Guilt and remorse are heavy feelings that weigh us down and make us feel poorly about ourselves. They arise when we feel defeated as a result of our own actions. Most people feel guilty and remorseful when they do or say something that isn’t aligned with their best self or their values and intentions.
When used constructively, as a tool for self-growth and reflection, guilt and remorse can be positive things. They are big bright warning signs that signal where our actions aren’t aligning with our intentions and where we aren’t showing up as the person we want to be. But, without awareness and tools, guilt and remorse can easily lead down the path of shame and self-loathing, both of which are places no one deserves to be in.
Three Ways to Let Go of Guilt and Remorse
Learn from your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone does things from time to time we wish we hadn’t. The good news is that mistakes are opportunities for growth and guilt is that inner voice that says, “Hey you! I know you. That’s not who you are, that’s not who you want to be. You can do better.” When you hear this voice, you have the option to either dwell on the past or to learn and change for the better.
Process your feelings. It’s important to take the time to really process what you are feeling guilty and remorseful about. Ask yourself why you said that thing you now regret or why you did what you did. Were you feeling hurt, on the defense, tired and cranky, or stressed out about something completely non-related? Do you need to apologize? Maybe. Do you need to beat yourself up? No. Instead, uncover the why behind your actions and think about what you would do differently next time.
Show yourself compassion. For many of us, it is much easier to show others compassion than to show ourselves compassion. But part of the journey of self-growth and reflection is learning to be gentle and kind to ourselves. We are human, after all, and we are all allowed to make mistakes. If you are someone who really struggles to be kind to yourself, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist. A therapist will guide you to identify negative thought patterns and help you replace negative self-talk with kindness and self-love.
Feeling guilt and remorse for extended periods of time affects everything from our self-esteem and self-confidence, to our productivity at work, our relationships, and our mental and physical health. For all of these reasons, it is important to learn to identify these emotions when they arise and learn techniques to process them and move them through and out the body. All emotions will naturally be felt from time to time, but spending too much time in guilt and remorse may be an indicator that something deeper is going on. Shame, anxiety, or depression, for example, are all serious mental and emotional health issues that affect quality of life. Our therapists at The Relationship Therapy Center are here to support you. We offer online therapy, as well as individual, family, and couples therapy in Fair Oaks and Roseville, California.
Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
In addition to guilt and remorse counseling, Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.