Guilt

What a waste of time.

Don’t we all feel guilty far too often? I know I do…
Guilty about working too much, too little, too late. Guilty about forgetting a
birthday, showing up late, making that hurtful comment.
I can feel guilty about certain choices I make, like eating too much sugar, for example. Or buying a piece of clothing that isn’t fairly and ecologically made. Guilt about spending too much money in general or saying no. Or going waaaay back: not finishing a study, picking a new one that on hindsight was wrong… all of the above left me feeling very guilty. And unhappy. And stuck. At least for a while.

Different kinds of guilt

Guilt comes up, when you commit to doing something and end up not doing it. When you’re not scoring high on integrity. (In case you’d like to know more about what integrity is and how it works: check out my last blogpost). In my last post I talked about how I set commitments and didn’t keep my word. Not keeping my word made me feel guilty. And feeling guilty left the situation unchanged. I just felt so bad that I didn’t do what I said I would. I didn’t cause anyone any harm, but still felt shitty.

A stage in life where a lot of guilt seems to come up is parenting: how often do parents make choices based on guilt? Guilty of spending too little time with the kids, of not being there when they need you…
What comes up for me personally are things like:
I want to be the kind of parent who participates in school activities. But every time I get the chance to, I have a meeting, a coaching session with a client or some other event. I feel guilty for not helping out enough, which in turn makes my child sad.
Or, when I spend too much time on my computer/phone. At the end of the day I look back and feel guilty for not having spent more quality time with my kids.

Effects of guilt

Feeling guilt paralyses you in a way. It keeps you locked up in the past. Especially when it involves an overwhelming amount of guilt over life-changing events or decisions you made.
“I should have….” or “if only I had…” are phrases that bring up this overwhelming feeling. When you hurt someone’s feelings and feel guilty as a result, you can’t change what you said. You can’t undo what happened. That goes for any and every situation. The past is gone. You have absolutely no control over it.

How to solve this negative thinking?

◊ consciously realize that the past cannot be changed
◊ acknowledge what happened
◊ forgive yourself
◊ ask yourself: What can I do here and now in regards to the situation that I feel guilty about?
◊ what lesson do I learn from this?
◊ take positive action
◊ set a commitment to prevent future feelings of guilt

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

This quote by Dr. Dwayne Dyer is very relevant when it comes to dealing with guilt.
Take responsibility in the here and now, make a new choice to do better starting now and change the way you look at guilt.

For example: buying sustainable clothes instead of fast fashion!

See it as a signal

I felt guilty for a long time, that I spent so many years studying, starting a new study 3 times, never feeling as if I’d made the right choice. That guilt kept me from looking at what I wanted. It kept me from seeing the lesson: deep down I know what’s right for me. And it kept me from taking action: choosing what is right for me and eventually: DOING what is right for me, no matter what.

Guilt can show you a lesson and change the direction of your life. But only if you choose to see it as a signal from the past, demanding positive action in the now.

Want some coaching to REALLY let go of your guilt? Contact me!

Everything is a choice.