How To Process & Let Go Of Guilt? [18 Effective Tips]
Do you experience an (extreme) feeling of guilt? For example, after ending a relationship, towards your parents, to your child or someone else? Here you will find the best tips to deal with (unjustified) feelings of guilt, to let go of them and to process them, so that you experience positive psychological and physical effects.
Why is it so important to let go of guilt?
Guilt thoughts and feelings demand an incredible amount of attention and energy from you. When that guilt feeling is resolved, a whole load of alertness, freshness, attention and energy is released into your life.
The process of guilt will give you a sense of freedom and healthier body: emotions – such as guilt – his energy and all that is in your body. By processing emotions such as guilt, the energy in your body can flow again.
This promotes the self-healing capacity and has major positive consequences in the physical, psychological and mental area (such as resolving depression).
Every second when your happiness is held back by guilt, you are unable to pass on happiness to your environment. Is that really what you want? Stop depriving yourself and others and work through the guilt feelings so that you can feel free and happy again and be a wonderful example to others.
How can you let go of guilt? Read all the tips here
Let’s get straight to all the tips for dealing with guilt.
Tip 1 – Start researching your own feelings of regret and guilt
Think very deeply:
- Why do I have these regrets?
- What situations exactly cause the guilt feelings?
- Find out what you feel guilty about. Write them down. You may end up with a surprising number of situations that you did not think about at first.
Tip 2 – Accept that the past is the past & give it love
Please note: this tip is not a denial or an excuse to look at what you did with an attitude of ‘what does I care’. The opposite is the case. We want to bring love to it so that we can learn from it and feel and spread love again. The regret will then disappear.
Things happen in the past and they cannot possibly be changed. Besides, now I have to move on with my life and let it rest, no matter how unfortunate it is for the other person. The only thing we can do is decide how to deal with it. And that is what the following tips are about.
Guilt and regret are futile attempts of the mind to change the past. It’s like watching a movie on DVD and rewinding it 100 times hoping the scene will play out differently.
Regret is the desire to change the past. Fear is the desire to direct the future.
Since the film cannot be changed, the only thing you can do is choose how you deal with it, so what meaning you give it. You will find ways to do this in the following tips.
All you can do is face the movie exactly as it is and accept it. It’s perfect the way it is, because it just happened the way it did.
Tip 3 – Determine what your positive intention was
Did you do it on purpose? What was the positive intention behind it? Every behavior has a positive intention, only the way in which that positive intention was fulfilled can be very worthless. Next time you can find a valuable way to fulfill that positive intention.
Tip 4 – Draw and conserve the lessons from the situation
Don’t make the same mistake again. That is the great gift of this learning process. It went wrong: in retrospect, the wiser I knows that I shouldn’t have done that. It is precisely because of that situation that I have now become the wise person I am today.
If you don’t draw and keep the lessons, you keep blaming yourself. That is of no use to anyone at all. If you take the lessons from it and thereby let go of the guilt, everyone benefits, because from now on you are a better person for yourself and others.
There is a way to look at the past. Don’t hide from it. It won’t catch you – if you don’t repeat it.
One of the NLP principles is: There is no right or wrong. There are only effective and less effective / functional ways to achieve a certain goal or intention. There is therefore no reason to hold on to old feelings of guilt as long as you learn the lessons from it. When you were 23 and made that one mistake, you didn’t know any better. Now you know better! You were young, inexperienced and ignorant compared to now.
As humanity, we have only just started to look into the history of the earth. If the Earth existed for a year, we would only exist for the last 30 seconds of it. A baby knocks over a vase. Do you punish it and say she can never be forgiven?
– Neale Donald Walsch
Are you looking for a step-by-step plan to learn the lessons from a situation? Then use these steps from Time Line Therapy®. Another reason TLT works is because shame and guilt are completely related to time.
Tip 5 – Recognize that guilt is healthy and beneficial
Have you read the previous tip on drawing lessons? Guilt feelings are therefore healthy because they act as an alarm bell to tell you that you have to learn lessons from something. Of course it feels very annoying, but it is also very natural and good that you feel that way. It means you just have a conscience and you are human.
So they are very useful, those guilt feelings, but until when? When have you learned enough and suffered enough? Once it is enough and you have to forgive yourself and keep going. It doesn’t help anyone if the guilt is held on longer than necessary … The added value of the guilt is that it conveys the message to you and that it teaches you to become the best person you want to be.
Anyone who calls themselves a sinner and feels guilty is a holy person. That’s because he doesn’t lie to himself. He is a good person.
The feeling of guilt becomes unhealthy if you keep expecting too much from yourself (and if you don’t process the feelings). If you start to set the ‘standards bar’ too high, want to constantly please others and constantly have the feeling that you are doing the other short, then you are wrongly blaming yourself. These guilt feelings cause tension, insecurity, fear and powerlessness.
Guilt feelings make you aware that you want to tackle certain situations differently in the future.
Guilt tells you:
- “I want to make you aware of something!”
- “I want you to learn from the situation!”
Therefore, from now on, listen to your guilt feelings. Warmly welcome the guilt. Do you – finally – dare to feel it? Can you hear what it wants to tell you? Can you figure out why it’s there? Feel the healthy, positive and meaningful message.
Those who feel guilty have a strong conscience and will learn valuable lessons.
Tip 6 – The world is not about you
Do you feel guilty because you think you have hurt someone else? There are a few options about the situation:
- The other didn’t mind at all. In the perception of the other, nothing bad has happened at all.
- The other person has probably dealt with it for a long time and never thinks about you again.
- In addition, the other may have long forgotten.
You are the only one in the world who still thinks about it. Bizarre huh? That is the work of the ego, which thinks that everyone is constantly thinking about you.
Tip 7 – If necessary, apologize (!)
If possible, you can apologize to the other person. If you have to wait too long to be able to see the other person again or if it is not possible to speak to the other at all, that is not a problem. Forgiveness of your guilt is an individual process. The other person does not need to know about this consciously.
Why is this not necessarily necessary? Imagine that your partner has ended your relationship, and the other keeps telling you how guilty she feels, that she’s not feeling well enough, and how sad she is. She continues to ask for your approval, while it is her own guilt that you cannot do much with. That guilt feeling is something that lies with the other. It is really an individual process.
Tip 8 – Talk about it
Express your feelings. To the person you feel guilty about, or to others. This will help take the load off. If you really want to speak to the person you feel guilty about, take a photo or piece of paper with his / her name and speak your message out loud. Among other things, say:
- How you feel
- What you find annoying in your own behavior
- What the consequences were for you
- What you have learned from it for the future
Talk to people about it. Then it gets lighter and easier.
Tip 9 – Write about it
Make a diary and write it off. List exactly what you feel guilty about. Well organized.
Tip 10 – Many things seem much bigger in retrospect than they actually were
Check if it was that bad, especially if you take on different perspectives or if you look at it while standing in the other person’s shoes.
Tip 11 – Forgive yourself
Do you want to resolve guilt? Then this is one of the most important things you can do: go from victimization to responsibility and forgive yourself.
You’re only human. Anyone can make mistakes, and that’s a good thing: the whole point is to learn from mistakes and become wiser and grow.
Say out loud, “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t make me a bad person. I forgive myself for my mistake. “
Offering your apologies to yourself and / or the other person can be a relief. And the special thing about forgiveness is: you only have to forgive yourself, and with that the other is also forgiven. Releasing guilt is a personal process, so you can do it completely individually, even if the person you feel guilty about doesn’t agree with you letting go.
Tip 12 – Your standards and values that you learned as a child are no longer always valuable
As a child you learned from your parents that certain things are good and certain things are bad. Let’s take an example:
You may have learned from your parents that as an employee you should always be employed by your employer and not do nothing. Then as an adult you can start to feel guilty if your employer tells you that you can often lie down during working hours to relax. When you lie down, you feel (unconsciously) guilty. If you decide not to relax but to go to work, you feel guilty because the reason for that decision is that you have to be employed by your employer (the value you received as a child).
Another example is that you are very committed to the value of taking care of others. If this is one of your most important values, it is quite easy to feel guilty for something.
The solution for this? Read the article on values to learn how to change values.
Also through inner child work you can examine and change the norms and values of your childhood so that they no longer cause feelings of guilt. The book ‘The Inner Child – Letting Go of Guilt’ helps you to get rid of your guilt feelings through inner child work.
Tip 13 – Was it not your fault? Put the responsibility back on who it belongs to
Do you recognize that you regularly take responsibilities from others’ plates, and that you do so even when the other person had not asked for them? That you want to bear the grief or pain of others and that you want to be responsible for the well-being of the other?
If you didn’t do it on purpose, you don’t even have to feel sorry.
In some cases you couldn’t do anything about it. You were not responsible for the situation that you feel guilty about. Place responsibility with others where it belongs. Others also make mistakes.
You can do this, for example, with the help of systemic sentences in a family constellation.
Tip 14 – Keep the negative emotions of others, with others
Does someone blame you for something and does the other have negative emotions about it? Have compassion for the other, while leaving the emotion with the other. Only you can process your own emotions and only the other can process his / her own emotions. It is unnecessary, problematic and impossible to do that for each other by carrying each other’s emotions.
Tip 15 – Take care of yourself and others
Enjoy the small and beautiful things in life . Find the balance and be caring for everyone around you. This is the wonderful lesson you learned from that situation. Thanks to that situation, you can now be very caring for others .
Just an example: listen very carefully to someone else , spontaneously treat yourself to a cup of coffee and do not judge while listening. Then see your positive influence on others. More often recognize your positive contributions that you have to offer on a daily basis.
Also take care of yourself and say no to things you don’t need.
Tip 16 – Turn the guilt into gratitude
Be grateful for the valuable lesson. You can now go through life with more elegance, strength, charm, love and quality (and you name it) in future situations. So be grateful that you are allowed to make mistakes and that you can learn from them. This is incredibly valuable for your development.
Tip 17 – Seek professional help
For example, find a guilt coach, a Journey therapist or undergo EMDR, a method especially for trauma.
Tip 18 – Use these tips to generally process feelings
I have also written an article that is generally about emotional processing . You can also find very useful and practical tips there.
So resolve your guilt – Take the lessons and forgive yourself
Why do the tips from this article work? You cannot change your past. How you deal with it.
Do you remain a victim of this person / situation? Do you let the guilt, the situation, and the person control you? Learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself to be free from guilt.
Finally, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page. Good luck coping with your guilt!
I myself have benefited a lot from this information. Thank you very much!
I feel very guilty because I accidentally got stuck on a scooter with my bicycle bag. The person had put his scooter right behind my bicycle and there were bicycles next to me, there was a wall in front of me. I was trapped trying to get out. I wanted to cycle away and then I heard a crack. I was shocked, looked behind me and saw a small piece of black plastic. Probably from the hood over the exhaust pipe. I don’t know why but I cycled away. When I arrived home I wanted to cycle back to honestly tell the person that I had done this by accident, but my husband and son did not want this. They were afraid that I would get into trouble because someone who traps you is probably not a nice person. My husband reacted a bit angry that it might cost us a lot of money because they might get other damage. In short I did not go and I am so sorry that I did not go back. But now I can’t do anything about it anymore. I find it very difficult to forgive myself for this. I thought I’d write it off here. Who knows, it might help me a little. Love Patricia