Credit to Realtor Pat Collins for this great contribution on overcoming feelings of guilt and shame and feeling more accountable and empowered in your life!
Let’s face it: We have all experienced regret in life. Perhaps you behaved badly as a teenager and have carried that guilt with you into adulthood. Or maybe you feel shame about how a relationship ended. While it is a normal response that enables you to think about how not to make the same mistake again, it can also help reflect on what you can do to repair any damage you have caused. Letting guilt fester can be an unnecessary emotional burden, though, so it’s best to work through the issue and move into present.
Below are some top tips to deal with your guilt and move on:
*Write it down: Take a moment to write down exactly what you feel guilty about.
*Allow yourself to feel the emotions that might arise, like shame, embarrassment, frustration, and guilt. Enjoy Rumi’s poem “The Guest House” on the Personal Development Resources Page.
*Think about the real source of your emotions: Is the source of the guilt something you may be responsible for, or are you feeling shame because you survived a trauma? This exercise will give you a sense of strength because it helps you get clear on what parts may be yours to own and which are not.
*Once you are clear on the source of guilt, think about some possible solutions. For example, if you are a survivor, there is nothing to put right, but you may benefit from talking with a professional to resolve any shame you might have. If your guilt is something you can take responsibility for—like treating someone poorly or irresponsibly—then make a note of how you might help make things right.
*Make amends: From the list of guilts you are responsible for, make a plan to make amends, whether that’s apologizing or committing never to do something again if it is not possible to repair that particular relationship. The latter is called making “living amends,” or changing your choices/patterns moving forward, knowing you are not your past or your mistakes. Honor what past relationships/mistakes taught you by being better with each passing day. If your guilt is about an event that harmed you, decide what you can do to heal and make amends to yourself for carrying guilt about something that wasn’t your fault.
A life-changing program for many who experience persistent patterns of guilt and shame is called CODA (Codependents Anonymous). Learn more about engaging this recovery program to develop healthier, more honest and fulfilling relationships with yourself and others. Learn more on the resources page, at www.coda.org, or on the CODA YouTube channel here.
Recite the serenity prayer to differentiate what is and is not within your control when feeling shame/guilt, and consider how you might help extend peace to yourself and others.