Guilt isn’t exactly the greatest emotion to feel. That feeling of wishing we could go back in time and change an action or something that was said in the heat of the moment can be a heavy one to sit with. But did you know that guilt is crucial for our development? Guilt is extremely important for our relationships. That’s because guilt can cultivate empathy and even act as a reminder when faced with a difficult choice. Feeling too much guilt, however, isn’t a good thing. And it seems as though many of us are holding onto a lot of guilt that we simply shouldn’t. Here are a few ways you can start letting go of guilt this holiday season.
How to Let Go of Guilt This Holiday: Right the Wrong
It’s hard to admit when you are wrong or when you’ve done or said something hurtful. But the first way to begin shedding the feelings of guilt is by making amends for the thing you feel guilty about. While apologizing and reaching out after a wrong can feel uncomfortable, just think of the calm you’ll feel once you do it. Remember, your actions affect others in ways we don’t always understand. That apology could help them heal and cope with whatever battle they are fighting.
Change Your Perspective
Guilt is an internally driven emotion. You are essentially the only one who dictates how much guilt you feel when coping with your own actions (or lack of). This holiday, if you find yourself feeling guilty, use it as a means of learning and positivity. Use the guilt you’re feeling as a way to change your actions in the future – ultimately leading to personal growth and evolution.
Once you begin to both make amends and change the way you think about your own experiences with guilt, you can start to finally forgive yourself. During times of reflection, it’s important to note that there are specific instances and reasons we do the things we do at the moment. If you’re still feeling guilty from something that happened years ago, remember that a part of the reason things turned out the way they did was because of the context, tools, and other battles you were fighting at the time.
While those things don’t necessarily excuse a poor past choice, it can help you be kinder and show more compassion to yourself when you remember you did what you could with all you had to work with at the time. We are all humans simply doing our best to get by each day. You’re supposed to make mistakes along your journey, the goal is to learn from them and do better in the future.
Say “No” to Unnecessary Guilt
Lastly, there is some guilt that you simply do not need to carry around with you. That guilt is normally the kind that stems when we feel bad for saying no to something. And usually, it’s something we aren’t able to handle at the time. We need you to know right now that you do not need to hold onto any kind of guild that stems from taking care of yourself. Period.
We’ve said it before and we will gladly say it again, you cannot fill the cups of others when your own pot is out of water. While we know you feel the pressure to say yes to everything during the holiday season, we hope you’ll keep some of that time to recharge yourself. Burnout is still burnout whether it stems from working too much or committing to too many holiday events. As silly as it may sound, start to practice saying “no”, or writing out how you would turn something down. The more you practice and prep yourself to say “no”, the easier it will be when the time comes to actually say it!
Letting Go of Guilt This Holiday with CPA
Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. The next time a challenge comes your way, reflect on this information and recognize if you fall into patterns of “unreal guilt”. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life throws at us and begin to reduce chronic stress. At CPA, we will always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has one locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about our counseling services can help teach you the skills to cope with guilt and stress management.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Dave Lori – LPC
Dave has had the honor and privilege of working in the mental health field for the past 20 years. His experience ranges from family-systems work to individualized-focus. His clinical orientation ranges from client-centered, solution-focused, humanistic and Existential approach. Dave believes in providing a strength-based, supportive, authentic and non-judgmental approach to the therapeutic process. We all face various challenges and have the ability to reach our personal goals given the independent choices we make each day.