Vickie’s Blog Posts

What Causes Us to Feel Guilty and How to Overcome It

Hey, you know that unsettled feeling in your stomach? The hang-your-head, slink-away, don’t-even-look-at-me feeling? It’s guilt. You know it when you feel it and you may even know what’s causing it. But do you know what guilt is?

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What is Guilt?

Guilt is nothing more than making up a rule we think we need to follow and then breaking it.

Some Examples are…

  • Your rule might be “In order to lose weight, I have to stay on this diet.” Then you break the rule buying eating a piece of chocolate. This causes enormous guilt.
  • Your rule could be “Good parents spend time with their kids.” Then you get busy at work and neglect them which causes guilt.
  • Your rule might be “Good sales people offer customers products that would be good for them.” Because your company has discontinued paying commissions on what would be best for your client, you sell them something else. You feel guilty.

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What Causes a Guilt Cycle

Notice how no matter what we do to relieve guilt it never fades away? It’s like a never-ending cycle. I’ll explain why.

1   Remember, the only way we can feel guilty is to start by making up a rule we think we need to follow and then try to follow it.

Our example… “A loving parent stays home when their kids are younger.”

2   We start feeling deprived.

Our example… We need more money to pay the bills.

3   We then break the rule.

Our example… We get a job.

4   We begin to feel guilty about breaking the rule.

Our example… We think we are hurting our kids in some way.

5   We try to relieve the guilt.

Our example… We buy our kids whatever they want to make up for it.

And here we go again…

1   We create another rule to follow to try to relieve the guilt.

Our example… “Good parents who work give their kids anything they want.”

2   We feel deprived again.

Our example… There is not enough money to pay all the bills and give our kids what they want.

3   One or both of the rules are broken.

Our example… Then we work longer hours to get a promotion or take on an extra job.

And so on…

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How to Overcome Feeling Guilty

You don’t have to be stuck with that churning feeling in your gut called guilt. Many times we don’t even consider whether guilt is something we can overcome. We just assume we must live with it like a bad haircut. But guilt can be transformed.

Remember guilt is nothing more than making up a rule or belief we think we need to follow and then breaking it.

Here are Three Ways to Release Guilt…

1   We can make up a NEW rule to follow. The key is to replace something you have to “do” with a “positive emotion.”

An example is… The original rule was “Good parents spend time with their kids.” If we change it to “Good parents love their children,” the guilt is released.

2   We can THROW OUT the old rule completely.

An example is… The original rule was “In order to lose weight, I have to stay on this diet.” Simply toss out the old rule with a thought of, “Thanks for sharing, but I don’t believe that rule any longer.  I can lose weight in hundreds of ways.”

3   We can admit we did something that didn’t make us feel good about ourselves and then do something about it that WILL.

An example is: The original rule might have been “Good salespeople offer customers products that would be good for them.” Rather than selling your client a product to earn a commission, you decide instead to follow your original rule whether you get paid for it or not. In the long run, it will pay off in ways you cannot imagine.

In Conclusion

Guilt feels awful!!! But it doesn’t have to continue to eat us up inside. We can begin to see guilt as a signal that something about our beliefs or behaviors needs to change.

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Did you know Feeling Guilty causes you to feel Unworthy?

I have a self-study course or program that helps you change the mindset you have about yourself to be able to finally feel worthy. For more details.

Also check out the Quiz, How Worthy Do You Feel?

If you need help forgiving yourself, contact Vickie Champion for coaching and consulting sessions.

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