This blog shares 5 ways to cope with guilt. There may be experiences in your life that you hold guilt from. Whether this is something you’ve said or did not say, a behavior you exhibited, or a way you affected others, it’s common to feel guilt for letting other people down, or even letting ourselves down. Overall, disappointment or regret can be a heavy weight on our shoulders.


Guilt can hold us back from growing, causing us to replay the event over and over in our mind. This is due to us wanting an alternative ending, but not being able to go back in time and start over. We may feel stuck ruminating on our past. When we are able to take steps towards self-forgiveness, we can experience personal-growth, increased self-love, and healthier relationships.


Coping with guilt is possible, even if it has been lingering for quite some time. You may struggle with feelings of hopelessness, that you will never be able to experience relief. It can be shameful to talk about, therefore you keep it tightly stored inside of you. Ultimately, this can cause on-going distress, and may not heal on its own.


The five ways to cope with guilt include: maintaining compassion for yourself by practicing self-forgiveness and positive self-talk. Understand if there is a reason for you to feel guilty, such as if the other person has already forgiven you. Remind yourself of all the positive things you do/have done, as this event does not fully define you. Understand that it’s ok to have needs. Finally, make amends or find ways to repair what has been done. 


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While we may feel that making ourselves feel guilty can teach ourselves a lesson, it is ultimately not healthy and can delay true healing. 


5 Ways to Cope with Guilt: Maintain compassion for yourself

woman releasing all feelings of guilt and regret after learning the proper coping skills during therapy in Simi Valley, ca

Maintain compassion for yourself through self-forgiveness and positive self-talk. You may have a valid reason to feel ashamed, guilty, or regretful of what has been done. It could be that certain words exchanged or behaviors were fueled by once feeling angry or that your needs were not being met. 


Now that you no longer feel frustrated or upset from being in the heat of the moment, you may feel regretful of some things you’ve said or done. It can leave you feeling ashamed of yourself for acting a certain way, perhaps in a way that is out of character for you. You know that you may have offended someone or caused them distress in one way or another. 


While this may be true, it’s also true that you are deserving of self-compassion and self-forgiveness. You do not need to drag yourself through the mud for the rest of your life. There are steps you can take to accept your mistake, and move on with self-love.


It can be difficult getting started with showing yourself compassion. You may believe you are worthy of it, and deny giving it to yourself. The first step here is acknowledging and accepting that you are worthy of compassion. Starting to rewrite the narrative in your head can be tricky, especially if we are convinced that all the negative things we think are true!


Practicing positive mantras or statements on a regular basis can help you in strengthening your self-compassion and forgiveness. A few examples of this include:


  • I deserve to release harmful and negative thinking.
  • I deserve to show myself love and support right now. 
  • I forgive myself for what has happened, because I know I will make changes in the future.


Individual therapy in Simi Valley, CA helps you begin your journey towards self-forgiveness and self-love in a non-judgmental environment. Make sure to check out our blog on 3 Steps to Reverse Negative Self-Talk!


When we only think negatively about ourselves, we come to accept that as the truth. However, if we flip the script and begin to think in a positive, healthy way, we can truly begin to heal.


5 Ways to Cope with Guilt: Understand if there is a reason for you to feel guilty. 

couple forgiving each other after having an argument in a healthy and positive manner thanks to the boyfriend going to individual counseling in Simi Valley, ca

Understand if there is a reason for you to feel guilty. We may have already discussed the event with someone, and came to a resolution. Still, the guilt lingers inside of you, and you can’t help but continue to apologize and address the situation with them. 


However, it could be that the individual has already forgiven you for what happened. You may not feel satisfied with someone telling you something along the lines of, “Whatever, it’s fine, it happened, it’s over with”. This response can feel dismissive, and not genuine forgiveness about the incident.


Having an open and honest dialogue with the other person can help you both come to terms about both of your feelings around the situation. If you notice the other person acting passive-aggressively, or is clearly not over it, invite them to talk about it. This can look like saying, “Hey, I know we somewhat addressed this already, but I feel like we should talk about it some more.


This can provide an opportunity to validate their feelings, and show them that you recognize what needs to be changed in the future. You may also be surprised to find that the other person is genuinely not holding a grudge against you, and wants you to find peace and move on as well. Nevertheless, taking accountability and responsibility for your actions is important to convey to the other person.


It’s possible that the other individual will not acknowledge forgiveness, or may no longer be alive to have this conversation with you.


Knowing that you are doing what you can to address this situation is key. You are taking the necessary steps to show a sincere effort in fixing what has been done. A big part of this journey comes down to acceptance, and sitting with uncomfortable feelings around that.


Anxiety therapy in Simi Valley, CA helps you navigate feelings of distress and discomfort when thinking about past experiences. Make sure to check out our blog on How to Sit with Uncomfortable Feelings!


5 Ways to Cope with Guilt: Remind yourself of all the positive things you do/have done. 

man feeling confident and good with his future after discussing worries in a anxiety therapy in Simi Valley,ca

Remind yourself of all the positive things you do and have done. You may have felt guilty about snapping at someone, and feeling overwhelmed or flustered in the moment. Maybe you made an error in judgment, and did not take an opportunity to talk with someone in a healthy manner. 


While we want to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, we also do not need to hold them above our heads forever. When we’ve taken the steps to apologize, reflect, and repair, there is no need to continue an inner battle. This will only continue a cycle of self-blame or resentment towards ourselves. 


Reminding yourself of positive steps or actions you’ve taken can help you stray from a negative narrative of yourself. As humans, we all make mistakes to some extent. While we can allow ourselves to sit with discomfort, we can guide ourselves through it in a healthy manner.


Counseling in Simi Valley, CA provides you with a non-judgmental, compassionate space. Make sure to check out our blog on Therapy: Where to Start for tips on finding the best fit therapist for your needs.


We have the power to change our inner dialogue to be more forgiving, accepting, and loving.


5 Ways to Cope with Guilt: Understand that it’s ok to have needs.

woman and child beginning to live life again after sadly losing the father of the child but the mom remains hopeful after anxiety therapy in Simi Valley, ca

Understand that it’s ok to have needs. You may feel guilty for not helping someone out with a task, or being available for something. Your friend or family member may have needed someone to talk to, but you were not in the right headspace to be there for someone else.


It can feel defeating, reflecting on the “shoulda/coulda/woulda”s of life. We can go back and forth trying to justify our decisions and all of the alternative moves we could’ve made. However, this is not a helpful mindset to cycle through, and can leave you feeling worse afterwards.


The reality of the situation is that this event has unfortunately occurred. In that moment of the event, you may have chosen your own needs over others. Whether that be, having been unable to take a phone call or show up for work on your day off. Your absence may have not directly caused the event to occur, even if it feels like you may have been able to prevent it. 


Maintaining positive self-talk and validating yourself for your needs is crucial. As much as we want to be there for others, we also need to be there for ourselves. Trauma counseling near Simi Valley, CA provides you with a space to discuss traumatic events, including feelings of survivor’s guilt.


It can feel overwhelming thinking about starting to do the work in therapy. However, it is never too late to begin your healing journey.


5 Ways to Cope with Guilt: Make amends or find ways to repair what has been done.

man offering a rose for forgiveness and to show he is sorry for his actions after learning how to take accountability during therapy in Simi Valley, ca

Make amends or find ways to repair what has been done. It could be that the incident you are guilty over was random. You could have had road rage, where you aggressively honked and tailgated someone who was going too slow in your opinion. Maybe you were in a bad mood and were not polite to a service person, taking it out on them. Perhaps you snapped at someone you love and care about, and it hurt their feelings. 


Making amends sometimes means directly speaking with whomever you may have affected. Acknowledging your actions and how they have affected the other person will help them to feel understood, heard, and validated. For example, “I know I snapped at you the other day asking about the left-overs in the fridge. I was in a bad mood because of work, and I really shouldn’t have taken that out on you. I’m sorry and will do better next time”. 


Or when speaking with your partner, “I know I got triggered, and said some harsh things I do not actually mean. I understand that hurt you, and you’re valid in feeling resentment towards me right now. Just know I’m sorry, and will do what I can to work on my own communication”. 


If the situation occurred where you cannot directly make amends with someone, you can still repair what has been done. You can do this through changing your behaviors in the future, and taking the event as a lesson. This includes being more considerate of how you are speaking to someone, regardless of your relationship (or lack of) to them. You may also try to be more mindful of others on the road, and adjust your driving habits.


There are steps you can take to make amends or repair what has been done. This can take some self-reflecting, planning, and execution in a healthy way.


You do not have to struggle with feelings of guilt, regret, or shame alone. In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you.


By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either. Make sure to check out our blog on How to Validate Yourself!


Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free consultation! Make sure to check out our blog on How to Sit with Uncomfortable Feelings.


Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.

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