Getting Rid of Guilt
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Approximately 10% of American adults suffer from some form of depression, and 80% of those individuals do not seek medical care for their conditions (Faris, 2012). According to Therese Borchard, author of the book, “Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes,” when she suffered from depression, she would often hear a little voice in the back of mind that told her that she was a horrible person (Tartakovsky, 2013). In fact, she would feel guilty when the house was not clean, when the children ate more candy then they should, when she ate too much, and when she “shared” too much information with her readers. Basically, she constantly blamed herself for everything! Truth-be-told, it is common to feel guilty when you are depressed.
The Guilt Thing
Why do we feel guilty when we are depressed? Well, because when you are depressed, your brain does not perceive situations the same way a non-depressed individual’s brain does. In other words, a chemical imbalance in your brain prevents it from processing your feelings accurately. For example, not being able to find his or her “lucky socks” can quite disappointing for a non-depressed person, but for a depressed person it can be overwhelming and devastating. The depressed person may tell himself or herself that he or she cannot find the socks because he or she is stupid or an idiot. In other words, this person will attribute not being able to find the socks to his or her personal inadequacy and self-worth. As a result, he or she will feel guilty, which will propel him or her into further depression.
According to a 2012 research study on depression and feelings of guilt, depressed individuals respond to situations differently than non-depressed people (Tartakovsky, 2013). In other words, depressed individuals tend to feel guilty over events that they have no control over, while non-depressed people typically do not. If you would like to learn more about depression and guilty feelings and if you would like some helpful tips on how to banish those feelings – you have come to the right place. This article will help you eliminate your feelings of guilt, so that you can have a happy, productive life.
How To Stop Guilt
Ask Yourself “Why?”
One of the most effective ways to overcome the guilt you feel when you are depressed is to ask yourself, “Why do I feel so guilty?” In other words, try to identify the source of your guilt. Is it simply because you are depressed? Do you always or often feel guilty when you are depressed? Did you really do something to feel guilty about, or are your emotions getting the best of you? What triggered your guilty feelings? If you did do something to offend or hurt someone else, apologize to that person, and forgive yourself. In other words, let it go and move on. If the person you hurt refuses to accept your apology, still forgive yourself and move on with your life. If possible, try to make it up to the person you hurt – not only for him or her, but also for yourself. If your guilt stems from the words and actions of others, then make a conscious effort to brush it off. Don’t throw their actions up in their faces, but remind yourself that they are also not “perfect.” Allow yourself to be both human and “imperfect” and your feelings of guilt will disappear.
Surround Yourself with People Who Accept You
Want to banish your feelings of guilt? Well, the best way to uplift your mood and eliminate guilty feelings is to surround yourself with people who truly accept you. In other words, only allow people who love and support you (as is) into your life. Avoid negative people – those who constantly belittle, blame, degrade, embarrass and/or criticize you. In other words, stay away from the people who make you feel bad about yourself. The ones that make you feel as if you have done something wrong, when in fact you haven’t. It is important to be tolerant towards others, but not at the expense of your own self-esteem. Also, do not fret over what other people think of you, and follow your intuition. Surrounding yourself with positive people will not only positively shift your mood; it will also boost your self-esteem and banish feelings of guilt.
Don’t Dwell on Past Bad Decisions
You can banish your guilty feelings by refraining from dwelling on negativity. In other words, don’t dwell on past bad decisions. Instead, learn from your mistakes, and try to make better decisions now and in the future. Moreover, constantly remind yourself how much you have grown and continue to grow as an individual. Focus on what you have accomplished and what you plan to accomplish in the future. Do not get caught up on what you can’t do, rather concentrate on what you can!
Practice Reframing Negative Thoughts
Lastly, reframe your negative thoughts. In other words, stop negative self-talk. More specifically, stop telling yourself how worthless, hopeless, and helpless you are. Stop devaluing your self-worth. Refrain from criticizing and blaming yourself for what you should have or shouldn’t have done. Moreover, do not base your life on the ideals of others. If you try to live up to societal standards, you will be disappointed. Why? Well, because societal standards tend to be unrealistic and unattainable. Be yourself and do not allow your depression to dictate how you feel about yourself. Do not belittle yourself with negative self-talk, because it will cause your self-esteem to take a nosedive. It will also trigger feelings of self-blame and guilt. Take time out of your day to remind yourself of all of your positive attributes, and when you feel doubt, blame and guilt creeping into your mind, banish them with an onslaught of positive self-compliments.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Faris, S. (2012). Depression statistics. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics#1
Jeanette, D. (2014). Feeling guilty? Need to get unstuck and move on? Would you like to live a guilt-free life? Holistic Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.drjeanette.com/guilt.html
Tartakovsky, M. (2013). Overcoming guilt in depression. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/03/31/overcoming-guilt-in-depression/