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This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

Everyone feels guilty sometimes

Guilt is a common cognitive or emotional state that stems from the perception of ones own wrong doing or inaction, whether that observation is accurate or not. A person feels guilty if they think they have done something that goes against their own values or violates the moral guidelines of the people around them. In a time when information is abundant and we are constantly bombarded with ideas telling us how we should be living our lives, it can be difficult to navigate our own desires and rationality. We feel guilty about what we eat, our appearance, how we conduct our relationships and how we raise our children. We compare ourselves to others more frequently than we should, because we are overwhelmed by immense diversity through mass, mainstream and social media.

It is easy to feel inadequate and ashamed

We over-scrutinize ourselves and our lives. The more we seek out information to guide us, the more incredulous and confused we become. We are now connected globally to how people live around the world. Not only are we starkly aware of our own privilege, we are also faced daily with the devastation and injustice that is experienced by others. It can make us feel powerless.

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Guilt can have a negative impact on our emotional, psychological and physical well being

Feelings of guilt can sometimes stem from childhood and they are so ingrained in us that we don’t even notice they are there. It can cause us to feel undeserving of success or happiness, often leading to behavior of self sabotage and mediocrity. It can make us prone to living vicariously through others instead of allowing us to be the truest and strongest version of ourselves. It can damage our relationship with our physical body by warping how we consume food, how we indulge in destructive habits and whether or not we take calculated risks. It can limit every aspect of how we live our lives, tainting it with dysfunctional patterns and habits that are hard to recognize let alone break. Even our physical posture can be connected to feelings of guilt. How we hold ourselves is indicative and a result of our truest feelings about ourselves.

It takes a lot of mental strength and tenacity to overcome guilt

We must accept that it is a natural and common human emotion that we don’t have to eliminate. In fact, we should instead embrace its presence and use it as a tool for helping us to evolve and grow. The lessons we obtain from guilt can drive us to become better people; to raise better children and to change the world in progressive and positive ways.

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This is how mentally strong people deal with guilt

Reflection rather than regret

Instead of wallowing in negative feelings and living defensively, we can become more assertive about recognizing when we are feeling guilty and why. We can become mentally stronger by addressing the issue and dealing with it rationally to use it to our advantage.

Discernment

A common saying these days is ‘first world problems’. In other words, sometimes we focus on trivial things that in the broader scope of our existence are really not that important compared to the tribulations of others. They are sources of discomfort that our survival is not dependent on. We need to be discerning about the things that make us feel guilty. Of course they are important to us personally, but we need to ask ourselves if they are a matter of life and death. Furthermore, we need to source information to help us understand our feelings. We can talk to others; friends, family or even a paid therapist. We can read and research. In this instance too, we need to discern what information is genuine and legitimate; and what is only perpetuating our guilt.

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Self determination

Once we know what is making us feel guilty and why, we then need to decide how we really feel about the matter, using all the information we have available to us. Then it is a question of commitment. We need to be mentally strong and confident enough to follow through with our own path without looking back. There is no point sitting on the fence or making a half hearted effort to console our feelings of guilt. Once we know what the source is and have established a course of action, the only way is to go forward.

Change

We must be willing to admit that we were wrong. Not only in the behavior that caused the original feelings of guilt, but sometimes in the solutions we have engaged in. Then we must embrace change. We should be willing to not only change our behavior, but also our minds. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We only need to be true to ourselves. Having the flexibility and tenacity to welcome change in our lives takes a lot of mental strength and courage. It also takes practice. Some people are confused by this because it appears hypocritical or contradictory. What they don’t understand is that to be truly strong we need to be malleable. We need to be willing to take on new information and allow a transformation, FOR THE BETTER, to occur.

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Learn

Learning occurs when we acquire new experiences and information and allow it to alter our consciousness. The only way to learn is to make mistakes and to become familiar with negative emotions. The more we ignore life’s lessons and bury feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy, the stronger and more destructive they become. We should never ignore guilt. We just need to practice understanding it. The more we do this, the better we become at dealing with it.

Forgive

A by product of experiencing guilt is to learn forgiveness. We don’t forgive others for hurting or pressuring us for their sake, we do it for ours. When we better understand where feelings of guilt stem from and how they influence our lives, we start to have more strength and space to practice empathy. We can imagine ourselves in the same situation as the people who have wronged us and make sense of their behavior and its impact on our psyche. Once we see things from their perspective, we can forgive them and in the process free ourselves from resentment. We can also get better at forgiving ourselves. Guilt is fundamentally a misunderstanding we have with ourselves. Once we understand our response to certain situations and why we act the way we do, we no longer punish ourselves; we make peace and find acceptance.

Move on

The whole point to understanding guilt and knowing how to process it is to help us to move forward. When we don’t, we get stuck in the same old ways. We can’t expect to achieve a different result if we don’t ever change the manner in which we do things. Reflecting upon the origin of our guilt feelings, becoming more empathetic to others and toward ourselves, committing to change and learning and becoming more self aware will allow us to face life’s difficulties with enthusiasm and resilience.

Featured photo credit: http://www.lizataitbailey.com/2015/11/what-to-do-when-youre-feeling-guilty.html via lizataitbailey.com

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Diane Koopman

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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