Ditch guilt for good

Ditch Guilt for Good
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Of all the emotions we feel, guilt is one of the messiest and nastiest so today I’m sharing 4 ways to ditch guilt for good.

Guilt is made up of lots of different emotions all smashed together into something that doesn’t always make sense. Like trifle – I’ve never understood mixing cake, jelly, fruit, custard and cream all together to make a dessert. Is it just me or is that a bit strange?

It’s often a big mix of feelings like:

  • Sadness
  • Hurt
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Jealousy
  • Pride
  • Fear
  • Shame

It’s also a parasite. It hooks into your brain, nags at you and tells you things like:

  • You’re a bad person.”
  • You’re worthless.”
  • You deserve to suffer.”

I’ve done some things in my life that I’m not exactly proud of (I’m guessing you probably have too). But at some point you have to let go of the guilt and move on.

Here’s how:

 

ONE :: The friend test

It works like this – if your best friend told you that they [insert your current gnawing guilt here]:

  • What would you say to them?
  • Would you reassure them?
  • Would you judge them?
  • Would you tell them they’re a terrible person?

Think about the advice you’d give to someone you care about if they were in your situation.

Chances are you wouldn’t be nearly as critical of them as you are of yourself.

 

TWO :: Apologise and ask for forgiveness

Look at the situation and ask yourself:

  • Did I hurt someone?
  • Do I wish I could take it back?

If the answer is yes then talk to that person. Be honest. Say you think you messed up.

It can take courage to admit you were wrong, but if you feel it – say it.

Don’t bottle it up. The likely outcome will be that the person you’re apologising to:

  • Didn’t think it was such a big deal, you’ll hug it out and move on;
  • Will be upset but appreciate your apology, you’ll hug it out and move on;
  • Will be upset, and appreciate your apology but will want some time to rebuild the trust; or
  • Will choose not to forgive you.

Please know that sometimes people will just choose to stay angry and it might not be about you or what you’ve done – it might be their own stuff that they need to work through. In fact, it might have nothing to do with the current situation at all – it could be other stuff completely and if that’s the case, that’s their problem not yours.

If they won’t forgive you, forgive yourself and move on.

 

THREE :: Forgive yourself

We all get snappy and say the wrong thing. We all do things we wish we could take back. But at some point you have to let it go, forgive yourself and stop using your mistake as a reason to label yourself “bad”.

You are not the problem. You made a poor choice. We all do. So stop telling yourself that this one mistake proves you’re worthless.

It’s not worth turning one mistake into a lifetime of misery.

Instead, take some time to remind yourself of all the nice, kind and thoughtful things you’ve done for others – there’s plenty of evidence that you’re a good person if you look for it.

 

FOUR :: The reflection test

How old are you now?

Ok, well ask yourself these questions:

  • If I hold onto this guilt for another 30, 40 or 50 years, what will it do to me?
  • How will I feel?
  • How will my relationships be?
  • Will my guilt stop me from connecting with others?
  • How will I feel about myself?

Looking into the future can help you release things quicker.

Think about it – are there lessons you’ve learned in life that you wish you’d learned earlier? Guilt is the same.

Instead of looking back years from now and thinking, ‘I wish I hadn’t tortured myself for so long about [insert your gnawing guilt here]’, let it go now.

Ask yourself if it’s really worth holding onto this guilt.

Does it help you or hinder you?

 

Summary

  1. Be your own best friend – treat yourself with a little loving kindness.
  2. Do what you can to fix the situation. If you can’t fix it, learn from it.
  3. Forgive yourself – don’t turn one mistake into a lifetime of misery.
  4. Reflect and release.

And remember:

The only person you’re hurting by holding on to guilt is YOU.

 

Leave a comment and share which tip you use to ditch guilt for good.

 
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26 Comments on Ditch guilt for good

  1. The Travelling Lindfields
    17/10/2014 at 2:39 pm (3 years ago)

    Definitely ‘forgive yourself’. Whether you are right to feel guilty or just being really hard on yourself you’ll never move on without forgiving yourself.

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      17/10/2014 at 8:09 pm (3 years ago)

      You’re so right Lyn. You’ll never move on without forgiving yourself. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Ellie Hodges :: an emergent life
    15/10/2014 at 7:59 pm (3 years ago)

    <3 this post. For me your point on forgiving yourself really resonates. Coming across the idea and nurturing self-compassion has been life changing for me.

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      17/10/2014 at 8:05 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing Ellie. I don’t know why we’re not born with ingrained ‘be nice and loving towards self’ skills but it seems to be a common thread across people of every age, gender and nationality. Schools leave stuff like that to parents to teach, but how can parents teach kids those vital lessons if they haven’t learned them for themselves? I’ve always thought it would be amazing if school could be a mix of all the usual Maths, Science, Sport etc. and self-connection/love/life skills like having confidence, listening to your instincts and being truly healthy inside and out – I think we need a more holistic approach. I’m so very happy for you that you’ve come through the challenges and into a place of forgiveness. I respect and admire the love and energy you put into helping others do the same. Sarah x

      Reply
  3. Elyse - Notes on Bliss
    14/10/2014 at 11:08 am (3 years ago)

    Such a beautiful post! I have only recently discovered the true power of forgiveness and it has changed my life 🙂 x

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      17/10/2014 at 7:59 pm (3 years ago)

      Aww thanks Elyse. I’m so happy for you that you’ve discovered the power of forgiveness. It’s deeply profound and a beautiful release. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. xx

      Reply
  4. Lisa | Mummy Made.It
    14/10/2014 at 10:33 am (3 years ago)

    We are our own worst enemies and our own worst critic when we should be our own biggest supporters. Thanks for the great advice….and I’ll neverlook at trifle the same way again!

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      17/10/2014 at 7:58 pm (3 years ago)

      Ha ha ha! Love your trifle comment Lisa! 🙂 Glad you liked the post.

      Reply
  5. Lucy Rowett
    08/10/2014 at 6:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Yep, I have used many of these tools too, and you are totally right. The best friend question is something my mum used to ask me a lot whenever I was beating myself up 🙂

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      17/10/2014 at 7:42 pm (3 years ago)

      You’re right Lucy, Mum’s are pretty clever people! I still have to remind myself to use the best friend question when I start being too hard on myself and it really works. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Kris Franken
    08/10/2014 at 6:40 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post, I think we all need this reminder every now and then. And I always go back to the friend test, I would never speak to a friend this way, so why do I treat myself so poorly sometimes?! x

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      17/10/2014 at 7:40 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Kris. Guess there’s some merit in that ‘be your own best friend’ thing after all! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jenny
    08/10/2014 at 5:38 pm (3 years ago)

    I love this post Sarah. I really resonate with “The Friend Test” and “The Reflection Test”. When we can truly befriend our pain – in whatever form (emotional or physical) is when true healing happens. I especially love the point about looking back on your life and wondering how holding onto an emotion such as guilt will in the long-term effect it. Thank you for writing so succinctly and sharing. xo

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      08/10/2014 at 10:13 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much Jenny, I really appreciate your comment and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I love how you said that when we befriend our pain we can heal – so beautiful and so true. xx

      Reply
  8. Chloe
    08/10/2014 at 2:11 pm (3 years ago)

    The Friend Tip is such a good one! I believe that we are often way to harsh on ourselves. I know myself I would never treat another human the way I have treated myself before. I am very empathic to other people but it is something I am trying to work on being more considerate and empathic to myself.

    Amazing post Sarah, thanks for sharing xo

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      08/10/2014 at 10:10 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Chloe. I’m so happy you liked the post. I totally agree with you – if I treated my friends like I’ve treated myself in the past I’d have no friends! It’s a shame we find it so easy to be mean to ourselves or hard on ourselves, but we can always learn new ways to be kind, nurturing and patient with ourselves. I love that you’re trying to be more considerate with yourself – I’m in the same boat as you and it’s so great to know we’re not alone on this amazing journey. xx

      Reply
  9. Mel
    08/10/2014 at 8:56 am (3 years ago)

    That’s a great post, and a good reminder of what a wasted emotion guilt is. I am about to leave my family for a trip away with my girlfriends for 5 nights, and I am proud to say that I have zero mother guilt!

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      08/10/2014 at 12:30 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Mel. So happy to hear you liked the post. I hope you have a wonderful time away with your girlfriends, it sounds fantastic. It’s brilliant to hear you’re excited AND guilt free (and rightly so). Good on you! Raise a glass of champagne to toast that because it’s a big achievement and you have every right to be proud. Sarah x

      Reply
  10. Ros
    08/10/2014 at 8:54 am (3 years ago)

    I love this post Sarah! Totally agree guilt is just the worst and awful when you let it hang around for years. Takes up so much space in your head too.

    Great tips for ditching it x

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      08/10/2014 at 12:28 pm (3 years ago)

      Oh thanks so much Ros. I really appreciate that you read my post and left a comment. Thank you. I’m glad the tips were helpful and you’re so right – guilt really can hang around for a long time and take up way too much space in your head (space that should be reserved for all the great stuff instead!) 🙂

      Reply
  11. Lauren
    08/10/2014 at 8:34 am (3 years ago)

    Forgiveness has been HUGE for me! Especially self-forgiveness.

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      08/10/2014 at 12:26 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing Lauren. I hear you – self-forgiveness is definitely a huge and important step to peace of mind and self love. xx

      Reply
  12. Jacqueline
    08/10/2014 at 6:55 am (3 years ago)

    I have utilized excessive energy being consumed by guilt. Thank you for reminding me that it’s OK to let go.

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      08/10/2014 at 12:25 pm (3 years ago)

      You’re so welcome Jacqueline. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Andrea @ Sublime Finds
    07/10/2014 at 8:29 pm (3 years ago)

    There’s some way-too-true stuff here, I really like the idea of thinking about what advice you’d give to someone else and giving that to yourself! I need to do a little of that.

    Great post Sarah, thanks! x

    Reply
    • Sarah Jensen
      07/10/2014 at 8:32 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for your lovely comment Andrea. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post and got a useful tip from it. I’m a big advocate of being our own best friend. I think we tend to be a whole lot harder on ourselves than on other people, so it can be good to step back sometimes and be more loving toward ourselves. Sarah xx

      Reply

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