Don’t Let Guilt Get in the Way of Happiness: Stop it Before it Stops You!

GUILT is one of the most common self sabotaging feelings my clients struggle with. Guilt can create tremendous internal pressure, causing us to make choices that lead us away from our passion, purpose, and true self. When we give in to guilt this way, over and over again, it ultimately changes our life’s destination.

Is guilt sabotaging your life? Do you find yourself settling for or doing things that you don’t want – just to get rid of guilt? Find out how to stop falling victim to this affliction and learn how to resolve guilt without sacrificing who you are.

“You wear guilt
Like shackles on your feet
Like a halo in reverse”
DEPECHE MODE, “Halo”

Having guilt is natural – it occurs when we stray from an obligation we have to be true and honest to oneself, and others. I call this True Guilt. However, the guilt that typically holds us back or gets in our way is something different: I call it Fake Guilt, or Self Inflicted Guilt. This type of guilt occurs as a result of not being (or doing) what we think other people believe we should be (or do). For most of my clients, it is this guilt that stops them from taking the actions that would bring them closer to their happiness, passion, and purpose.

When we are young, guilt shows up in its true form, keeping us on the “straight and narrow” of life. As we get older, our guilt strays from its intended purpose, as a moral compass, and slowly turns against us. It becomes a mechanism that holds us hostage to other people’s expectations – expectations which may even be imagined! Ultimately, we become experts in self sabotage, leaving us frustrated and angry.

How do we resolve guilt in a way that will set us truly free? The answer comes in the form of a question. The next time you catch yourself feeling guilty, ask yourself: “Whom do I owe, and what do I owe them?”

If there is an answer to that question that rings true and feels honest, you are probably dealing with True Guilt. In that case, you can take concrete action to resolve the guilt. Doing so, the guilt will be gone and you will be acting in a way that honors your morals and values.

If, however, you can’t satisfactorily answer that question, it is a good bet that this guilt is an imposter! Unknowingly, you are using guilt as a means to keep you stuck – you are being held captive by your own thoughts.

Once you recognize your guilt is of the fake, self inflicted kind, you are in control – in that moment, the power shifts back to you. You (and only you) are capable of releasing it – give yourself permission to let the guilt go.

If you find yourself unable to let it go, try this exercise: carry around a weight – a physical weight – around your ankles or waist. This symbolizes the weight you are carrying around by holding on to the guilt. When you are ready to take off the weight, you are ready to release the guilt.

So: are you a victim of self inflicted guilt? Will you let it take over your life, or will you take control and let it go?

“Guilt isn’t always a rational thing….Guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not.” – Maureen Johnson

Suzanne HermusDon’t Let Guilt Get in the Way of Happiness: Stop it Before it Stops You!