Deal With Guilt – 8 Strategies
Are you struggling to overcome guilt? Guilt stems from inflicting pain and hurt on others or FEAR of inflicting pain on others. Proportionate and disproportionate guilt respectively. If you are constantly struggling with something you either did or didn’t do, use these 8 strategies to deal with guilt.
These strategies are split between Proportionate and Disproportionate guilt.
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Dealing with Proportionate Guilt
Proportionate guilt is feeling guilt from something you actually did. In other words you hurt someone else through some action. The fault is squarely your own. The following tips will help you deal with this kind of guilt and help you move on.
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next.”
1 – Learn From Your Mistakes
If you hurt someone, and you were in the wrong, what can you learn from that experience? How can you use it to be better and make better decisions? In the past I was always quick to say something hurtful if I was angry or felt threatened. I ended up feeling guilty for the things I said and for letting the other person down. Thankfully, over time, I learned from my mistakes and learned to take a second to breathe to get my emotions under control. What can you learn from what you did?
2 – Make Amends Quickly To Overcome Guilt
Do what you can to make amends with the person you hurt and do it quickly. Swallow your pride, apologize and do whatever it takes. Ask for forgiveness or ways to make things right. Never try to justify your actions or give reasons why you did what you did. Deal with guilt and wrongdoings as soon as you can. Keep in mind that they do not have to forgive you. If they don’t, be prepared to be at peace with that. Give yourself credit that you at least tried to make amends.
3 – Forgive Yourself
No one is perfect. You must learn to forgive yourself, accept any mistakes you may have made, and move on from there. Make amends and leave the past behind. You cannot change what has been done, but you can influence what happens in the future.
4- Focus on Self-Improvement To Deal With Guilt
Give some thought to the areas of your life that you are having issues with. Is it anger? Is it infidelity? How about bad parenting? Decide to seek knowledge and help to address those issues and to overcome guilt. Take time to actually come up with a self-improvement plan. Write it out with goals and deadlines. Then determine what daily habits you can adopt to move you towards those goals each day. For example, read for 10 minutes a day in a self-help book, or practice daily affirmations. If you need help with this there is a great video from Stefan James of ProjectLifeMastery.com that goes into detail about how to create a life plan. You can add your self-improvement plan to your own life plan.
Dealing with Disproportionate Guilt
Disproportionate guilt is guilt from something you cannot control. For instance, many people feel guilt for practicing self-care and putting themselves first. Even though they did not directly do anything to hurt anyone, they still feel guilt in some way. The following tips will help you overcome guilt of this type.
“Sometimes I forget that putting myself first isn’t selfish, but necessary.”
5 – Question Your Feeling of Guilt
I’ve always struggled with guilt. Not because I was constantly hurting someone, but because I was always afraid of hurting someone’s feelings for decisions I didn’t even make yet. There were so many times that I did something that made me unhappy because I was afraid I would hurt someone’s feelings. Most of the time it turned out it wouldn’t have made a difference to them one way or another. So what if you don’t go to the family BBQ this year? Are you really going to hurt someone? Question the reason why you are feeling guilty. Are you really responsible? Use these questions to deal with guilt.
6 – Realize You Have No Power Over Other’s Emotions
You can trigger emotions in others, but you have no real control over their emotions. Everyone is responsible for their own feelings. Sometimes no matter what decision you make, the other person is going to be upset at you or disappointed anyway. Does this sound familiar? Realize you have no power.
7 – Overcome Guilt by Taking Note of The Things You Control vs What You Don’t
Write out things that you have control over in the situation. Most of the time you will discover that you don’t have any control over the situation at all. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
You are not in control of the way other people feel.
We cannot continue going through life feeling responsible for other people’s happiness. When we feel like we are responsible, we can become perpetual people-pleasers and we leave ourselves open to being taken advantage of. Give up control and let people be accountable for their own feelings.
You are not to blame for surviving a tragedy or being more fortunate than someone else.
Also keep in mind that it’s okay for you to be successful. Don’t hide your success and good fortune in any area of life. Society has a way of turning people who succeed into villains. Don’t feel guilt for losing weight, getting a promotion, avoiding a tragedy, etc. Instead, feel grateful and encourage others when you can.
8 – Practice Self-Love To Deal With Guilt
Learn to look for acceptance and love from the inside. Be compassionate to yourself and realize that you deserve to be happy as well. We tend to beat ourselves up when we feel guilt. It’s important that you avoid this. We are only human and we are doing the best we can. The fact that you even feel guilt, means that you care. So let some of that care be directed towards you.
Whether you are struggling to overcome guilt based on something you did (proportionate guilt) or something you didn’t do (disproportionate guilt) there are some things you can do to deal with it. Learn from your mistakes, make amends, forgive yourself, focus on self-improvement, question your guilt, realize you have no power over other people’s emotions, take note of what you can control, and practice self-love.
How is guilt holding you back? What ways do you deal with guilt that aren’t working? Let me know in the comments below.