3 Things to Tell Yourself When You’re Feeling Guilty
posted on August 16, 2018 | by Amanda Holstein
Does anyone else feel some form of guilt nearly every day? I feel guilty about things I can’t control, about things I’m fully allowed to do, and about things I really have no reason to feel guilty about! Whether I told a friend I couldn’t help her, or I feel bad that a coworker got laid off over me, guilt is such a common emotion that plays into our everyday lives way more than it should. So, what should you do when you’re feeling guilty? Remember this:
1. Putting yourself first does not make you selfish.
One thing we tend to feel guilty about is putting ourselves first. For example, sometimes I feel guilty that I didn’t clean the apartment before my fiance comes home because I needed to work. I chose to put my needs first, but that’s ok! Putting yourself first does not mean you are a selfish person. We need to take care of ourselves in order to care for the people around us.
You know on the airplane when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others? I always thought that was wrong — that you had to put your child before you. But my therapist actually made me realized that I was wrong. If I put my child first in that situation, then I may pass out and not be able to care for my child.
The point is, you need to be in a good place in order to participate in the world around you and be able to serve others. So don’t feel guilty if you need to put yourself first. It’s completely necessary and does not make you selfish!
2. You can’t control what other people feel.
It’s easy to blame yourself when someone else feels bad or to think that your words/actions “caused” someone else pain. But in reality, you have no control over anyone else’s emotions but your own. It is completely up to others to determine how something makes them feel.
Now, I’m not saying to go around and be mean to people. But maybe your friend is upset with you because you couldn’t attend her bachelorette party. Or a coworker is pissed that you got the promotion over them. You have literally no control over how your friend or coworker feels. And their feelings are a reflection on what’s going on within themselves, what pressures they put on themselves, their current situation, etc. They are not a reflection on you or your actions.
3. Our actions alone do not define us.
That’s right, they don’t. First of all, you get to decide what defines you. You are so much more than your actions. You are your character, your strength, your mind, and so much more. So if you are feeling guilty about something you did, remember that those actions do not define you. Maybe you said something to your friend out of anger or forgot to do something your boyfriend asked you to do. It’s great if the guilt leads you to apologize or want to be better, but if it’s eating at you and making you feel like an awful person, then it is not serving you well. Things happen, we make mistakes, we aren’t perfect.
So before you start feeling guilty about feeling guilty all the time, just slow down and be aware of your feelings. Observe them, do not judge them, and give yourself a freakin’ break!