ExecutiveChronicles | 5 Ways to Use Guilt Constructively for Self-Growth | Guilt feels awful. It can consume the body and mind and make you feel even worse, causing feelings of shame or disgust. Like all emotions, guilt exists to tell us something. At times, guilt is constructive and can help us do better or make amends for something we actually did wrong.
If you’re feeling anxious due to your guilt, it’s time to make a change. Here are five ways you can use guilt constructively for self-growth.
Know That Consideration Doesn’t Mean Agreement
If you are unsure whether you’ve actually done something wrong, you may be hesitant to hear others out about what they think you did wrong. However, it’s important to remember that choosing to hear someone out is not an agreement with their opinion or belief.
You can give someone the space to tell you why they were hurt, and you can consider it. Think about all aspects of the situation. Ask yourself:
- Does what they’re saying make sense?
- How would I feel if this happened to me?
- Why does this make me feel guilty if I’m not?
- Is there any truth in what they said?
- Could I have done differently?
- Am I being bullied or canceled?
- Is this something I feel comfortable taking accountability for?
You want to make sure you look at every angle. Your consideration is not a “yes” or a “no” in either direction. If you are being bullied online, it’s time to move off social media and take some thinking time. Social media causes stress, and it’s not good for you when you’re feeling guilty.
Determine Which Values You Disrespected
Look at your core values. These are the set of rules we live by as humans that tell us what is right and wrong. Often, when we break our own values, we feel guilty or shameful.
Your values may include the following:
- I value not being physically abusive.
- I value family.
- I value my freedom of speech.
- I value my religion.
- I value my identity.
- I value my spiritual beliefs.
- I value my mental health.
- I value my home and the items I own.
- I value my friends.
- I value being honest and open.
- I value being kind.
- I value being non-confrontational.
If you’ve personally broken one of your values, ask yourself why. Ask yourself if this is the reason that you’re feeling guilty.
Try Your Best To Do Better
In the end, you can’t change what you’ve done. If you’ve decided that you acted outside of your moral code, the best you can do is try to do better.
You may have lost people in your life, or you may have caused a situation that has consequences for some area of your life. Instead of fighting this, see what you can do to make your life better from this moment on. If you’re ready to apologize to people you’ve affected, you can move on to the next step.
Make Amends to Those You Hurt
To make amends, apologize first. Tell all people who you affected that you are sorry and mean it. Do not apologize more than once, as this is ingenuine. Give them an apology without explaining why you did what you did, as this comes off as selfish and may make the other person feel that you didn’t hear them.
End your apology by letting the person know you’re going to do your best to make amends going forward and that you know they may not believe you, but you hope they can give you a chance to make it up. Amends may include:
- Washing the dishes for them.
- Going out of your way to give them a kind gesture.
- Giving them space if they need it.
- Showing them over time that you will no longer do what you did before.
- Accepting that they don’t trust you for a while.
- Accepting their boundaries.
If the person you hurt is telling you that they do not accept your apology or your amends, move to the next step.
Accept No, and Move Forward Graciously
In the end, accepting no is one of the most challenging things to do. However, it’s essential to respect it. If someone says no to you, you cannot change their mind. You need to move forward as if there is no chance for recollection.
It can be painful to accept that something you feel guilty about has ended a relationship in your life. However, everyone has the chance to end relationships if they feel it is important to them. In this case, the best you can do is to continue to better yourself and move on.
You can respect yourself and become the version of yourself you genuinely believe you can be. If you need help with self-growth and learning what is right and wrong, you can always sign up to see a therapist. Therapists are neutral parties that can help you learn about your emotions, actions, behavior, and more. They can help you figure out how to care for yourself through this loss and guilt.
In the end, it’s okay to make mistakes. You are human, and we all make mistakes. If you’d like to learn more about guilt and how it affects you, check out BetterHelp’s advice column here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/guilt/.
Keep working to be your best self. It’s all you can do. This period will also pass, and everything will be alright!