How to Deal With Guilt When You Are Guilty

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Feeling guilty can overwhelm your entire life.
Feeling guilty can overwhelm your entire life.

People tend to feel guilty from time to time. How do you deal with guilt when you know you are guilty? Guilt is one way we learn about the world and how we should or want to behave. Guilt keeps you honest and helps you see where you want to make changes in your life. There are several steps you can take to make things better for yourself and those involved in any incident you're feeling guilty about.

Instructions

    • 1

      Accept what you have done and realize you cannot change it. The past is the past and you can only move forward. Guilt is an indication that you recognize what you did was wrong and hurt other people. While you can not change past actions, you can work towards making amends for the future.

    • 2

      Develop a plan for changing the negative behavior you are feeling guilty about. Write down the problems and all the people who are being affected by your actions. For example, if you have been stressed out at work and taking your emotions out on your family, you first need to identify your stressors at work. You can then write down how acting negatively on your emotions is impacting your family. Seeing in writing how things impact others can help you to make the necessary changes in your life to avoid guilt in the future.

    • 3

      Make amends to those people you have hurt. This could be a simple apology, fixing something you broke or discussing a problem and how to avoid it in the future. Making amends is an important step in dealing with the guilt you feel.

    • 4

      Learn from your mistakes. The point of feeling guilty is to let your mind know you are engaging in behavior that is not right for you. This means you need to take the necessary steps to keep that behavior from happening in the future. You could write down ways you will change or talk to relatives and friends who can remind you of your desire to change when you begin to engage in the same guilt-provoking behavior again.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider talking to a professional counselor if you can not get over your guilt or if you continue to engage in the same guilt-provoking behavior. A trained professional can help you get to the root causes of your actions and help you develop a plan of action to avoid the problematic actions.

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