Everyone feels guilty at some point in life, and this is a very common emotion when going through addiction recovery. Guilt is a normal emotion; it serves as part of your inner messaging system, so it is a valuable tool to help direct you in life. However, guilt can be a very heavy, mind consuming emotion that is even physically disabling at times, and it can contribute to other illnesses in the mind and body. For your overall wellness, you must learn how to forgive yourself and let go of guilt, which starts by evaluating your intentions and changing your perspective.

It is important to ask where your guilt is coming from and evaluate your intentions. Often times family, friends, and social pressures make us feel guilty because we do not do what others expect of us. Consider this scenario: You’ve been dating someone but don’t want to see them anymore. This makes that person feel bad, so you end up feeling guilty. However, your intentions were not to hurt this person; you were only following your heart, so you should not feel guilty. It’s not your responsibility to make choices based on other people’s expectations.

In other guilt-ridden scenarios, it’s helpful to change your perspective so you can see the good in the situation. Let’s say you acted out of anger or fear and made a conscious bad choice that led to hurting yourself or others. For instance, maybe you got in an argument with a loved one and said some things you didn’t mean. You feel very bad and guilty for acting so rashly, but maybe this argument was supposed to happen so you could learn about effective communication and talk to each other more calmly and reasonably in the future. Events that seem negative at the time can actually give all parties a chance to evaluate and better themselves. This is what it means to change your perspective about reasons you feel guilty.

Once you discover that guilt serves its purpose in life, you can take action to move beyond this negative emotion and learn how to avoid creating it in the future. Use the following suggestions to start letting go of your guilt today:

  • Talk nicely to yourself, and know that you deserve forgiveness
  • Change your internal story behind your self-image
  • Realize that your mistakes have helped you grow into who you are today
  • Explore your human experiences and why feelings such as guilt are pertinent
  • Build your faith, and dig deeper into your spiritual self and the meaning of life

Mistakes do not define you. You have the power to rewire your thoughts and unlock your mind to live happy and free whenever you choose.

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”
Gretchen Rubin