How to Stop Feeling Guilty over Just About Everything
“Sometimes I just want to paint the words “It’s my fault” across my forehead to save people the time of being pissed off at me.” – Christina Westover
I’m a really bad person.
It shows in my face.
Guilty as charged my eyes say.
You see, I’m a really bad person.
How do I know?
Guilt told me so.
But you know what?
Guilt can go to hell!
I’ve had it with guilt. I’m done being a patsy, a whipping boy, a scapegoat. I refuse to lose any more of my life to all the guilty feelings I’ve dragged behind me like a ball and chain.
This guilt trip has reached its final destination.
And unless you’ve got a dead body, a spade and a bag of lime in the trunk of your car, yours should to.
You Never Started The Fire.
Blaming yourself for, oh yeah, everything, is so ingrained it’s become who you are.
You’ve confused the fact that you care, that you have a conscience, with the mistaken idea that you are somehow responsible for all the wrong in the world.
- Just because you can see something, doesn’t mean you need to put it right.
- Just because you can feel something, doesn’t mean you need to suffer for it.
- Just because at some point you had to walk away to sort out your own pressing problems doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
Guilt be damned!
Your life and mine aren’t at the expense of someone else’s.
- Eating doesn’t mean someone else starves.
- Laughing doesn’t mean someone else cries.
- Drawing breath doesn’t mean someone else suffocates.
And yet you act as if it did. The words ‘It’s all my fault‘ are practically etched on your forehead.
You’re always trying to make amends for something you never meant. Always trying to sort out the mess you never made. Forever trying to do the right thing.
Then why do you still feel guilty as hell?
Why is it that you feel you’ve never apologized enough, never fully atoned for your sins or never completely righted the wrong?
Why have you given yourself a life sentence of guilt?
Because the sentence doesn’t fit the crime, because there is no crime.
Because you’re not guilty.
- Have you embezzled funds from a children’s orphanage?
- Have you insulted and demeaned everyone you’ve ever come into contact with?
- Do you have that body in the boot of your car?
You didn’t do wrong in the first place.
Messing up, making mistakes, telling someone ‘no’ isn’t wrongdoing – it’s being human.
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Almost invariably, you did right. You feel that you could have done more, but in truth, you did more than you needed to, more than most people would have done.
Guilt can go to hell! For all eternity.
You see, you’re a really good person.
How do I know?
Because you told me so…
- In the way you tried to please your parents, even though it seemed you could never win their approval.
- In the way you tried to make up for your harsh words to your partner, spoken out of character in the heat of the moment.
- In the way you tried to help your kids make the right choices in life so they would have the best chance to grow up happy and fulfilled.
In the way you tried to make a difference in the world in your own way, every day.
Set Yourself Free
Answer me this, and answer me honestly:
If everyone acted like you do most of the time, what would the world be like?
Would it be kind? Safe? Helpful? Warm? Friendly? Fair?
99% of the time, yes!
And the 1%? Hey, we all have off days, it’s called being human, remember? You might as well feel guilty because you’re not immortal or psychic.
You and I have shuffled up to the gallows of guilt for crimes we never committed one too many times.
But now I’m demanding a re-trial. For you and me. For all the good, guilt-ridden people out there.
Come take the witness stand. Let the jury decide. At least they’ll give you a fair trial, that’s more than you’ve given yourself.
I’ll kick off, and I swear to tell the whole truth.
This is what has stopped me feeling worthwhile or of any value my whole life. Here’s goes, my life’s guilty crime sheet:
- My parents worked hard and paid even harder to send me to private school. On my part I tried hard, but I haven’t translated that education into what they would think of as an illustrious career. There’s no six figure sum with my name on it, no shiny brass plaque on my office door. (I don’t even have an office door as such).
- I have sometimes put the cardboard inner of the toilet roll in the trash, not the recycling, because it’s easier and I feel lazy.
- My friends’ feelings have been bruised by the odd thing I’ve said or done even though I apologized until I was blue. It takes a while for the sting to stop stinging.
- I go away for holidays because I don’t like family rows. I moved abroad to get some peace.
- My gorgeous husband sometimes only gets the bits of me that are left over after a busy day – he deserves a lot, lot more. I don’t have any more puff.
- I don’t cry sometimes when something bad happens thousands of miles away. I always try and give some money, but some months there isn’t any left.
- Social events can be really dull – I stay home in my pyjamas instead and have my kind of fun.
- I’m less productive than I could be on days I stayed up late enjoying myself.
- My house is mucky in the farthest corners. We have doggie house guests all the time, so I can’t see the point.
- I wish I could have a little time on my own sometimes. No talking, no planning, no anything unless I fancy it.
- Dinner sometimes comes out of a packet. And it tastes great.
- There are some relationships I don’t want to keep. They don’t nurture either of us. We don’t benefit each other.
- There are some relationships I could have tried a bit harder with, could have been more understanding in. I’m sorry.
- I create trash and am grateful that someone else deals with it. I don’t want to.
- I don’t really know how much money I spend each month, and I don’t really care.
- I drive to work instead of walking or cycling. With the time I save, I watch the birds outside my window as I breakfast. It gives me an enormous sense of well-being and I leave the house calm and peaceful. So I feel I’m being emotionally – if not environmentally – friendly.
- Recently I lost fifteen pounds – that means I’d eaten a whole load of extra stuff I didn’t need. Some people are hungry and I spent money I could have given, in thinner hindsight. But I support a children’s orphanage every month with a small donation, so I’m doing what I can.
- I’m lucky as hell, super healthy, loved implicitly by my hubby and have always had some kind of roof over my head – but I still sometimes wish I had a few other things.
- I don’t always exercise – gyms are hell-holes in my opinion. I don’t even pay the fee and then not show up, they just don’t feature.
- Not everyone I’ve met have I wanted as my new best friend. Sorry if that was you.
All I want you to realize in the grand scheme of life, is that we’re actually the good guys. You and I.
And if you ever catch me buying a bag of lime, then you can call the cops.
Until then let’s put Guilt on trial.
For conning us into believing we have committed crimes we never have. For robbing us of our happiness and peace of mind.
Let’s imprison Guilt – and set ourselves free.
To be the positive, happy souls we were born to be.
Join The Guilt-Free Movement And Set Yourself Free
Join us! Pick from the list above (or add your own) and leave a comment starting ‘I refuse to feel guilty any more because…’ to inspire others to live guilt-free. (e.g. I refuse to feel guilty any more because I’ve never won my parents approval’ or ‘I refuse to feel guilty any more because I like my own company.’)
Laura Tong is on a mission to help you live guilt free and become the positive, happy soul you were born to be. Grab her free cheat sheet: 5 Guilt-Free Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict) and follow Laura on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Adina Voicu.