Many harbor a lot of guilt about things that may have happened in the past. Maybe you feel you did something unforgivable and you deserve to be punished for it. Maybe you feel that’s the reason you are suffering so much now. Most likely, it’s something that wasn’t your fault, but you’ve been carrying the guilt around for years.
Sure, there are certain things you might have done in the past or present that were not right. Dwelling on them and beating yourself up over and over again will only cause negative, non-productive feelings about yourself. You are trying to change that. You can start learning how to forgive yourself.
Rules for Letting Go of Guilt:
1. Analyze your wrongdoing. Make sure you do this maturely, with a realistic, open mind. This may be difficult at first, but like anything else, it gets easier each time you do it.
2. If your wrongdoing is something you can apologize for, do so. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed. If you feel you hurt or mistreated someone, find a way to let him or her know you are sorry. This is extremely important in order for you to let go and move on. You will be amazed at the relief you feel.
3. Set a time limit on your guilt. How long will you suffer for this mistake? An hour? A day? A year? Hopefully not a year! Take some time alone and think about what you did. Reflect on why it happened. What was the situation at the time? What can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? What can you learn from it so you can give yourself something positive from the experience? How about credit for growing, learning and becoming more responsible? Doesn’t this sound better than beating yourself up and making yourself feel bad? You get absolutely nothing from that – except sickness.
4. Adapt an “Oh well, I’m human” attitude. It gives you the freedom to make mistakes, which gives you the freedom to take chances. Everyone makes mistakes. The smart ones forgive themselves, learn from their errors and move on to try again.
5. Let go. Say out loud to yourself, “I forgive myself for that. It’s over and done. I’m not going to waste precious moments by dwelling on the past. Life is too short. I choose to be happy now.” Guilt is just that - a waste of precious time.
Letting go of guilt is very difficult. But it is possible and it’s extremely freeing. The Attacking Anxiety and Depression program can help. Since 1983, the program has helped over 1 million people to recover from acute stress, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive worry, guilt, and depression.