Anything can make us feel guilty. At any given time, we’re being pulled in many directions and trying to keep up with the demands of work, parenting, schooling … life.
Guilt, then, can creep in easily as we’re all trying to do so much and be the best versions of ourselves in so many situations that we wind up feeling like we’re somehow failing in all the areas.
Guilt might feel like that gnawing, wrenching in your guts…every time you see an advertisement or image of the perfect mother and happy family, and you feel like you’ll never measure up. Add in the fact that you also know, deep down, that you long to carve out time for yourself, to reconnect with your self who’s a person as much as a parent, and the vicious circle continues. I want to be good at parenting, but I crave time for myself, too, which must mean I’m not a perfect parent like the others are.
Maybe it’s that pounding headache…that stops you from being fully present at work, or with your family, and the familiar feeling that comes later when you wish you would have somehow pushed harder because now you feel guilty that you missed the moment and the headache keeps returning.
It might be that inner doubt you keep experiencing…because it feels like no one approves of the decisions you’re making and even though you’re trying to stay true to yourself and not give away your power, their judgement still leaves you feeling guilty somehow that you want something different than what they believe is right for you.
The good news? You can learn from experiencing guilt.
Guilt can present itself in many ways, and many people think that feeling guilty is a natural experience. However, while it’s a familiar experience for many, it’s not healthy or productive for anyone and serves no constructive purpose in feeling healthy and growing as a balanced individual.
Before we discuss helpful ways to let go of guilt, let’s first take a closer look into: What is guilt, and what can you learn from experiencing it? In “Six Things You Can Learn from Guilt”, Gary Zukav make these important statements:
Guilt comes from fear. Your spiritual growth requires challenging fear and cultivating love. Holding onto your thoughts and feeling of guilt will not support you or anyone else. They prevent you from living in love, creating in love, and enjoying yourself in love.
Guilt impairs your ability to learn from your experiences. When you see something that you could have done differently, or wish you had done differently, remember how you could have spoken or acted in love (instead of fear) so that you can apply what you have learned. Your experiences are designed to inform, support, and benefit you, not cause you to contract into fear, remorse, and guilt.
While guilt can make you feel like you can’t see a solution or get beyond your own head, you can very much learn to recognize when you’re experiencing guilt and to identify the trials that keep presenting themselves which bring you feelings of guilt: images of the perfect parent and feeling guilty about never measuring up; the non-stop demands of life that make you feel like you’re not pushing hard enough or doing enough all the time; the judgement you feel and the internal guilt it creates within you about wanting time for yourself and needing to reconnect with your spiritual self.
Guilt gets buried inside of us only to be triggered time and again—unless it is healed.
If you don’t have the time or you’re not willing to seek positive coaching and counselling to further your healing, try the following exercises designed to help you learn how to let go of guilt:
- Develop a healthy affirmation. Speak “I release this guilt to divine guidance” (or whatever your beliefs) and refer to it often as a powerful reminder to yourself and the Divine that you’re letting go the feelings of guilt/fear/burden for good.
- Identify. Solve. Implement. Draw a table with three columns. In the first column, write the cause of your guilt and divide it into parts. Rather than writing “I am guilty of hurting my daughter”, write the specific details that are causing you feelings of guilt. For example, (1) “I hurt my daughter when I told her I was too busy, (2) Now I feel even more guilty about going to my painting class because it takes me away from my daughter when I could be playing with her instead…” In the second column, write a possible solution for each point, (1) play when I can (2) remember that my painting class helps me feel revived which is good for us both. In the third column, write how you will help implement that solution, (1) set a time-limit for 20 minutes to play when she asks, (2) attend paint class without guilt.
- Don’t give up. Letting go of guilt can take time. Don’t give up on yourself or the situation. Simplify it by repeating to yourself, “There is a solution to every problem.”
- Write this down. “I am not guilty, and I forgive myself.” The act of writing down this belief will begin your healing. Referring to it whenever you feel guilty will further your growth, forgiveness, and ability to let go of guilt.
Recognizing guilt, identifying triggers, and learning ways to let go of the feelings of guilt will help you to keep walking forward toward feeling healthy of body and mind.