Guilt is a pretty normal emotion for humans.
But it can also be problematic.
Guilt serves a useful purpose.
It helps us to understand when we maybe should have done things a bit differently.
It’s an indicator that lets us know when our behavior toward others should be modified in the future.
In many ways, this is incredibly useful.
But sometimes, it sticks around beyond what’s required or necessary for our learning.
And in such cases, it can act as a weight that hangs on our shoulders—keeping us from thinking and performing at our best.
So in this post, you’re going to learn 5 tips for letting go of guilt.
Let’s dive in and talk about it.
1. Understand That Guilt Is A Sign Of ‘Compassionate Morality’
You may not realize this—but feeling guilt actually makes you the opposite of being a psychopath.
People who often feel guilty tend to be more honest, cooperative, considerate, and conscientious. And these are all very good things.
2. Address The Incident You Feel Guilty About
Did you do something wrong?
Did you hurt someone?
Sometimes, apologizing or acknowledging your mistakes can help to alleviate your guilt.
This may be an awkward step, but it can be extremely helpful.
3. Understand That You May Not Have Known Any Better
Sometimes, when we look back on the events of our lives, we think to ourselves:
“I should have known better than to do that.”
But sometimes, the truth of the matter is that we simply didn’t.
Sometimes, we just did the best we could with the information available.
And so, in such situations, a better thing to say to yourself would be:
“I wish I would have known, but I didn’t. There was no way to know what was going to happen. So feeling guilty isn’t being fair to myself.”
4. Understand That Your Reasons For Doing What You Did May Be At Least Partly Justified
Maybe you did something that feels completely unjustified, and you feel guilty about it.
But oftentimes, if we examine our actions honestly, we’ll see that what we did was at least partly justified.
Guilt can make you feel like there was no justification for what you did, even if there was.
This is a type of bias that can make guilt feel a lot worse than it ought to be.
5. Ask Yourself: “Was I Truly Responsible?”
Guilt sometimes involves a thinking error called overresponsibility.
This is another bias that can make you feel guilty when you may not have done anything wrong.
Kids may feel this when they feel like it’s their fault that their parents were fighting. Rape survivors may also feel it when they feel that they may have been responsible for their own assault.
“Who was the person who actually acted inappropriately?”
This question can help to illuminate who was actually responsible for the regrettable parts of the situation. And oftentimes, you may find that you were not at fault.
Hopefully this post has helped you to understand your guilt a little bit more.
Hopefully it has also helped you to take some steps to feel better about it.
Guilt is a heavy feeling.
Yes, it serves a purpose.
But shirking it and getting ‘back to normal’ can certainly be a relief.