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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

So, how do mentally strong people deal with guilt?

1. 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.

2. 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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3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

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7. 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

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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