Getting Rid of Guilt

Posted 2014-02-21 by nicholafollow

Guilt is something I’m sure a lot of people experience regularly, but don’t realise just how detrimental it is to their psyche. I’m not just talking about guilt in general; this particular guilt is over the small things in everyday life which brings on a sort of anxiety or stress.

For explanations sake, the things that I currently feel guilty about include:

  • Not finishing the book I have been reading for a couple of weeks.

  • Not relaxing more on my university holidays.

  • Not having as much journalistic experience as some of my peers.

  • Having too many clothes and shoes I don’t wear.

  • Not making enough time for my friends, and therefore am I self-sabotaging my friendships in some cases.

  • Not calling my dad often enough.

  • Not visiting my grandma often enough.

  • Not taking advantage of my youth and travelling more.

  • Not saving enough money.

  • Not being nicer to my mum as a teenager.

  • Going on Facebook too much, and so forth.

  • The point is: if you have these kinds of thoughts in the back of your mind all the time, you’re going to be pretty anxious and miserable.

    I know that some of these things may sound ridiculous but take time to think about or observe your daily or weekly routine. Are you constantly kicking yourself for being slack in your workplace, or not achieving as much as someone else? Sometimes jealousy can turn in to guilt when you reflect on someone else’s achievement back on yourself as a failure. The point is whatever form your guilt takes, I’m sure it rears its ugly head at least some point during your week, and for some people it happens more often than others. Here’s how I try to manage the many forms of guilt I experience.

    1. People-related guilt:

    If it’s a family issue, or to do with a friendship gone awry; identify the problem in the relationship and try to solve it. For example if you have lost a friend due to your own actions, and you are aware that it is your fault; sometimes the only way to get over it is to apologise. Even if you don’t get your friend back, you can move on and sleep at night. On the contrary, sometimes we have to be able to recognise when it is not our fault and let the other person go so we can get on with our lives.

    2. Workplace-related guilt:

    If you are feeling guilty for not achieving enough in your career; think seriously about what you have to do to get where you want to be and work towards it. Sometimes advancement in certain circumstances is impossible, and you have to accept that. Think of how far you’ve come, and maybe keep your options open for employment elsewhere.

    3. Money-related guilt:

    If you are always stressing over money and feel guilty spending it on yourself; then get a good budget going. See my previous article “Foolproof Budgeting” for some tips. You also need to realise that you work hard, and that while you still have to pay your bills, you can spend some money on yourself because you go to work 38 hours a week or stay at home and look after your kids 168 hours a week, and you’ve earned it.

    4. Small stuff-related guilt:

    I have not finished reading my book yet. But that is okay because I have been doing other things, and reading is supposed to be a leisurely activity. Take a deep breath and realise how unjustified your guilt it is.

    Lessons Learned:

    1. Fix your relationships, or let them go so you can get on with life.

    2. Work towards your goals, or find a new one if you can’t in your current situation.

    3. Budget properly, and you’ll have no need to feel guilty spending money on yourself.

    4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.


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