Our Top 5 Tips for Dealing With Guilt

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Think back to your whole life so far.

There must be a thing or two that you really regret.

It’s okay, we’re all human and can make some mistakes – it’s a normal part of growth.

Yet, sometimes we find guilt will just creep up on you, take over your whole mind and before you know it, you’re in emotional turmoil.

As an emotion, guilt holds a lot of power.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it helps you acknowledge your behaviour and drive your motivation to be a better person.

And sometimes, it can help you to go back to the root of the problem, and fix what you could have done differently.

So on one hand, guilt can actually promote positive growth but at the same time, it can linger and stop you from ever moving on.

Not sure how to deal with your guilt?

Don’t worry, here are our top 5 tips to help you move on… 

1. Rationalise Your Guilt

Guilt is only worth feeling if it helps us to grow as people, especially if your behaviour was offensive to others in the past.

When guilt helps us to recognise our mistakes, this is known as healthy or appropriate guilt.

For example, let’s say you feel guilty for working a crazy 80 hour work week and you’ve neglected your family because of it – guilt serves a purpose and helps you to correct it.

However, it’s not always easy to have a healthy development towards guilt and we can suffer from unhealthy or inappropriate guilt.

As an example, let’s say you’ve just eaten six chocolate bars in a row – guilt could be a way to signal your brain that this was a little extreme.

Behaviours like these can be harmful to your overall well being – so rationalise the purpose of this guilt and use it to your advantage – to realign your moral or behavioural compass.

2. Make Amends

If you know you’ve done something wrong, try to find a way to put the situation right, the sooner the better.

The longer you leave it, the more you’re letting guilt build up.

Consequently, this can result in anxiety for you, doesn’t solve the situation at hand or end the pain for anyone.

To make amends, make sure your actions are useful to who you’re trying to build a bridge with.

For example, if you missed an important task at work and a colleague was left picking up the pieces – rather than just taking them out for lunch in an attempt to say sorry, take accountability for your mistake, say that you were to blame and help them with their work – which will be far more valuable for you both.

3. Learn From Your Mistakes

You won’t always be able to make amends with every situation though.

Sometimes, our mistakes cost us our closest relationships and unfortunately, combined with sadness it can feel impossible to escape.

Before you can leave the past behind, accept it.

Then ask yourself, what led to the mistake? Are there any triggers you can notice that made you behave in that way?

And, what would you have done differently? Are there any behaviours you could work on?

Recognising these will help you to be a better person in the future and not repeat the same mistakes.

4. Be Present

Try to be present and focus on now.

At the end of the day, you can’t change the past.

So, stop thinking about what could have been and concentrate on what is.

No matter how many different scenarios you play in your head, what’s been done cannot be reversed and by constantly worrying about it, you’ll only increase your anxiety.

Instead, think about how you can control your actions in this very moment and live mindfully moving forward.

5. Understand, Nobody’s Perfect

Not even the closest people to us can live a perfect life.

We all make mistakes somewhere along the line which can leave us feeling guilty from time to time.

However, once you realise what you’ve done wrong – just accept it  – you’re only human.

Don’t engage with your mind’s self-blame: “I should have known.” “I should have acted differently.”

You’re not perfect. And neither am I.

Be aware of your guilt of course – often it’s trying to tell us something about ourselves.

But as we mentioned in tip 1, rationalise your guilt and don’t punish yourself.

The Takeaway

Guilt is a very common emotion that everyone experiences, so don’t worry, you’re not alone.

When you find yourself feeling guilty, ask yourself – is the guilt trying to correct your behaviour or is it a heightened response to a situation that no longer matters?

Above all, make sure you try to make amends and tie up any loose ends so that you can truly move on.

Get in touch today to find out more.

Please check our Court of Protection Solicitors page, in the meantime.

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