Guilt is a big happiness buster.
We all feel it at least sometimes.
Your mom or romantic partner may be especially good at making you take
responsibility for what they don’t like. But if you accept it, guilt
can eat at you like rust on metal. At first, rust discolors but
eventually it breaks down the surface. If it’s allowed to continue, it
spreads and makes holes. Guilt does that to your happiness and
self-esteem when you let others control what’s right and wrong with you
or your behavior. Then you feel unworthy to receive all of life’s
goodies. Yet most guilt is unnecessary and unfair to you! Let’s put it
There’s no need to let guilt pervade your
life! Happiness can’t thrive amidst guilty feelings. In my doormat
days, saying “I’m sorry” was as frequent as saying hello. I rarely knew
what I’d done wrong but if something didn’t go right or someone didn’t
like my choice or behavior, I figured it was my fault. Many of us are
conditioned to feel responsible for the displeasure of others. If we
don’t live up to standards that are often too high, we beat ourselves
up with guilt.
Women are “supposed to” nurture everyone and
fix problems in a relationship. If your guy treats you wrong, do you
believe you must deserve it? NOT! Guys are “supposed to” be providers
and earn enough money for his family’s needs. Do feel it’s expected
that you protect your family, know how to fix things and handle every
situation well? If you don’t make enough money or you make a mistake,
does guilt make you feel like a failure? NOT!
which you are, makes you imperfect. And not being able to live up to
roles or making a mistake (or three) isn’t a good reason to beat
yourself with guilt. Yes, just accepting responsibility for something
gone badly hurts you. Feeling wrong never feels good. If you purposely
hurt someone, it might be warranted for a limited time. But some of us
live in it as a lifestyle. It’s hard to be happy if you live in a state
of doing wrong.
Be careful. Guilt is often used to manipulate.
Someone wants something and blames you for her unhappiness or his
failure so you’ll do what they want. Some moms are pros at laying on
the guilt to keep us jumping. But friends, co-workers and lovers also
use it for their benefit. If you’re not enlightened, you may give in to
soothe bad feelings as you wonder what you did wrong.
you want to be self-loving, be fair about whether guilt is necessary.
Feeling it often reflects that what someone else thinks is more
important than your own perception. Why let her make you guilty for
saying “no” because you’re busy? Why allow guilt to be dumped on you
for doing something reasonable that he doesn’t like? You don’t have to
accept what someone decides you should or shouldn’t do. You’re
responsible for you just as others are responsible for their choices.
your choice to accept guilt if you did nothing wrong or said “no” to
something not right for you. Why let other people’s opinions override
yours? Why punish yourself for not being perfect? Why let guilt dilute
your happiness if it’s not your fault? Reframe the thought that creates
guilt into a fair perspective about your role in what makes you feel
guilty. For example:
* “I feel
guilty not helping her.” can be “I’m sorry I couldn’t help but I have
“I let my buddy down” can be “I can only be in one place at a time and
while I wanted to be there for my buddy, I had to be there for myself.”
* “I wasn’t able to give him what he needed” can be “I can only do my
“I broke her heart” can be “There’s no easy way to break up with
someone but I had to do it and wish I didn’t have to hurt her in the
process but that’s life.”
It’s hard to break guilt
habits, but you can. It’s your choice to let guilt ruin your day so
practice choosing not to! If someone blames their troubles or
unhappiness on you, do you reassure yourself or wallow in bad feelings,
even if you don’t understand how you’re responsible? Consciously
evaluate whatever makes you feel guilty and if you realistically
Not giving someone their way when you have
no obligation to isn’t wrong, unless what they think is more important
than your view. Be honest about whether or not guilt is warranted. Pay
attention to what triggers it and change your perception of the
situation. If someone tries to instill guilt, remember that you’re a
good person who can’t do it all. Guilt is self-punishment. Love
yourself enough to skip that! If you feel guilt brewing, ask yourself:
Did I purposely hurt them? If the answer is no, think about
you feel so guilty. Not jumping when someone wants something from you
doesn’t make you wrong or bad.
- Was what I did in my
best interest? Often people would prefer you do what’s in their best
interest. But that doesn’t make you wrong when you take care of you.
Did I try my best? If that wasn’t enough
someone, oh well! That’s all you can do. And you shouldn’t feel guilty
if you can’t be what others would like you to be.
- Was I
truly wrong or is someone trying to make me feel that way? I’ve found
selfish people are first to call others selfish – to guilt them into
giving in to their requests. Be objective instead of worrying so much.
Not doing it his/her way doesn’t call for guilt.
I done something that warrants ruining my day with guilt? Did you
commit a crime? Screw someone over? If your intentions were good and
you accept you can’t be everything to everyone, there’s no need to
suffer for not being perfect in someone else’s eyes. Guilt won’t make
the person more satisfied or undo a situation so move on from it!
you forget to do something, don’t have time to help a friend, say
something inappropriate, or do anything that brings on the ol’ guilt
vibes, put it into perspective:
Feel bad it
happened for the moment.
Apologize if necessary
Forgive yourself for being human
Let it go
can’t be everything for everyone, including yourself. Stopping guilt in
its tracks is a loving act that makes your perception most important.
If you can’t see how you’re at fault, affirm, “I did nothing wrong and
shouldn’t feel guilty.” As you trust your judgment more, you’ll have
fewer reasons to go there. Accept that you’re a good person and don’t
owe everybody what they’d like. Forgive your mistakes. Let guilt take a
back seat to self-love. That keeps your happiness factor at a smiling
kind of level. ###