How to Overcome Feelings of Guilt?

Whenever you feel guilty just take one step back and look for the belief in your “mind” that makes you feel you did a wrong thing. Then realize that a belief is just a past “mind conditioning”. There is no ultimate truth in a belief, it’s only an idea. This simple understanding liberates you of guilt. `

Few of us are simple enough in our minds to grasp this truth. Deep down all us what to stop feeling guilty because it corrodes our emotional state. So let’s look at it in more detail.

What makes us feel guilty?

Some common day to day examples of situations that make us feel guilty are as below:

Self-pleasuring – This has to top the list and in fact encompasses the motivation that leads us to commit the action that causes us guilt. Self pleasuring of any kind usually ends up making us guilty, it could be watching porn, fantasizing about your neighbor, smoking, drinking, having sex or even eating (what you think you shouldn’t be eating).

Cheating – We have all been raised in a code of conduct that places huge value on honesty. So when we lie or cheat we feel deeply guilty inside. Even the most hardened criminals feel a pinch of guilt within them for doing something unethical. As kids we were told that we are “bad” because we stole or lied. This conditioning stays in the mind.

Being inactive – Our society has indoctrinated the importance of “Activity” so deeply in to the psyche of every child that it grows up feeling guilty about relaxing. If you just laze around on weekday, you will start feel a tinge of guilt within you knowing that there are long people slogging off at their work. People even feel guilty if they are not stressed, they feel they are not doing enough.

Getting angry – Many people feel guilty about their emotional states. Anger is a big “no” in the books of many minds. Of course anger is a negative emotion because it causes suffering eventually. We feel terrible about ourselves after an episode of anger, and this guilt seems to arise from the heart.

Why does guilt arise?

Guilt is a negative feeling and all it does is create suffering for you and others. When you suffer you radiate more negative energy into your life and into the lives of people around you. But why does it arise so consistently in our lives?

To be virtuous or “righteous” is deeply ingrained in our hearts. It’s not even something we learnt, it’s something that arises from deep within us. The problem starts when the “mind” starts defining what is right and wrong.

Your mind’s idea of right and wrong comes from your conditioning – what you learnt from your parents, teachers or friends. Most of it is colored by fear and mental blocks. Eventually all beliefs created by conditioning are just ideas. They are just some false perspective that you carry in your mind that you use to judge yourself.

When you judge yourself as being in the “wrong” you feel guilty. This judgment comes from our mind. Your “heart” lets you know when you are astray but it does not judge you for it.

How to overcome feelings of guilt?

Why do want to live with guilt? It does not serve any purpose at all except to make you miserable. Can you see that your mind becomes your true enemy in that it keeps reinforcing feelings of guilt about things you did in the past.

You can use these simple pointers to stop the mind from victimizing you through guilt

Past does not define your present – If you are willing to be really honest you will see that past is just memory. You reinforce it by thinking about it in your present. What you are now is not what you were in the past. In reality you are a different person everyday and every moment. Guilt can only arise when you associate with who you were in the past.

“Wrong” is only an idea – In truth there is nothing right or wrong. Everything is just a manifestation in this world of form. Circumstances are neutral until the mind labels it. You can simply ignore your mind when it tries to make you feel guilty. Know that your mind is just a computer that is running a conditioned script. Stop having a guilty conscience by knowing that it’s only an idea of the mind.

“Forgive them for they know not what they do” – A beautiful pointer given by Jesus which can be applied to our lives. All our actions are mostly unconsciously driven by instinct or impulse. Can we forgive ourselves for being unconscious? Of course, there is nothing personal about human unconsciousness. Life is forever forgiving.

You can learn without feeling guilty – So you did something “wrong”, does it serve any purpose to punish yourself continuously for it? Why not just use the experience to become more mature. Everything in life is an opening towards growth. Embrace the message that your guilt brings you but don’t associate with the feeling.

Stop believing in beliefs – Guilt can easily provide an opportunity for growth. Look deep within to realize the dysfunctional belief or thought that causes you to feel guilty and be open enough to see through its silliness. All beliefs are ultimately silly.

Guilt can also help us become more righteous and virtuous as long as we are not deluding ourselves. The greatest virtue is to stay true to our heart and not to our mind. But forgive yourself first before you hope to learn something from the experience. Your heart is always willing to forgive, it’s the mind that always places the blame game.












22 comments

  • Saeed says:

    Now I think I could forgive myself, and get back to normal life. I know that this feeling may return, but I have learnt not to judge myself based on my negative thoughts.

  • Lee says:

    I was a teacher found guilty of taking kickbacks from my school district. I paid a large fee and temporarily lost my teaching license, but I cannot get over my guilt.

  • Jess says:

    I keep finding really stupid things to confess to my boyfriend, like as soon as one’s done with, I’ll think up something else to tell him. My mum said it could be the age difference as I’m 17 and he’s 22 or just my hormones playing up. I can’t eat, sleep or breathe sometimes. I start my A levels in 4 days and I’ve just been depressed. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if it could be something underlying that’s making me do this, like I’m not happy anymore? Help!

  • Milli says:

    Wow! How all this time I was in the dark? Which means, how can I let people dictate my life and make me feel guilty about things I didn’t do or didn’t have nothing to do with? In this article I can relate because as soon as I read it, it was like a burden has suddenly come off me. I realized that I wasn’t the problem, the problem was the people who are around me that felt that way and try to suck as much good energy and positive things out of me as much as possible for their own benefits, ego, self esteem, or other personal etc. I honestly have to say only real people can read this and comment on this! *PS. Test someone and tell them to read this and see that they will react or say something negative about this because they are living in denial and they haven’t accepted themselves for what they are.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot for this. I have learnt not to blame myself for some actions I have taken cause it was really worth taking. I have learnt to do what I want to do.

  • SG says:

    Thanks for the article. It has changed my life.

  • Guest says:

    I was married for ten years with two wonderful children . We had great marriage I think I got bored I don’t know. We ended up in divorce due to my selfish wants I threw away a wonderful life and put my children thru such heartache. How can I forgive myself and stop wishing I could go back and change the past. It’s eating me alive inside please help.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for that article. My life was a horror since my ex left me. He was accusing me of cheating of which I was innocent. Always felt guilty.

  • Mans says:

    Life is so strange, even when you have everything you need. When I was young I did so much wrong, thinking that it is fun. Having multiple affairs, cheating, telling lie etc. and it was really fun. I came across multiple young girls doing it for the first time, I enjoyed and felt proud sharing stories with my friends and sometimes felt guilty but overcome my guilt by my own thoughts then after few years I stated drinking thinking that it is even more fun combining both. Then suddenly I became regular drinker and my anger level rose to highest and my charm started fading. Small issues stated to become huge with family and friends. Few of my friends left me. I become what I was not, then I grew older and I married a woman who thinks she loved me for almost a decade. Strangely Love does not hold any meaning to me. Suddenly I stared to remember all the girls I have been with unable to enjoy with my wife. Now because of my past I am not able to enjoy my present.

    Do we call it guilt, of-course yes. So this guilt is so much inside me, I am getting angrier and angrier each day and all it takes is 2-4 shots of liquor to make me relieved. Now I am continuously doing wrong to overcome my guilt somehow I am again doing wrong for which I will be guilty sometimes in future. But you know the best part, I don’t need help, I am strong enough to overcome anything. Will love her unconditionally and slowly slowly stop drinking and hopefully that would help me kill my anger. I will surely use the experience to become more mature. Thanks Sen. :)

  • M says:

    I feel life is too short to be brainwashed by parents, media and other brainwash-sources. I feel good! I think my therapy was to read this article and try to apply it to my current situation and it really works! :D Enjoy life people. Remember, everything is right and everything is wrong, is all up to you. Be smart.

  • V says:

    Thanks for this article but I still feel guilty. I have a girlfriend that I really love so much but I feel guilty of watching p*rn in the first week of our relationship (it was also my last time I watched it) because I stopped watching it. But I still feel so guilty I ever did this. I know if she would know it I ever did this then she will be very sad. I am the first boy who she ever kissed and she really loves me too and she trust me and I really want to be the best for but I can’t get that guilty feeling out of my mind because if I found that my girlfriend did the same, I would really not like it but I did it myself. I just always think that she don’t deserve me. I really don’t know what to do please help!

  • Amy says:

    Thanks for posting this. It makes so much sense! I feel guilty over the past and guilty about everything. Then again it’s normal for me, given I do have OCD.

  • M says:

    Thank you for this article. Gives me hope and a chance to forgive myself .

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s better to be a wise man unhappy than a contented pig – John Stuart Mill.

    I think guilt is one of the worst emotions. I used to feel it intensely. But I KNOW that it’s sometimes better to feel guilt than to show none at all. I mean when you do things you know are wrong, like causing yourself or others suffering. It’s possible to become so jaded, so calloused, that you feel next to nothing. You become a tad psychotic, which actually ‘enables’ you to do wrong (it feels like there are no consequences without guilt). And it’s obviously just a theory, but you could say guilt serves the evolutionary function of keeping us from being psychopaths!

    A friend of mine explained it to me. He would rather suffer emotionally or otherwise, than to feel nothing at all. You feel barely alive when there are no emotions! You become alienated, removed. Such is the opinion of John Stuart Mill in the above quote. So if any of you are feeling it now, remember that it’s better and much more human to feel guilt than to go numb. It could be worse!

  • Dougief says:

    Wow. This was the exact topic I was looking for. You don’t understand how much this has helped me! I’ve read several articles on forgiveness and moving on but nothing has resonated with me more then what you wrote. Thank you so much!

  • Tony says:

    I Always feel guilty about everything. I suffer with chronic back pain and depression and my parents just don’t seem to understand. They just keep asking favors of me until finally today I snapped at them. I’ve been feeling guilty all day about it but reading this article has helped me.

  • Max says:

    Thanks so much for this article. It makes me feel a lot better. I have always had a similar manifesto, to quote Tim Leary “the natural state of the brain is chaos” and we have been conditioned to follow a linear path set out from society. Virtue and right/wrong are completely relative.

    I feel that when I’m stressed out I try to throw everything I can to block the real issues of unhappiness by focusing on the mundane and irrelevant. I obsess and obsess to keep feeding the cycle of negative thoughts and depression.

    The advice I’ve been getting is seek forgiveness from others. The bigger issue is what am I trying to solve by involving people in my guilt? Someone else’s forgiveness? That will offer me little to no solace of my own and only effect someone else’s happiness.

  • Sue says:

    An interesting article. We are very much conditioned from an early age to respond, conform, behave. I also find the other side of the coin interesting. That is people who are devoid of feelings of guilt. The stuff that is part of the sociopath or the psychopath.

  • JC says:

    Thank you for this strong outlook. It really changed my perception of things. I am a sensitive guy and easily start feeling guilty over everything. This makes me feel low confident in social situations cause in the back of my mind, I am always thinking that I have done something wrong. I live with my parents and I am finding my way, but that makes me feel guilty. Like I am being a lazy guy and not doing things that are expected of me. This feeling in turn lowers my self confidence and creates anxiety. But I am not going to let this feeling put me down anymore. Thanks again.

  • Lena says:

    My boyfriend makes me feel guilty for things I have never done. He is insecure and blames me of being a cheater. I don’t know what to do?

  • Jackie says:

    Loved it! It really makes a lot of sense to think that you can forgive yourself for it’s only human to make mistakes and blaming yourself or feeling guilty is not going to solve anything. I agree that the idea of ‘wrong’ is just an idea in our heads. And we can change it if we change our thoughts. Thanks for this article!

  • Jagdish says:

    It’s was highly insightful to read this article. I have been plagued by guilty feelings around a lot of things in my life. I keep feeling rotten within, as if something is wrong with me. I can see now that it’s just the mind playing the “parent”. I can resonate with what you say about “wrong” is only a perception in my created through external conditioning.