get rid of guilt dog

How to Get Rid of Guilt

emotional rescue Jun 15, 2023

One of my catchphrases is that guilt is a useless emotion. But that's not always true. If guilt from doing something horrible teaches you not to do that horrible thing again, then we can say guilt has about an ounce of usefulness. 

But more often than not with my clients (and myself!), I find guilt causes much more harm and headaches than good. Here are six things to know about guilt. 

Guilt can be a sign of low self-esteem.  

Guilt can stem from not feeling “good enough” to enjoy whatever we feel guilty about enjoying. Or, in the case of survivor guilt, not worthy enough to be alive when other people died. 

Guilt may be a way to punish ourselves. 

Guilt is the PERFECT way to blame ourselves for…whatever. This can be especially handy when whatever happened is not our fault. Grief is one of the places where guilt likes to lurk. When my soul mate dog Sawyer died, I hung on to the guilt for years. 

“If only I would have done this, that or the other thing…he might have lived! It’s all my fault!”

Hint: No, it wasn’t. It wasn’t my fault. And there’s a good chance that some of the things you may be feeling guilty about aren’t your fault, either.

This is when guilt is a totally useless emotion, a form of self-punishment that may once again stem from low self-esteem. If we continue to blame ourselves and feel horrible, we stay small and helpless – just where our ego sometimes wants us to stay. This particularly holds true if we working on BIG changes would break us free of our mind-forged manacles (and the ego trap). The ego, alas, is going to cry out for survival! 

Guilt is at the bottom of the vibrational barrel.

 Guilt has a vibrational scale rating of 18, which is on the same level as blame, resentment and depression. It’s only one rung higher than the lowest rung of shame, unworthiness and addiction.

Guilt is good at making us very uncomfortable – on all levels.

Guilt can come with a slew of physical side effects, as well as emotional, mental and even spiritual maladies.

Signs of guilt can include: 

  • Excessive or even obsessive attempts to make things right
  • Inability to make eye contact
  • Facial flushing, anxiety, nausea
  • Trouble sleeping, headaches
  • Depressed mood, appetite changes
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Avoidance of things linked to the guilt

Guilt can bring on:

  • Fear
  • Disgust and disgrace
  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Sense of inferiority

Guilt, shame and embarrassment are three different things.

 Guilt comes from falling short of our own standards. It’s often accompanied by the red-flag word of “should” and its friends “woulda” and “coulda.”

“I feel so guilty! I should have known better!”

Shame comes from falling short of society’s standards.   

“How shameful! No respectable person would act like that!”

Embarrassment comes when an aspect of ourselves that we’d prefer to keep protected is exposed, and we think people will think less of us because of it.

“I’m so embarrassed! Now everyone is going to know I’ve been fired 203 times!”

More important than knowing the difference among the three, however, is knowing how to work through and eliminate them.

How to get rid of guilt (and shame and embarrassment).

The first step is to determine WHY you feel guilty. Did a certain incident bring on the guilty feeling? What aspect of the incident do you feel guilty about? 

The next step is to determine if:

  • You really did something wrong
  • You just think you did something wrong, even though you didn’t
  • Someone else is making you think you did something wrong, even though you don’t think it was wrong

 This will help you decide the best way to get rid of it. 

  • If you did something wrong, make amends to make it right.
  • If you only think you did something wrong, get rid of that thought. Work through it. Write about it. Talk about it. Forgive yourself. Ask Spirit to remove it. Release!
  • If someone else is making you think you did something wrong even though you don’t feel it was wrong, tell them to go fly a kite (in a nice way). Guilt is sometimes used as a form of manipulation – beware! 

Working through guilt is easier when you examine where your guilt is coming from and can determine the best action to take to eradicate it. Whether you DIY or get help from a coach, giving guilt the heave-ho is a must to make room for joy.

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