Years ago, I heard this really awesome speaker talking about all sorts of “tools” for living a happy, healthy and productive life.
When he talked about “guilt” he made a bold statement that I immediately thought was a crock. But later I came to realize he was absolutely right. He said, if you’re feeling guilty, it means you have a decision to make.
I wasn’t the only one in the audience with a furrowed brow and a mumble of disagreement ready on my lips. He explained further…
A person feels guilty because they have done something (or haven’t done something) that they shouldn’t (or should). Sometimes it’s a big thing. Sometimes it’s a small thing. Guilt involves a conflict of the person’s actions or emotions going against their view of what they should be doing instead.
A person might feel guilty because they are not the type of person who would do <insert thing here that they did> and it’s agonizing them.
How do you break free of guilt?
The bottom line is you DO have a decision to make. You have to own up to how you feel (your moral compass) and face that. And then you have to handle it.
EXAMPLE: If a person feels guilty because he is cheating on his girlfriend, then he has to face the decision of, “Do I really want to be in a relationship with my girlfriend or not?” And then he needs to have the tough conversations that go with that and face the consequences. That can be hard and scary. But it would be necessary to free himself of the guilty feeling.
Or to take a more mundane example, if a person feels guilty because they are trying get fit and they just binged on junk food, then they need to come to terms with their goals and their commitment level to them. How do they honestly feel about their fitness level? What’s an achievable exercise and nutrition plan that will get them to their goal?
It’s not always easy. But it is possible.