Guilt is an emotional discomfort you feel when you believe that you were responsible for something that offended or hurt someone else.
Guilt can be legitimate – you may have made a mistake and you regret your words or actions, causing you to feel guilty. However, there are times when guilty feelings are unwarranted – you may have taken on guilt for something you didn’t do or something you did that wasn’t actually wrong.
Depression, poor self-esteem, self-harm and strained relationships are just a few of the possible results of living in guilt for long periods of time. To maintain good mental health, it is important to acknowledge guilty feelings and work toward forgiving yourself.
Signs guilt is weighing you down may include feeling unworthy, being paralyzed by the past, having unresolved issues, struggling to forgive yourself, acting defensive and distant, and feeling afraid of trying again. To live a full life, you must let go of your past mistakes.
The first step: Reality testing. Reality testing is an important first step toward self-forgiveness. Guilt can distort your perception of yourself, your situations and your view of others. Before that guilt can be eliminated, you must first determine whether your guilt is valid. Were you truly responsible for what happened? Does it make logical sense for you to feel so badly about the situation? Questions like these help you determine whether it makes sense for you to feel guilty.
Forgiving yourself after offending someone or doing them wrong takes self-reflection and commitment to make changes.
If you determine that your guilt is unjustified, make a conscious, active effort to let go of it.
If you are struggling with letting go of your guilt, Centerstone is here to help. Call us at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) or visit centerstone.org/connect-with-us/ to get connected with care.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
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