Guilt and remorse are two feelings that result in heavy emotional burdens. They show up when you don't act in a way that is consistent with your values and goals. First, you feel guilty about what you did. Then, comes lingering remorse which can then lead to shame. Things like breaking a promise, procrastinating or saying something hurtful to someone during an argument can lead to feelings of regret.
Guilt and remorse can be positive. These feelings arise from your own rules of moral and acceptable behavior. They help you reflect on your actions and motivate you to make positive changes. However, it is very destructive to carry around these emotions for long periods of time. Holding on to guilt only leads to more of the same. Guilt is the feeling of doing something bad, but without watching our thoughts can lead to shame, which is feeling bad. It can also affect other areas of your life, including your relationships.
Guilt hammers away at self-esteem and confidence. Constant shame makes it hard to focus and be at your very best. Unfortunately, these two emotions can linger on. The good news is that you can learn to forgive yourself and break the habit of feeling guilt and shame. Here are some approaches that I have found to help clients in my Roseville marriage counseling practice.
Stay In The Present
Don't make a habit of lingering in the past. You can learn from past mistakes and still move on. If you feel guilty about something that happened, it is okay to reflect on the experience. However, you must also accept that you can't change the past. You can only change the future and try to keep the same thing from happening again. After that, commit yourself to stay focused on the present moment.
Remember That You Deserve Compassion
It is tough for some people to allow themselves self-compassion. People who have a history of abuse or neglect growing up may have an even harder time with self-compassion as they did not get it from their caretakers. Sometimes, you have to learn how to be kind to yourself. Self-compassion is not the same as arrogance. Compassion involves being kind and gentle towards oneself. When you have self-compassion, you are supportive and understanding. When you are arrogant, you are not necessarily compassionate towards yourself; you believe that you are right. What if you can't seem to be kind towards yourself? Sometimes, it takes working with a therapist to change your thoughts. A therapist can help you learn to identify when you are unkind towards yourself and to replace those thoughts with gentle, supportive ones.
Recognize That It Could Be More
It is important to recognize when you are feeling guilt and shame. You must also remember that these feelings are counter-productive when they are chronic. If you cannot get rid of the emotions no matter what you try, consider seeing a therapist. Feeling shame and guilt on a regular basis could be an indication of clinical depression. It is essential to figure out if there is something more to these feelings and a therapist can help you do just that.
If you are looking for a therapist in the Roseville or Sacramento area, then contact us today. Guilt and shame can impact relationships. Consider marriage counseling in Roseville CA to help you get over these chronic feelings. We provide both individual and relationship counseling in Sacramento and the surrounding areas.
Cathy Bruno, LMFT works with individuals and couples experiencing Grief/Loss, Trauma/PTSD, Sexual Trauma, Spiritual/Existential issues, Women’s Issues, Major Life Transitions, Personal Growth and Development, Depression & Anxiety.