We’ve all felt it—the heavy weight of guilt on our shoulders, the feeling that we’re not good enough, or the sign that something isn’t right. It’s unnatural to feel guilt all the time, yet it’s something that many of us struggle to cope with. Guilt is an emotion that holds us back, but it doesn’t have to define us. If we learn to handle it better, we can recognize our triggers and release the guilt that we’ve been holding onto.
Definition of Guilt
When feeling guilty, it can be hard to know how to handle it or even where to start. Guilt can be defined as a feeling of responsibility or regretting something you believe you have done wrong. It acts as an emotional motivator for us to take action and strive to do better. Excessive guilt can hurt our mental health. It can also hold us back from doing certain things, progressing, and being our true selves.
There are many sources for feeling guilt: regretting not spending enough time with family, doubting a decision you made, or feeling like you don’t measure up to expectations. Whatever the source, it can often feel impossible to move on, which is why it’s important to learn how to better handle these feelings. One way to do this is by acknowledging and expressing how you feel. You don’t need to be ashamed or embarrassed. By expressing how you feel and where it stems from, you can begin to understand your triggers.
From there, you can identify coping strategies to help you take action. Learning to set boundaries is important here. Say no when you can’t or don’t want to do something or communicate your needs and expectations in a respectful, assertive way. And finally, it’s important to remember that saying sorry does not always fix things. Learn effective coping mechanisms and focus on letting go and moving forward.
Better Ways to Handle Guilt
Acknowledging and expressing your feelings can be tough, especially when it comes to guilt. It can often feel frightening to verbalize how you feel or to assertively express your needs and expectations. If you feel guilty all the time, begin by understanding your triggers. What’s causing you to feel guilt? Maybe there was a disagreement with a friend, or difficulty understanding a task. Understanding why you are feeling guilty and the types of triggers that set it off is the first step in taking control.
Then, identify coping strategies that work for you. Think about activities that help you de-stress and make use of those when feeling guilty. Maybe it’s going for a walk, taking a break from the situation, talking to a friend, or writing down your thoughts.
Utilize these strategies to help you move past persistent guilt. While coping with your guilt, it’s important to remember that constant apologetic behavior isn’t helpful. Trying to be a people pleaser or trying to make everyone happy can lead to a feeling of guilt weighing you down, but know that apologizing isn’t always going to fix the problem.
And finally, take care of yourself. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and take the time to focus on your self-care. Doing this can help you cope with guilt in an empowering way.
Putting it into Practice
To put your newfound knowledge about coping with guilt into practice, start by understanding your triggers and learning to set boundaries. Be assertive with yourself and respect your feelings when something does not sit right with you. When something triggers a feeling of guilt or shame, acknowledge it and express it as it arises. Have a plan of action ready in case you do feel guilty. This could be going for a walk, talking to a friend, or engaging in a hobby.
Refraining from saying sorry and learning to move on is an important part of coping with guilt. It’s important to realize that saying sorry isn’t always helpful, and in many cases not necessary. Apologizing too often can be a sign of insecurity and can hold you back from expressing yourself authentically. Cultivating a healthy relationship with guilt can propel you forward in a more empowering and meaningful way.
No one can escape the feeling of guilt. It’s an emotion that motivates us to take the right path, but it can sometimes hold us back from progressing. Learning how to cope with guilt is an important skill to have. By understanding our triggers, identifying coping strategies, and setting boundaries, we can begin to manage our guilt in an empowering way. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. You can learn to let go and move on. So, don’t be afraid to express your feelings, focus on your self-care, and remember: you don’t always have to say sorry.
Want tailored support to help you overcome your feelings of guilt? Therapy could be a great option for you! Call or text us at 844-867-8444 to learn more and get matched with one of our expert therapists. You deserve to feel better!