Jan 042012
Guilt by Ramzi Hashisho

Guilt is the great paralyzer. Instead of taking action quickly to correct and resolve a mistake, guilt might prevent you from doing so. Everyone makes mistakes. There is no shame in that because we are all human. What truly matters is how you take action to clean up the mess. While feeling guilty after a mistake is natural, you must not allow your regrets to paralyze you from taking corrective measures. Yet this is no easy task. How then can you manage guilt better?

1. Understand, Accept and Forgive Yourself

Every action has a reason behind it. On hindsight, that reason might not seem logical or wise. But in the heat of the moment, it may have been the best available option to you. In any case, few people make good decisions in the midst of chaos. So do not blame yourself too greatly. The burden of guilt is heavy to bear. Instead, understand why you did what you did, forgive yourself and let go.

2. Learn from Mistakes

It is however not enough to forgive yourself and do nothing more. You also have to learn from your mistakes to avoid repeating them. Nothing changes if you keep on making the same mistake and feel guilty about it. If what you feel is genuine remorse, you must know why and where you went wrong so that you do not commit the same error again. This allows you to move on and grow as a person.

3. Take Action and Correct the Mistake

Finally, you must take action to correct your mistake if possible. Guilt by itself changes nothing. If there is a way to make amends, it will be prudent to do so quickly. If there is nothing that you can do directly, then find or create another way to atone for your mistake.

By channeling your guilt in a productive way, it makes it easier for you to let go and move on. After all, if you have done all you can and more to make amends and atone for your mistake, what else is there to do? From here on, you must forgive yourself, let go and move on.

Joyful by Marek Bernat

Taking Action

As we begin this New Year, let us start afresh. If there are some unresolved issues that you feel guilty about, take action as best as you can to resolve it. When you have done that, try to let go and put it behind you. If you should make mistakes this year, do not allow your guilt to paralyze you. Instead, take corrective action, forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes. This is the best way to manage guilt.

What are your thoughts on guilt? How do you manage guilt personally? Do share your thoughts and comments below! :)

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  18 Responses to “The Vizier on Dealing with Guilt”

  1. Hi Irving, I think guilt is often so paralyzing because it serves virtually no purpose. How many people do you know that changed the world because they were guilted into it. In fact, I can’t think of one positive purpose that guilt serves. Even the kind of guilt I experienced over the holidays when I was in my hometown and didn’t see my sick old grandpa. I felt guilty for not visiting him, but the reality was that he was a jerk most of my life. I don’t wish any ill will on him – don’t get me wrong. I love him as my grandfather and as a part of my family, but I don’t have any desire to spend time around him when all he does is complain and gripe out everyone in his family because he was miserable his entire life. I had to shove the guilt away and remind myself that it’s not wrong to not want to endure unwanted hostility. No one needs that and no one deserves that.

    Wow, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent. But it’s a reminder that guilt serves no purpose. Like you said, it’s important to learn from the things that don’t go according to plan or when we mess up. To guilt ourselves about it won’t teach us anything.

    Looks like I needed some therapy this morning. Thanks Irving. A very happy 2012 to you, my friend.
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..Why 2012 Year Will be the Year You KILL IT and Change Your Life!My Profile

    • Hi Bryan,

      A very happy 2012 to you and your loved ones! :)

      Yeap I agree fully. Guilt serves no purpose.

      Ah I know how difficult it must be to be around someone like your grandfather. I have seen people like that in my life. No, it’s not wrong to not want to endure unwanted hostility. At the very least, by staying away, you have not made things worse. If you can’t make things better, don’t make it worse. That certainly counts for something. :)

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  2. I should have read this before I wrote my post on regret this morning! I know what you say is true, but sometimes the grip of guilt is strong. I find that going through the steps you suggest is very helpful, but that it is not always a one time process. Sometimes I need to go back through the steps many times when the guilt resurfaces. Thank you for this timely advice.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Channeling Sarah PalinMy Profile

    • Hi Galen,

      Yes. Guilt is the path to the dark side and the grip of the dark side is strong. Furthermore, what you have is years of accumulated guilt if I am not mistaken, so it can be hard to let go of it all at once. I think you are your harshest critic?

      In this case, it is best to proceed slowly, step by step. Take as many times as you need to let go of your guilt. That is what truly matters in the end.

      I hope you will be able to find peace one day. :)

  3. Hi Irving,

    You have given powerful advice on how to let go of guilt. Guilt can stifle your life and leave you with regrets that you cannot let go of. I like number three – 3. Take Action and Correct the Mistake and then your advice to move on. We all do the best we can with what we know at the time, so I try to make all the amends I possibly can and then move on with life. Thanks for sharing your inspiring post.
    Cathy | Treatment Talk recently posted..101 Natural Highs for an Amazing Drug-Free LifeMy Profile

    • Hi Cathy,

      I believe that taking action is the key to dealing with any situation, including guilt. Instead of wasting energy to feed our guilt, why not use it constructively and attempt to resolve the source of our guilt if possible? Either way, we still use energy, so it is better to use it productively.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  4. Irving,

    The change of the year is a good time to let go of what is no longer useful like guilt. I appreciate this encouraging opportunity. I find that remorse is an ennobling quality, where guilt is a useless one. But I’ve been burdened by guilt often in the past. My sense is that for some of us it is connected with low-self esteem and somehow believing we are responsible for everything. Over time, I have been able to forgive by doing specific healing practices that allowed me to accept, as you point out here, that we are all human and make mistakes. Thanks you for helping us to no longer dwell in guilt.
    Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..Waking Up from the DreamMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      Guilt really isn’t useful for anything. It won’t be missed.

      You raise a good point. I did not differentiate between guilt and remorse in my article. At least remorse has the sense of taking action which is more in line with my views.

      That is another good point. I can see how guilt is connected to low self-esteem. I have also experienced what you say where we believe we are responsible for everything. It is truly disempowering. In the end, we should all learn to manage guilt better.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  5. Hi Irving,

    I don’t do guilt anymore. I sometimes do Regret. Occassionally I do Stupidty.

    However, there is nothing to do about the past, we only have this moment, over and over again. So…as you say, make amends where you can. Accept it if you aren’t forgiven. Do better next time. Try to see the lesson in it, if there is one (I imagine there always is one).
    Julie | A Clear Sign recently posted..The Puzzle Of Synchronicity And Setting Personal BoundariesMy Profile

    • Hi Julie,

      I also regret and do stupidity at times. But time keeps flowing forward relentlessly regardless. If there is nothing I can do about the past, it is best not to remain there too long.

      Indeed there is always a lesson to learn if we take the time to reflect on any situation.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  6. I also suppose that taking action is the solution of not every but most problems in our lives. Standing and doing nothing just postpone our further actions:)
    Anna recently posted..local dentistMy Profile

    • Hi Anna,

      Yes I believe that taking action is necessary to resolve most of the problems in our lives. If we do not make an effort, nothing will change. Every effort we make to influence events makes it more likely that we get the outcome we desire. And although our efforts might not always yield the results we desire, at least we know we tried.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  7. Hi Irving,

    Guilt is one of those silent killer of the soul. I really believe that in this world, letting go of whatever we have done before is o important to moving on. People who often find progress difficult in life are often bogged down by this guilt. Thanks for sharing something that many of us face with difficulty.
    Jimmy recently posted..Beginners’ Guide to NLP – Part 6 (Neurological Levels for Change in NLP)My Profile

    • Hi Jimmy,

      Yes, we must all learn to let go of our past and to move on. If there is something we can do to resolve issues, it is best to get it done quickly. But lingering or holding on to your past due to guilt changes nothing.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  8. Hi Irving,

    Guilt… I’ve definitely been there! You are absolutely right too… it paralyzes us in whatever state we were in when we had the guilt thrust upon us.

    While we all make mistakes, but very few ever enjoy admitting to theirs. The human mind is a funny thing. It would rather feel the discomfort of guilt, rather than letting the guilt go by facing what actually caused the guilt in the first place. Makes no sense, but to those that decide to do it; it makes all the sense in the world.

    I personally, have gotten a lot better at facing and letting my guilt go. I simply don’t like the feeling that comes with it. Not to mention, I think that it has long term affects that trigger terminal illnesses such as cancer, strokes, heart attacks and the such. It’s for that reason alone really that I choose not to allow guilt to hold up courtship in my life.

    Another great timeless topic though, Irving. This is the stuff that people need to be reading. I think the percentage of human beings operate out of these type emotions and never face them because they don’t know that it’s there or they avoid it because they have no desire to face them knowing that they’re there.

    Great stuff though. :)
    Deeone recently posted..Releasing My MindsetMy Profile

    • Hi Deeone,

      It takes great courage to admit a mistake. There are so many considerations that hold us back.

      The best way to avoid feeling guilty is to always be aware of the consequences of your actions. If you keep on doing the right thing, there will be less chances to feel guilty. But when you slip up and make mistakes, it is prudent to take responsibility and apologize quickly. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can put the whole incident behind you before it blows out of proportion.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

  9. forgiving yourself is the hardest i think… takes a lot of strength and courage to look oneself in the mirror and say “it’s ok, i forgive you”
    sometimes i still beat myself up for geting sick!!!
    Noch Noch
    Noch Noch | be me. be natural. recently posted..today I laughed: how is business done in China?My Profile

    • Hi Noch Noch,

      Yeah I know what you mean. I used to find it hard to forgive myself for a lot of things. But as I get older, I learn to let go. I realize I am not perfect and I do make mistakes from time to time. But this is simply because I am human and it is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. So it is ok since there is no running from it. It is what I do about problems that matters, not so much the problem itself since it has already happened.

      Forgiving myself is the first step to taking decisive action to do what needs to be done.

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comments! :)

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