are trying to project their guilt onto you for their own benefit. If you take the blame, then they can convince themselves that they did nothing wrong after all. Sometimes talking things through with someone else, who won’t judge you, can be a useful step in working out if what has happened is really your fault or if someone is making you feel that way.
Finally, you can learn something without feeling guilty about it. If something goes wrong, does it help to punish yourself for it? Use the experience to learn from it, but don’t associate the memory with a never-ending feeling of guilt. Do your self-worth a favor and let it pass.