Remember the flip side of guilt. Right any outstanding wrongs. Challenge hindsight bias. Challenge your assumptions on a lack of justification. Challenge a sense of responsibility. Challenge the thinking error of wrongdoing. But at the same time taking responsibility for your role and actions, as it was at the time. Feeling it, feeling remorse if required and letting go.
Let's explore each a little further.
In fact, at the University of British Columbia, a pair of researchers set out to determine the opposite of psychopathy—that is, being a psychopath—and found that a significant part of the answer is a tendency to feel guilt. Plus, a predisposition to guilt often goes together with honesty, cooperation, consideration, and conscientiousness—all good things that the researchers dubbed "compassionate morality."
1. Right any outstanding wrongs.
Of course, not all guilt is an illusion. If you feel guilty about a wrong you haven’t right, go ahead and make amends. Yes, it’s awkward to reach out. Yes, you’ll find a million reasons not to. But most likely, you’ll be glad you did. If nothing else, a heartfelt apology and offer to make things right will soothe your own conscience.
2. Remember the flip side of guilt.
Guilt makes us feel lower than a worm’s belly. But the fact that we can feel guilt is actually a good sign. Guilt is a sign of empathy and a signal that we care about not hurting others.
3. Challenge hindsight bias.
A lot of what the mental health knowledge about guilt comes from research undertaken with combat veterans. War is rife with opportunities to feel guilty: guilty about killing the enemy, guilt about enjoying killing the enemy, guilt about killing or displacing civilians, guilt over surviving when others died, guilt about violating the “no man left behind” creed, guilt over feeling disconnected or alienated after coming home, and more. In hindsight we could have always acted or behaved differently. Been more aware of how our actions and behaviours affect others. However, on most occasions we are only acting and behaving in ways because of our learning, conditions of worth and limited resources to do or be better. If it was a sheer selfish act, then go back to step 1.
4. Challenge a sense of responsibility.
The third thinking error is a concept called over responsibility, where we believe we were solely or mostly responsible for what occurred. Classic examples are when kids blame themselves for their parents’ fighting, or rape survivors blame themselves for the assault.
5. A guilty, suffering spirit is far more open to love and grace than an uncaring or smug soul.
So, in a backward way, it’s good news if you’re feeling like you’ve done wrong – it means you actually care to be better than you have been. And starting now, you can be. Everyone deserves a second chance. Give yourself permission to have that chance. You deserve it too.
6. There’s no reason to feel perpetually guilty for making a sincere mistake.
To make a mistake is to be human. Mistakes are part of life – everyone makes them, and everyone feels a little guilty sometimes. But – and this is a BIG BUT – some people learn from their mistakes and some end up making the same ones again and again. It’s up to you to decide if you’ll learn from your mistakes and use them to your advantage. Alternatively, get support to find out the reasons you are continuing to repeat the same patterns, that are causing you distress. https://www.christinaluke.com/
7. Some people like passing guilt and blame on to others.
Beware of this. It’s strange the way someone who wants to play the blame game and find you guilty can pass judgment, tell stories, and actually make you believe in your own guilt, even when you know you’re innocent (or deserve forgiveness). Beware of this phenomenon and don’t condemn yourself just to satisfy other people’s drama.