Guilt is not a fun emotion, and it’s one which seems to plague a whole lot of women. From snapping at that difficult girlfriend, to skipping out on the gym and eating the last chocolate chip cookie, we regularly find ourselves laying blame too heavily at our own doorsteps and, ladies, this is bringing us down. It’s important that we learn first to keep our sense of guilt in proportion, and second to deal with shame in a healthy, effective way. Here’s a list of seven tips to help get you productively through your guilt …
1. Pin down the Origins of Your Guilt
There is a difference between inappropriate or unhealthy guilt, and guilt that serves a rational purpose. Psychologists tell us that feelings of shame are there to remind us that our behaviour has been destructive or harmful to ourselves in some way, and to encourage us not to repeat it. Our guilt over splurging three quarters of a paycheque on a pair of heels, for example, is healthy because that kind of spending on a long-term basis would cripple anyone. However, guilt over missing one yoga session is inappropriate because, in the grand scheme of things, a day without exercise here and there won’t kill us.
2. Learn to Identify Situations Worthy of Your Remorse
Girls, so often we beat ourselves up over nothing. Is it really necessary to torture yourself because you accidentally called a colleague by the wrong name? Should missing your spin class mean you won’t be able to sleep tonight? Ladies, we’re incredibly hard on ourselves and, more often than not, we really don’t need to be. Ask yourself if your guilt is in healthy and proportion, and if the answer is no, then girls, let it go!
3. Make Amends and Move on
If your feelings of guilt are healthy – if they are grounded in real destructive behaviour – then apologise to the people involved and carry on with your life. Maybe you made a comment about a friend behind her back and she found out: find her, tell her that you recognise you were wrong and that you’re sorry. Done.
4. Forgive Yourself
Often, it’s easier to apologise to people we’ve wronged than to forgive our own errors, but girls, if you’re going to make your guilt work for you, you need to learn to accept and excuse the things you’ve done.
5. Remember No One’s Perfect (… Not Even You!)
The reason so many of us struggle to forgive ourselves and battle with guilt daily is because we simply refuse to allow ourselves to make mistakes. Being human is about being fallible, girls, and unfortunately that means you’re going to get things wrong at some point.
6. Learn from Your Mistakes
Ladies, it’s an old saying, and one turns blunders into opportunities for progress. If acting a certain way has made you feel terrible in the past, don’t let it happen again. Guilt is there to prevent us from repeating destructive patterns of behaviour so when you’re battling with that sense of shame, listen to it and promise yourself next time you’ll know better.
7. Set Your Own Standards
A lot of the time, our guilt comes from a sense that we haven’t met the expectations of others, or succeeded in winning their approval. In cases like these, it’s important once again to take a look at where the feelings of shame are coming from, and to realise that they’re not healthy or in proportion with the situation. Remember girls, your sense of worth isn’t only determined by other people’s criteria!
What do you think, ladies? Is guilt a serious problem and how do you deal with it? Share your tips; I’d love to hear them …
Top Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker