How To Let Go Of Guilt

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by Melody Fletcher on May 22, 2012

In my coaching practice, I encounter a lot of clients who have trouble letting go of guilt. They beat themselves up relentlessly for something they should’ve done or something they wish they hadn’t done. It weighs heavily on them, and they know that this guilt isn’t serving them, but they feel a sense of responsibility to keep carrying their burdens. After all, what kind of horrible, soulless, conscience-less person doesn’t feel guilty about their past “mistakes”?

Me. That’s who. And I don’t consider myself horrible, soulless or devoid of a conscience. I’ve simply learned how to let go of my guilt, to adopt a perspective that feels better and to forgive myself. And in today’s blog post, I hope to pass that point of view on to you. If, however, you are currently enjoying your self-flagellation (statistically speaking, at least a few of you are bound to be into that. I’m not judging. Just saying…), then by all means, flagellate away. The rest of you should listen up, though. This is important stuff.

Meet Lucy

In order to demonstrate what guilt is and how to overcome it, I’m going to tell you a little story (because I’m entertaining that way. See? Not a horrible person).

Lucy is feeling guilty. She has two daughters, both of whom have relationship issues and can’t seem to either attract decent guys or hang on to them for very long. They both have obvious self-esteem issues when it comes to men. Lucy, as mothers do, blames herself. She figures that she somehow created her children’s low self-esteem and that if she’d just been able to make her own marriage work instead of going through an ugly divorce when the girls were little, they’d both be happily married now.

Now that I’ve set the stage, let’s break down exactly what is causing Lucy’s guilt:

Lucy got divorced twenty years ago. Her husband and she were having screaming fights, often while their two daughters were in the next room and undoubtedly able to hear every word. Insults were hurled with a hateful vengeance that would’ve made Attila the Hun blush, and on a couple of occasions the violence even turned physical, with a vase being thrown across the room and a fist going through a wall. Lucy and her husband had finally ended it and the divorce had been ugly. At the time, Lucy knew that she had to get herself and her girls out of this ugly situation. But years later, she wonders if she did the right thing.

Hindsight goggles

You’ve heard of beer goggles, right? This is the phenomenon used to describe the direct correlation between the amount of beer consumed vs. the attractiveness of the opposite sex. In short, the more beer you’ve chugged, the hotter you and everyone around you seems to get.

Well, I’d like to introduce you to “Hindsight goggles”. As time goes by, our memories become, shall we say, selective, or fuzzy. We tend to block out certain details and our memories morph into whatever we need them to be to support our current beliefs. That means that if you’re inclined to beat up on yourself, your past memories are going to remodel themselves in order to support your guilt. You start to look at the past with hindsight goggles, minimizing the severity and pain of the situation and suddenly seeing options that weren’t there at the time.

As Lucy puts on her hindsight goggles and looks back on her “failed” marriage (in quotes, because it’s not a failure to get a divorce), she may well conveniently gloss over just how volatile her fights with her ex were. She may forget just how much she suffered, how hopeless and trapped she felt, how angry and afraid she was so much of the time, how she cried herself to sleep in the spare bedroom most nights. She may not recall how, when she finally made the decision to leave, she felt a sense of relief that nearly knocked her off her feet. She may not remember how afraid she was for her girls, how controlling her ex husband was, and how she’d feared at the time that her ex’s behavior would scar the girls for life.

No, seen through her hindsight goggles, Lucy can only see that she left what might’ve been a repairable relationship and therefore somehow doomed her girls to be single forever. Bring on the pain.

Seeing options that weren’t there

Guilt is usually created when we look back on a situation and see options that either weren’t there, or to which we had no access at the time. It’s easy to look back on a situation with the benefit of our current perspective and knowledge. Lucy’s husband was an alcoholic. If only she’d gotten him into treatment, the marriage could’ve been saved and everything would’ve been rosy. But she had obviously been too weak and/or too stupid to get her husband the treatment he needed and like a bad, bad wife, simply ended the marriage. Where’s a good lynch mob when you need one?

Only, there are several major issues with Lucy’s guilt ridden recollection of these past events:

  1. She didn’t know that her husband was an alcoholic until they’d been divorced for several years. She just thought he drank a lot.
  2. Even if she had known, her husband never would’ve consented to treatment at that time. In fact, his willingness to undergo rehab several years later was in no small part due to the fact that he’d lost his family. He had to go through his journey on his own, at his own pace, in order to be ready to release his pain. Her leaving may have actually saved him.
  3. Looking back, she sees the option of reconciliation. The fact that she had tried again and again to make the marriage work before finally, and only after having exhausted every option she could think of, deciding to leave, has gotten blocked out by the hindsight goggles. But the truth is that the option of making it work was no longer on the table when she left.

Lucy is feeling guilty for not choosing options that weren’t actually there at the time.

Options that were there but which she couldn’t see

Lucy also feels guilty because she now feels that she should’ve gotten her girls into therapy after the divorce, but didn’t. She has had some therapy herself over the years and knows the value of it. If only she’d insisted that her daughters see a counselor of some kind, then she’d be surrounded by happy grandchildren now. Instead, she’s created two unhappy spinsters who will probably die alone. And it’s all her fault. Let the whipping begin.

Again, there’s just one teensy problem with Lucy’s reasoning: When she got her divorce, the idea of therapy wasn’t wide spread. It was something you did only if you were insane, or at least completely unable to function in normal society, and not something considered ok for “normal” people. In short, the idea of therapy hadn’t even occurred to Lucy at the time, and if someone had suggested it, she would’ve declined for fear of scarring her girls for life, either from having been psychoanalyzed by some Freudian weirdo into becoming stippers or from having the stigma of “needing therapy” attached to them.

The truth is that the option of therapy, as Lucy is aware of it today, simply didn’t exist for her back then. Certainly, there were counselors that could’ve helped both her and her daughters, but Lucy hadn’t known that then. She is judging herself using her current perspective, one that contains a great deal more information and experience than she had access to twenty+ years ago.

She should’ve known better

Lucy’s guilt is based on a false concept – that she should’ve known better. But that presupposes that she saw all the options she now sees, had all the information she has now and then made the decision she made anyway. She didn’t.

She made the best and possibly only decision she could, given the information and perspective she had at the time. She believes that the options she had were:

  1. Stay and tough it out and find a way to make it work
  2. Leave and get her girls lots of therapy
  3. Flee into the night like a weak little girl.

When in fact, the options at the time were:

  1. Stay and allow her girls to grow up being afraid of men and feeling like victims, with one or both of them possibly running away in their teens to become strippers. Years of living with an alcoholic, who would’ve never sought treatment by the way, would’ve taken their toll on Lucy, leaving her a shell of her former self. Instead of getting a job and eventually becoming regional manager and being a strong role model for her daughters, she would’ve most likely wiled her days away hiding in the kitchen, secretly smoking out the window and trying to avoid triggering her husband’s temper.
  2. Have the courage to finally leave and get her girls into a safer, more stable environment.

Lucy is feeling guilty for not choosing options that, in all honesty, simply weren’t there at the time.

What are you feeling guilty about?

Whenever you’re feeling guilty, ask yourself these questions:

Given the information and perspective that you had then, did you make the best choice you had access to?

Given your emotional state you were in at the time, were you able to see a better option to the one you took?  

Chances are, if you’re feeling guilty, you are looking through your hindsight goggles and beating yourself up for not choosing an option that, to you, was not on the table. Perhaps the option didn’t exist. Perhaps it did, but you were not aware of it. Perhaps you were aware of it, but it simply wasn’t a valid choice for you, given your point of view and/or emotional state at the time.

In every case, when you’re feeling guilty, you are being grossly unfair to yourself. And no, it doesn’t matter how bad what you did was. Even if you hurt someone, I still maintain that given the point of view you had, whatever you chose to do seemed like the best option for you at the time. Remember that people will do horrible things to escape their pain. In every instance (and I have yet to encounter one that this isn’t true for), you did the best you could, no matter how harebrained, illogical or “weak” that choice seems now. You cannot judge your past self using today’s perspective. All you can do is to do the best you can in each moment.

You didn’t make a mistake. You did what you thought was right at that very moment. The mistake would be to let past actions, which you can no longer change, dictate how you feel right now – the only thing you do actually have control over.

Do you suffer from guilt? Has this post helped you to gain a better feeling perspective? Have you, personally, found freedom from guilt? Share your stories in the comments!

{ 54 comments }

Laura May 22, 2012 at 18:43

Yes. This has helped quite a bit. I have some things in my past I feel guilty for every time they come to the surface of my consciousness. It also gives a different perspective to me when it comes to certain treatments I received.

Thanks. Good article.

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 00:11

Hey Laura,

I’m so glad to hear that it was helpful.

Sending you huge, guilt-free hugs! :)

Melody
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Kara May 22, 2012 at 19:25

Hey Melody,

Love your blog, and read it often, even if I don’t often have time to comment.

Just this morning I was beating myself up for not being a better parent. The statement in your blog post that helped me out the most was
“Remember that people will do horrible things to escape their pain. In every instance (and I have yet to encounter one that this isn’t true for), you did the best you could, no matter how harebrained, illogical or “weak” that choice seems now.”

I have had alot of challenging circumstances this year, that have resulted in me not being the parent that I would ideally like to be. Most of the moments that I am not proud of, did result from pain on my part – not having enough support with childcare, being overworked, overwhelmed and overtired, etc. – and trying to escape that pain. While support for me is slowly coming into the picture, and as a result my parenting is getting back to where I would like it to be, I was having trouble letting it go.

I find it easy to give others the advice to forgive themselves, but more challenging to do it for myself. Thanks for your words of wisdom that have helped me today. I am going to keep remember this phrase from your post:
“The mistake would be to let past actions, which you can no longer change, dictate how you feel right now – the only thing you do actually have control over.”

Thank you so much.

Kara
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Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 00:16

Hey Kara,

It’s great to hear from you! I’m so very glad this post spoke to you so deeply. There’s really no guilt quite like mother’s guilt, is there? :P

Thank you so much for sharing your valuable story here. I’m sure it will help a lot of other parents, as well. It sounds like you had a year with massive opportunities for growth. Good for you. If you’re having trouble feeling good about it, you’re almost certainly holding yourself up to some arbitrary and completely unrealistic standard. There are many ways to be a good mom. Being perfect isn’t one of them. :)

Huge happy shiny puppy hugs for you,

Melody
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Jenapher May 22, 2012 at 22:56

I manifested the hell out of this post. It was like a 2×4 to the head from the Universe telling me to “Knock it off”. Thank you for the reminder! I needed it. :) I only wish the story had been about money. :)

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 00:17

I’m always glad to do the Universe’s dirty work, Jenapher. He, he.

Do you have guilt about money? If you want to share here, perhaps others can benefit, too.

Huge hugs!
Melody
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DawnStar May 23, 2012 at 00:48

I have been through a scenario very similar to the one you lay out here Melody except that my ex wasn’t an alocholic, he wasn’t a ‘bad’ man at all and really didn’t do anything wrong except work too long and too often. So, when I made the decision to leave him I felt as guilty as hell because he had always tried to do everything right. I had known for a long time that I wasn’t happy, that I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t, a model wife, a model mother. I was living a lie along with the home-baking, the ritualistic cleaning regime, the matching towels. He didn’t ask for any of that, I became it because I was trying to be a ‘good girl’ – an issue that stemmed from way back and my relationship with my father. For 15 years I wore the mask of a stranger and no one knew but me. I felt so completely alone.

When I made the decision to leave it was because I couldn’t breathe behind the mask anymore. I raised my kids to love themselves, to be true to themselves, to follow their hearts and their intuition and I felt like a fake because I wasn’t following through. I know how quickly kids pick up on vibration, even then I knew that they would feel something didn’t quite add up. I knew I had to step into my authenticity.

So, anyway……it wasn’t pretty and for years there was deep animosity between my ex and I. He maintained I had ruined his life and I took all his anger and the hatred he hurled at me day and night and stored it in my ‘shadow bag’, the one I dragged around with me everywhere I went. It got bigger and heavier, so heavy in fact that some days I would physically break down, literally. My arms and legs wouldn’t work anymore. I was exhausted and desperate but I was born a warrior and got up every morning ready to go another round. There was nothing I couldn’t cope with. Bring it on!

Years later, I can look back on the life I created and follow events like a road map to a destination. I threw the ‘hindsight goggles’ away because I realised how much power I gave away to them. I see now, that everything happened perfectly. The Divine has certainly had to deal some breath-taking blows to break through my resistance, talk about moving mountains! My kids are 21 and 17 now and their lives have been colourful. My daughter has a 20 month old son, and my son has had a brush with drugs but I didn’t go rooting through the attic for my mask and I didn’t add to the mask with my ‘hindsight goggles’. Both of those costume accessories have been sent back to non-physical and I’m not interested in re-manifesting them. I can look at my kids lives and know that they are separate from mine, their realities aren’t mine. How do I know that they wouldn’t have created exactly the same realities regardless of their history? I am not responsible for what they create, they are as powerful as any of us and they have their own desires.

Life loves living, it’s left up to us to choose whether we live a thriller, a horror or a comedy. Life isn’t picky. It wants to experience everything. We can walk out of the movie whenever we like if we don’t like the story-line and choose something different instead. I did and I took my kids with me. Now it’s up to them what ticket they buy for themselves :]

‘Your children are not your children they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.’ Kahlil Gibran.

Thank you for your patience with my loooooong post! :]

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 16:38

Hey Dawn,

Thank you so very much for sharing your story here. I tend to use fairly extreme examples in my posts for clarity’s sake. But of course, your ex did not need to be an alcoholic or abusive or anything really, in order for it to be ok for you to have left. That is a decision that no one gets to make for you and no one gets to judge.

The scenario you describe is one that happens a lot – especially women will try to mold themselves into a wife role when they marry, even if the husband never asked for it. Whenever you are trying to be something you are not, worrying more about how you are perceived than being who you really are, it’s going to hurt. And the longer this goes on, the more it hurts. When the pain gets too great, you have to make a change. Many of us experience our growth this way. As you said, you are a fighter. A little pain wasn’t going to keep you down.

Until it did. And you had to make a change. At that point, it felt like survival, and in a way, it was. Sometimes, when the pain is too great, shifting while in the situation becomes impossible. It’s just not an option we can reach anymore. And so, the only viable option left is to get out. When we no longer have the reality of our manifestations slapping us in the face, we can breathe, regroup and begin to shift those beliefs.

I would venture that your ex’s penchant for making your responsible for how he feels isn’t just something he developed after the divorce. He was most likely putting all that weight on you during your marriage, as well. And you may have been doing the same thing – putting ALL the responsibility for how everyone felt onto yourself. You did not ruin your ex’s life. You saved your own. He’s kind of ruining his own life and using you as an excuse to do so. Although, of course, he can snap out of it any time and then his life won’t be “ruined” anymore. He will find his way, just as you did.

You’ve developed such a healthy perspective. You may never have done so without having gone through that marriage – it caused you to grow in ways you would not have without it.

Congratulations on making it through this obstacle course. Here’s your happy shiny puppy medal. :D

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Diana October 28, 2012 at 17:17

I could have written DawnStar’s post. I googled “let go of guilt”. I am paralyzed by guilt. I even went as far as quitting my job because I was (and to some extent, still am), emotionally and physically exhausted and I now believe it stems from my guilt. 3 years ago, I too left my husband after 25 years together. And now am watching my (grown) childrens’ lives fall apart because of it. I have my exhusband, my children, his parents, old friends tell me how I ruined his life. Having my ex mother-in-law tell me how she watches him struggle everyday. I am sick with guilt. However, did I mention his alcoholic and (drug/pot) habit that I turned a blind eye to? Did I mention he is a successful business owner, capable of managing multiple employees etc.? Did I mention he has somehow managed to “buy” my children with trips and concerts and limos and fancy clothes etc.? Did I mention that when I first left he asked me 1) who will iron his clothes now? and 2) would I put a good word in for him with the cute next door neighbour. He has told numerous people I have been doing bad things (ie. having affairs for years (not true)), in order to discredit me. I just hide. I don’t have the strength to defend myself. I feel I deserve his smearing – part of my punishment I guess. I have seen my doctor who sent me for counsellling. The psychiatrist wanted to prescribe pills – not for me.

This blog and DawnStar’s comments are the first enlightenment I have seen (read). It makes sense and I actually feel somewhat relieved to know that I am not the only one is consumed with guilt and that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. I will continue my quest to relieve myself of these feelings – it took 25 years to feel this way and I imagine its not a quick overnight fix, but now – because of this blog, I know I am on the path to recovery.

Thank you Melody.

Melody Fletcher October 30, 2012 at 03:09

Hi Diana,

Thank you so much for having the courage to leave a comment. You’re right, the recovery will not be instant. But it doesn’t have to take 25 years. What you need to do now is allow yourself to get angry, and not at yourself. Get angry with your ex husband for being a supreme douchebag. For being such a drama queen and falling apart and making everyone take care of him. For spreading lies about you. Be mad at your kids for being drama queens, too (you can be all compassionate about this later, right now you have to let the anger out). You know they are stronger than this, but it seems like everyone is using this as an excuse to lie down and blame you. What a bunch of a-holes.

I made a video about anger which you can find here: http://www.deliberateblog.com/2012/03/06/negative-emotions-anger/

Once you’ve let go of the anger, you can work on forgiveness (not before), which will benefit you, not him. You can forgive your kids, too, which will change their behavior towards you. You can find a post on forgiveness here. Actually, two:

http://www.deliberateblog.com/2012/04/24/how-to-forgive-those-who-have-hurt-you/

http://www.deliberateblog.com/2012/04/29/how-to-forgive-yourself/

I hope this is helpful. Let the emotions you feel come up and take your time with this. If you let the feelings out, you’ll feel better faster than you may have thought possible. Again, not instant, but it doesn’t have to take forever, either.

Huge hugs,
Melody
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RealMe November 5, 2012 at 20:25

Dear Melody,

Thank you for this blog, and for “Releasing Regret…”. I stumbled on this just searching for new techniques in applying the Law of Attraction in my life. I also want to give a heartfelf thanks to Diana and Dawnstar for sharing the stories on this sight. Oh, how I can relate to some aspect of each lady’s story. My spouse is not an alcoholic, nor is he abusive. But I feel the weight of his needs on my shoulders. We’ve been married over 20 years now, and I have felt the need to be the “perfect” wife. Not that I ever felt he imposed that requirement on me, but I placed it on myself. I have issues of abandonment from my parents’ failed marriage when I was very young, and an absentee father. I always expected that my husband would someday leave me. The only way to keep him was to be perfect, and give him undying/unconditional love, support and acceptance.

I feel I have borne the brunt of all of his life’s disappoinments (logically I know I have not been to blame, but it’s what I feel). While he has pursued his goals, I stayed in the shadows as the “support team.” I know now that this was easier than defining and pursuing my own goals. I am now at the stage that I can no longer breathe. I feel suffocated by the demands to continue wearing my mask, and staying in the role I created for myself. My guilt stems from the choices I am contemplating, and what the effects will be on my family. I have regrets of paths not taken, others left behind in the pursuit of this relationship. I have guilt and regrets for adding new lives to the disfunction that is my own. I am overwehlmed by the past, and fear the future. I plan to re-read the blog, and apply the information to myself to help me get past my fears.

So thank you for sharing with us your stories. The ladies, above, your honesty and generosity may have saved someone else!

Thank you, hoping to be the RealMe

Melody Fletcher November 7, 2012 at 00:18

Thanks so much for adding your story to the mix, RealMe. I know it’s hard to let go of the masks, and the transition can be scary (change generally is), but take it one day at a time and let your inner you shine through bit by bit. If you take it slowly, it’s much easier, like relieving a bit of pressure at a time. :)

Huge hugs and keep up the great work!

Melody
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Jenapher May 23, 2012 at 01:48

Yes, Money guilt is my biggest guilt. Usually about the way I handle it. I grew up with my mom always balancing her checkbook to the penny, but it didn’t take me long into my 20′s to rack up a mountain of debt. I feel guilty about not saving it, about spending it impulsively, and having to borrow it. It makes me not like money. I know it sounds weird, but by having it, I have to be responsible for it and then there is the chance that I’ll be irresponsible with it and feel guilty.

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 16:44

Hey Jenapher,

So, you have some false beliefs about money, which essentially make you afraid of it (afraid of feeling bad when you have it and mismanage it), a belief that will cause you to reject money. You have some bugs in your programming, that’s all.

When you feel guilty about the actions that result from your beliefs, you are telling yourself that you have a choice. That if you were stronger, smarter, etc, you would be able to handle money differently, have a different relationship with it. But your belief will never let that happen. We all have beliefs like that. When you shift it, your behavior will change automatically. Do you see how you’re blaming yourself for not choosing an option that isn’t open to you? You logically think it is, but emotionally, it’s a closed door. Let yourself off the hook, and instead, look forward to the day that this belief is no longer a part of you. How will that feel? What will that look like? How will you feel about money then? How will you act, and how will it feel when you do? Focus on that and you’ll feel a lot better, FAST, as well as start the process of shifting that stupid belief. :)

Huge happy shiny puppy hugs,

Melody
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Jenapher May 23, 2012 at 17:26

If no one has told you that you rock today, then let me be the first. :) I think that was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!

Melody Fletcher May 24, 2012 at 01:27

Thanks Jenapher. Glad I could help. :)

Jane May 23, 2012 at 05:12

Lol damn you Melody :) this was a little too timely. I woke up crying from a dream this morning because I felt guilty, I didn’t call in sick today because I felt guilty about letting people down and then I read this. Ok ok I get it universe! So I reframed my ‘guilt’ and my story wasn’t quite right. Funnily enough I don’t normally do guilt. Maybe I was just using it as another way to lower my self-esteem today. My life is changing and feeling ‘bad’ is a great way to fight change. Not.

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 16:54

Hey Jane,

Sounds like you’re doing great! Of course, we all experience guilt and other negative feelings from time to time. The trick is not to eliminate negative emotion, but to notice it ASAP and then shift out of it. And that’s exactly what you did. You noticed your guilt, decided it wasn’t helping you and looked for a better feeling perspective.

The kind of guilt you’re talking about is a little different. This is about valuing other people above yourself and not honoring your own wishes and needs. So, your body and emotions may have been telling you to stay home today, but you decided it was more important to not let others down. I’m not saying that’s wrong. In each moment, you have to make the decision of what feels better. Does it feel better to me to stay home or go to work? Sometimes, you have to decide which feels worse and do the opposite.

So, if letting people down (or the perception of letting people down. Would they really not have been ok without you for one day?) feels worse than the pain of not staying home and dealing with whatever was coming up, then going to work is the “best” option at that moment. Ultimately, though, it felt worse because you don’t feel entitled to take some time for yourself when you need it, unless you’re gravely ill (this is why people will manifest a flu when they should’ve stayed home weeks ago but didn’t. It forces them to stop or at least slow way down).

The irony is that when we truly honor ourselves and listen to our intuition, when we take a break when we need one, we also become MUCH more productive when we get back to work. Alignment comes with huge leverage. So, even if you miss a day or half day of work, if it’s for your own alignment’s sake, your work will reap the benefit of that break in the coming days. Many employers don’t yet understand this, but believe me, I’ve put this to the test in the corporate environment and many companies are now becoming more flexible with their working hours to suit their employee’s needs PRECISELY for this very reason. They’ve figured out that when people have the time to tend to their own needs, they work better, smarter, faster and are a hell of a lot more creative.

So there. Now you have permission to stay home. :)

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Jenapher May 23, 2012 at 17:32

Ooohh.. I used to have big guilt about calling in sick, but then I realized that it wasn’t my belief at all. It was something that I was conditioned to believe, that I would “let people down” (or get fired) if I called in sick. But then I realized that my health and sanity needed to come first and slowly I was able to let go of it when I noticed that it wasn’t as big of a deal as *I* was making it out to be. Hope that helps! :)

Debi @MysticPassage May 25, 2012 at 15:06

People around me seem to be so miserable most of the time (I live in an area which has a major depressive/oppressive energy). It used to be almost impossible for me to “stand on my own” in it but I’m getting the hang of it. Thing is … I noticed that I often hide my contentment/happiness as I don’t want to be the “Tigger” that annoys “Eyore”. I sometimes find myself feeling guilty for being so happy. Is this basically putting value on others and their feelings rather than valuing myself?
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Melody Fletcher May 25, 2012 at 16:04

Hey Debi,

I would say that yes, it’s about you caring too much about what others are thinking, as well as the misunderstanding that you are “harming” them (annoying them, etc.) in some way by being too happy. Quite the opposite is true. Sure, your happiness is highlighting their unhappiness. But you are not creating their unhappiness. Your high vibration is simply serving to make them more aware of their grumpy one, which is there either way. It’s like if you’re on fire, and someone comes up and says “You’re on fire” and suddenly you realize it. And then you’re mad at the person who made you aware of it, because before you may have been burning to death, but at least you didn’t know it. It’s like that. You’re the person who, by not being on fire, is making them aware that they’re starting to get crispy. Setting yourself on fire so that you’ll fit in and no longer “trigger” them isn’t the answer.
You don’t have to rub people’s noses in it by actively trying to cheer them up (that’s usually what’s so annoying). Just be who you are, be happy, jump into the conversation when you’re inspired to and sit there in your high vibration. You may be surprised at how the mood of those around you changes. If you refuse to lower your vibration, they will have to either raise theirs to match yours or they will have to get away from you. Most people are so unconscious about their vibrations, they will allow their vibration to rise. Don’t try to raise them, just let it happen. Your presence is enough.

I hope that helps. :)

Huge HSP Hugs!
Melody
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Ashamed and remorseful May 23, 2012 at 05:23

You have a beautiful post here but I still suffer from guilt because I knew in the moment that it was wrong and against my beliefs and ideals. Granted I was stressed, scared, overwhelmed, poor, no support, you name it, but I just can’t forgive myself. Please help.

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 17:08

Hey Ashamed,

If you knew in the moment that it was “wrong”, then I would venture that even if another option was logically available to you, it wasn’t emotionally viable for you. Your brain was saying “don’t do it”, and yet emotionally, it seemed like you had no choice. You couldn’t help yourself. You needed relief. It’s like when a pressure cooker overheat and explodes. You can try to control the explosion, but good luck with that.

The question is not “why couldn’t you control yourself”, but rather, “What was it you were feeling at the time?” What thoughts did you have about yourself that were so painful that you couldn’t take them anymore? Do you still have those thoughts?

This incident carries a lot of useful information for you – use it. Learn from it. If you cannot forgive yourself on your own, get some help, either from me or some other kind of counselor, coach or therapist. You cannot change what happened in the past. No matter how much you suffer now, no matter how much you punish yourself now, it will not change anything that happened. That is not an option, so stop looking in that direction. Your only options now are 1.) Keep wallowing in your guilt and keep yourself stuck exactly where you are. That’s kind of like putting the lid on the pressure cooker again. Eventually, you’re going to have another mess. 2.) Use this experience to release the original beliefs, if you’ve not already done so, and move closer to who you really are, a powerful, loving being that not only feels abundant joy, but spreads it to others. If you want to do good, if you want to “give back”, if you want to heal the world, you have to start with yourself.

It’s ok for you to feel better. It really is. There’s a huge difference between denial, where you decide not to take responsibility for your actions, push them away and decide to pretend to feel better and taking FULL responsibility for how you manifested the situation you did, where you had no choice but to react the way you did to get some relief from your suffering and then using that incident to actually shift your energy, so that this kind of situation never become necessary again. And when you do shift that energy, you’ll be doing yourself and the world a lot of good, because not only will you be raising your own vibration, but you’ll be raising the vibration of all that is a little bit, too, which helps all of us (physical and non-physical).

So, you know, keeping yourself in pain is actually kind of the selfish thing to do here, you martyr you. :lol:

Did that help?

Huge hugs and I’m rooting for you! :)

Melody
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Ashamed and remorseful May 24, 2012 at 03:37

Yes! That helped a lot. Thank you!

Reese May 23, 2012 at 15:12

I think women wallow in guilt more often then men do because women tend to overthink matters and get emotional. If men feel guilt, they can easily distract themselves with various activities. That’s based on personal experience. There are still times that I blame myself for my break up with my ex. Although, we both know we have our share of mistakes.
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Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 17:18

Hey Reese,

That’s an interesting theory. I’ll have to have a think on that. I tend to think that men just display and handle their guilt differently. Any men out there care to chime in?

I find it so interesting that there’s so much blame when two people break up. Nothing actually went wrong. You were a match to each other, you caused each other to grow by showing each other what you liked and what you didn’t like (which caused you to create a bigger, better relationship), you then didn’t or couldn’t move into that new relationship together, and so you broke up, freeing yourselves to find the person that matched that new vibration. Only, when you keep blaming each other or yourselves for not being able to match that new energy, it keeps you stuck there.

So what if you couldn’t both become a match for the new relationship that you’d created together? I don’t blame my TV for not being HD ready… If I now want HD, I’ll have to find a TV that has that capability. I know that sounds simplistic, but it really is like that. Be grateful for what the relationship showed you about yourself and how it helped you define an even better relationship and don’t blame him or yourself for not being able to bully yourselves into fitting the new mold. If you weren’t both a match to that new energy, there was noting either of you could’ve done to MAKE yourselves match it.

So, you know, Man up and let go of the guilt. LOL.

Huge happy shiny puppy hugs!

Melody
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naomi May 23, 2012 at 16:10

mother guilt a biggie for me – all the things i coulda shoulda done better, more…! This blog has helped immensely this year, hindsight starting to look like: i did my best every day. thanks so much mel X

Melody Fletcher May 23, 2012 at 17:20

You’re so very welcome Naomi! And thanks so much for your kind feedback. Your children are your biggest teachers – they will help you overcome a lot of nasty beliefs. Guilt is one of them. They provide you with LOTS of opportunities to feel guilty, bless their little hearts. :) Bravo for shifting out of that! It certainly is a biggie.

Huge hugs!
Melody

Mary Carol Moran May 24, 2012 at 05:28

Hi Melody,

Thank you for another thought-provoking post.

For me, guilt and blame are so tied together that I can’t separate them. The best course for me seems to be to try to eliminate blame from my thinking. The hardest for me right now are the tiny immediate thoughts: I can’t find a paper – therefore someone must have moved it. Not rational, since I forget things all the time! Mostly I let the blame-thoughts go in seconds; maybe one day they won’t occur.

I like the way you distinguish between physical possibilities and emotional possibilities. Everyone, not just ourselves, is doing the best they can, even when their best is pretty awful for us.

You remind us often to see the best in people – I call it the Golden Baby. When we see that best in everyone, including ourselves, we realize that neither guilt nor blame makes any sense.

Warm hugs,

Mary Carol
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Melody Fletcher May 25, 2012 at 00:36

Hey Mary Carol,

I think you’re right. Guilt is really just another way to say self-blame. The way out of that is to direct the blame at someone else, then shift up into higher and higher frequencies. This can happen very quickly, which is the goal. We don’t have to spend any time in those negative emotions. A few seconds is enough.

I love your golden baby. I think when we see guilt and blame for what they really are (in this case, inventing options that didn’t actually exist), we realize, as you said, that the thoughts that caused these feelings don’t make any sense. It’s really about becoming aware of the thought processes behind the emotions. :)

Huge golden baby retriever hugs! Ha.

Melody
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patricia May 24, 2012 at 21:10

I am feeling guilty right now about not earning any money at the moment. I am sure that I will be able to pay off our medical bill, but my partner feels awful about not being able to retire or purchase a new bike and vacation by taking a tour in the fall….I just have to go through the list and remind myself that I made the correct decision to the best of my ability and knowledge at the time. I am writing about quitting my last income job today on Patricias Wisdom. I could not work for a company that has enough funds to promote hate, so I celebrate my wisdom of removing myself from their company – I just wish I had the next possibility lined up. 4 years of job hunting though is playing havoc with the thinking and feeling zones…
It is easier said than done :)
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Melody Fletcher May 25, 2012 at 00:39

Hey Patricia,

The process is simple, but no one ever said it was easy… ;)
It sounds like you are starting to dissect your guilt and put it in perspective, which will allow you to release it once and for all. It takes time, but you’ll get there. All in perfect timing. :)

Perhaps leaving this job, which you no longer resonate with will help you to shift faster. Sometimes we have to leave the environment we’re in to shift…

Huge hugs!
Melody

H. July 12, 2012 at 15:23

Dear Melody,

Thank you for your wonderful blog where you try to make freaking sense and really connect with yourself and with people.

Right now I am in my late twenties and been the past few months trough a personal journey of awareness and de-blocking all the defense mechanisms that now I know that only served me for a brief relief and denial only to move forward without taking the necessary recovery steps. I see this awareness as a result of an unconscious force of pasts events coming to surface.

One of my few struggles has been guilt. I have a sister who is ten years older than me. Incredibly smart and talented and her career made her move away far away from our country of origin. Our parents made the best they could in our education. Even our mother who was several times verbal and physically abusive twards us (first my sister and the me, when I entered adolescence). By the time my sister was the abused one (only after at the age 17 to go to college and escaped all this), I was seven. I saw all things from a child point of view. That time, my sister seemed distant, didn’t want to play with me, had nervous rants and all that seemed to me like she was the weird and deserved that. There were times that I thought teasing her was a funny game. That time I tried to be mommy’s princesse as a way to not become like her – because it scared the hell out of me. Nowadays, I still have some memories of me as a child crying and standing between her and our mother (who by the way, has evolved, feel lots of guilt, even though it’s hard for her to talk about, and her caring and loving self is on the surface… she really became very supportive emotionally and in contact with her true self). I also have a particular flashback where I tell my sister that she can do whatever pranks she wants in our house (in a weekend away from college) and lay the blame on me, to compensate her.

There are lots of more emotionally complex moments. But I’m writing to you because I’ve read this post today, right after the one related to your point on religion (I actually share many of your views with you).

It was a nice coincidence since during this personal period of awareness and de-toxing, I have realised so many things… Yesterday, before I went to bed, I found myself praying to bring her the happiness she is in need, not only because I care and love her and her happiness makes me smile. But also because this patterns cause suffering, not only in me but in her – who I believe is the one who is suffering the most, and in a self inflicted way… She still nowadays reminds me in our e-mails (when I react to something that she points about my personality that is exagerated) and says that if she feels ressentment or doesn’t understant or apreciate something I say and doesn’t express right ahead her feelings (only months or years after), I should know, since she cattered to me during my childhood and adolescence (remember she moved out to college at the age of 17)…

I went trough some problems that were very similar to hers. I never wished them, or wanted them, some were unfair and out of my control. But I think somehow my mind conformed me to that and a small part of me kind of “enjoyed it” because there was a divine justice because of me being a bratt to my sister. And in time we bonded over that. Now as adults, when I can see that she might exagerate some of the bad memories as a away to assert some identity and some de-responsabilization of her behaviour that is hurtful. I think she is also full of guilt (that is beyond my understanding) and also has trouble in forgiveness. The fact that she is an immigrant for 14 years enhance all that.

As an adult she is a very atractive, confident in her academic skills, interesting woman. But with me, for instance, when we are on the beach she says things like “here you are with your elegant body, and with your fat cow sister”. She also points things that I’ve experienced and she never did at the time (first adolescent love, passionate (?) relationships that last more than 4 months). Even though, she has had a life full of experiences, and I’m still learning to life my life at it’s fullest and letting go of limiting beliefs… I think also that a small part of my love for her and wishing happiness is based on guilt. I realized also trough my personal meditation and a “letting go” attitude, that everytime I have experience some glimpse happiness that my sister never had, I feel guilty. I’m happy that I’ve come to this conclusion (because know I can deal with it a pursue my path for a better well being), but I would like some insight…

Do you have any advice on this particular case?

Thank you so much for your attention…

Lots of love.

H.

Melody Fletcher July 12, 2012 at 16:49

Hey H,

Well, it’s clear that your sister is quite jealous of you (not in an ugly way, but in a way that makes her sad). She may think that your life was easier than hers, that she missed out on a lot of things because of the way you both grew up. She clearly has some self-esteem issues and when she compares herself to you, in her mind, she loses. There’s not much that you can do about that directly. You can tell her how pretty she is, etc., but if she can’t hear you, she can’t hear you.

You are feeling guilty about things that you did as a child – about not being more sensitive, or not reacting the way a perfect and enlightened adult would. Do you think you had the ability to react that way back then? Or is it more likely that you were doing the best that you could. You are judging your past self through the eyes of your current understanding. But would it really have been possible for a child to see what was really going on and then react in such a way that it would soothe all of those involved? How much responsibility do you wan to heap onto this child? That’s more than anyone could do!

Of course you were a brat sometimes! All kids are at times. You were in a situation that made you feel powerless to different degrees and you did your best to react to that. So sometimes, you lashed out. At others, you subjugated yourself and did all you could to try and make those around you happy. You decided that their happiness was worth more than yours. Neither of those perspectives felt very good and neither was healthy, but you had to experience both in order to find your balance.

And your sister did the same thing, in her own way. You both experienced the same events, but in your own, unique ways. So you reacted slightly differently.

Keep letting go of your guilt. And when you speak with your sister, don’t look at her pain. Don’t give your energy to that version of her. Give your energy to Who She Really Is. Focus on the things that she’s happy about and what it’s like when she smiles, when she displays confidence. This will help her find her way to those feelings in more and bigger ways. And while you’re at it, do the same for yourself. :)

I hope that was helpful. Thank your for sharing so generously of yourself here.

Huge hugs!
Melody
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H. July 12, 2012 at 17:39

Thank you! That helped me clear my head and reassuring that I will be more relaxed when any “agressiveness” come and more enlightened if she confides some of her feelings of sadness.

Best wishes*

Andy August 9, 2012 at 18:53

After reading your article, i did look back on stuff i am guilty about and analyzed my options given my emotional state. Yeah i did the best i could at that time. and you are so correct in saying..you cannot judge past things with your present perspective. All one can do is to be best at each moment and learn from past instances and move on.

Thanks a lot, though, i dont know whether such a positive impact on me will last long or not.

Melody Fletcher August 10, 2012 at 17:09

Hey Andy,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience here. The impact can last as long as you don’t start beating up on yourself again. You feel better because you shifted your perspective. Focus on and practice those new thoughts and the feeling will last. :)

Huge hugs!

Melody
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Mixed up dad September 14, 2012 at 01:10

Hi I’ve read all the posts and they all make sense to me,
My problem is I’m stuck in a marriage that no longer works,we have two lovely children and the thought of being away from them terifies me,my wife is what can only be described as an emotional bully,she knows that the thought of my children growing up without their dad is the last thing I want,we can’t argue! If I do then it’s got to escalate so far that she threatens to leave or she wants me to leave,Im a fairly quiet bloke anyway but feel really oppressed,then she wonders why I don’t talk much!she makes me feel like I’m trapped with no way out..id like our marriage to work but weve tried so many times to patch things up that ive got no more energy to invest in it.it doesn’t help that I’m quite old fashioned really and value marriage and the vows I took.I always said that ill only ever get married once.
I think I know what I need to do,but I can’t bring myself to do it…I’ll feel as though I’d be taking the easy option and I’d abandoned my children and left them to a life with an aggressive and bullying mother,if I’m there at least I know that I can stick up for them.
I grew up without my biological father and never knew him until I was 21.
I was no angel when I was growing up and didn’t always treat the girlfriends I had with the respect that I should have,I had a bit of a wandering eye!
Maybe it’s that guilt that’s making me think that this is what I deserve, I don’t know!
Someone else’s perspective on my situation might help.

Melody Fletcher September 16, 2012 at 17:24

Hey Mixed up Dad,

I get that you value your vows and I don’t want to tell you what to believe on that, but I’ve got some questions for you. Try to answer honestly (you don’t have to write your answers here, you can just do this for yourself).

Are you happy?
Do you believe that God is more interested in you keeping your vows no matter what than you being happy?
If there is no way for you and your wife to be happy in this marriage, and I’m not saying that there isn’t, do you believe that God would want you to stay?
Do you believe an unhappy marriage is a good thing for your kids to see?

I’m not trying to talk you into divorce, but much of your feeling of being trapped is because you don’t see leaving as an option. By making it an option in your mind, even if it’s one you choose not to exercise, you can feel less trapped. If it’s your choice to stay, that’s one thing. If you don’t believe you can leave, that’s another.

You are choosing to stay, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. But why? Because you want to protect your children. You think the only options available here are 1.) Stay and protect them from their bullying mom and 2.) Leave and leave them exposed to their bullying mom.

But how about this: 3.) Leave and get happy, and provide your kids with the balance of seeing what happiness and kindness look like. Then, they’ll have two extremes to work with and they won’t be influenced by your fear or trapped feelings but by your freedom and joy.

Or this: 4.) Stay and line up with the feelings of freedom and happiness and joy, causing you to be inaccessible to your wife unless she’s in that vicinity. You may even influence her to better feelings so the need for bullying will stop.

The bottom line here is that right now, you need your wife to change so that you can feel better. But that will never work. You can feel better right now, and then, that will elicit a different version of your wife. She may leave, if she cannot rise up to meet you, but you can shape that experience too. You don’t have to lose your kids or stop being a role model for them. But you can protect them with your energy much better than you can with your mere physical presence.

I’m not implying that any of this will be easy. You’re right in the middle of a volatile situation. Shifting your energy in the midst of that will be hard. But it can be done. The key is to practice as much as you can when you’re NOT around your wife and not being triggered.

If you’d like more support, I do offer coaching. By connecting with you, I could also connect with your wife and give you more insights into what’s really going on with her. That could easily cause you to trigger her less, diffusing the situation quite a bit.

But either way, this is not punishment for how you treated women in the past. It doesn’t work that way. You deserve to be happy. So does your wife. And so do your kids. And the fact that you’re reaching out here means that you’re coming to understand that. You’re no longer willing to put up with being unhappy. You may not quite yet know how to shift out of this, but you’ve taken the first big step: realizing that you don’t like where you’re at and that there must be something better. :)

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Mixed up dad September 17, 2012 at 22:14

Hi Melody
Thank you ever so much for taking the time and reading my post,
I do feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel..just knowing that someone has listened and give a totally impartial response to my problem has really helped me.
I totally agree with what you’ve said and the options available to me,I do not know how this will turn out but I feel a little less trapped already..and for the first time in weeks I’ve had a spring in my stride.
I’m making every minute with my children count and having as much fun as possible with them as my wife is still threatening to leave.
But whatever happens I think it will be for the best.
Thanks once again
Kind regards
Dave

Melody Fletcher September 18, 2012 at 15:08

You’re so very welcome Dave! I’m glad my words could help a little. Keep focusing on scenarios that make you feel better. :)

Huge happy shiny puppy hugs to you and your family.

Melody
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Figgy October 25, 2012 at 14:02

Hey Melody, great piece, I found it helpful.. But can’t seem to move on. I’m struggling with guilt of huge proportions. I said some awful things to my mum the last time I saw her. It was 3months of hell, mum went to hospital randomly after suffering frm headaches and they found a brain tumour and operated straight away. She wasn’t the same after tht and didn’t come out of hospital, she would struggle putting sentences together and was really restricted with what she could do, although she was concious. I never knew everytime I said gd bye whether thtd b the last time and I kinda wish it was because I would feel peace tht I left things on gd terms. But one day when I felt really intrusive thoughts, I said things to her that it was if I didn’t love her and tried to block all my ways out of that, like trying to explain away the reasons why I’m visiting her anyway. We didn’t have a bad relationship at all, in fact I was a mummy’s boy and our attachment was strong. This tragic thing happened when I was 18 and I lost my dad also, just 3months later. I’m 25 now and I still carry this guilt with me everyday, it blocks me frm really being myself, I lose weight and I feel the worst! But I can’t find a way to forgive myself and i don’t know what my motivation for saying that nasty nasty stuff was, apart from my mind was racing thinking of every worse outcome I could leave it in and I gave in and said those things aloud. Some of this stuff felt true though and I think she would see it that way. I never got the time to find out or apologise, she died the next day. I miss my parents terribly. Please could you offer any words of advice to lift this burden from me and move on.

Melody Fletcher October 30, 2012 at 02:06

Hi Figgy,

I can’t tell you exactly why you said those things. But I can tell you that you were expressing some real pain and it was imperative that you do so before your mom passed. She was there for you to work through it. She held on until you did. And when she’d participated in that event, as she wanted to (from a spiritual level), she was free to transition.

Nothing went wrong here. You didn’t hurt her and she has completely forgiven you. This was a message to you, and if you understand that you were expressing something, that what you were expressing was something you need to let go of, then you can begin the work to do that. Your guilt over hurting your mom has shut that process down. There’s work for you to do, but it has more to do with what your mom was helping you to release than how that happened.

She was in on that game. She did it willingly. And now, she just wants you to be happy. Whatever you addressed that day is keeping you from that happiness. It was really important that you see it. Your mom gave you a gift by triggering you in some way. Look for what was triggered, what feelings came up as you snapped at her. What was said. Think about that, and if you can’t figure it out, get some help with it.

Stop torturing yourself, my sweet, and understand that your mom is still very much around. You can’t feel her when you’re in grief and pain but she’s there. Even just from the little bit I can connect with you here, I can feel her shining all around you, supporting you. Let go of the guilt and look for the gift.

I hope that helped.

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Vidya Sury October 30, 2012 at 08:05

Amazing post. You know, Melody, I don’t feel guilty. At most, just a wee bit, before I pull myself up and realize I couldn’t have done better, given the situation and the circumstances. As you said, hindsight goggles can really freak one out and we can go on and on for eternity if we choose to. What I do struggle with once in a while is blaming myself, thinking I could have prevented something. In a weird way, when I do that, I find it easier to tackle because it is now in my hands to get over and move on. Does that make sense? Blaming someone else, even if it is deserving, is so much harder to handle.

But overall, I am grateful that feeling guilty for prolonged periods is just not in my mental makeup. So maybe I feel guilty I had three slices of “death by chocolate” instead of one or .. for that matter, none. I can however work it off, I hope. :D Life is too short to waste feeling guilty. I do know someone who would benefit like crazy from this post, though!

Happy shiny puppy hugs. Love you. Vidya
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Melody Fletcher October 31, 2012 at 17:55

Hey Vidya,

That’s so brilliant. I’m glad you don’t feel guilty. I no longer do, either, and it’s just so freeing. I grew up Catholic, so guilt was instilled in me from birth, lol. So, if I can overcome it, anyone can. You’re so right: Life is too short to waste it on feeling guilty. Yay!

Huge guilt-free, chocolately hugs!

Melody
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Samuel December 5, 2012 at 16:57

Hello Melody

The post was amazing. It provided me a starting point to think over to let go of my tremendous guilt and starting from scratch.

Perhaps you put in a great deal of time and effort to read people’s stories and respond to them, so I thought of sharing my story.

I got diagnosed with ADHD. I had difficulty understanding instructions, so had to give up my software development job. Had a short stint in business, but that didn’t work out. I changed my field, got into a completely different field and doing good now.

All these I have been full of guilt over what I could have done and how people cheated on me, taking advantage of me. I will definitely work on the points mentioned in the post. I am extremely thankful to you for the post and helping me out.

Regards
Samuel

Melody Fletcher December 10, 2012 at 17:57

Hey Samuel,

Thanks for sharing! I strongly suggest that you go into my archives and find my post on ADD. I think it will bring you some clarity. :)

Huge hugs!

Melody
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Sereena December 17, 2012 at 03:56

Thank you so much for this information. I have felt deep guilt and remorse for decisions I made over 20 years ago that have reduced me to terrible grief and sorrow, off and on, during that time.

But this article has opened my eyes and really helped me to see that the decisions I made were the best at the time, because everything looks different in hindsight! The hindsight goggles have been a permanent fixture in my mind whenever I think of the things I have done that have caused me so much guilt and sorry.

Now I know why I have been bashing myself up for all these years. I’m going to go and read your article on regret now, because, as you say, guilt and regret go hand in hand.

One question I would ask though. Now that I have this clarity and can see why I have felt so much guilt, will it automatically disappear or is there some way to release it permanently? Knowing how toxic such negative emotions can be to the body, is there some form of ritual that can release this toxin?

Melody Fletcher December 24, 2012 at 14:39

Hey Sereena,

I’m so glad this post was helpful to you. There’s no ritual that I can give you generically (there are healing visualizations you can do to forgive yourself, but the process of explaining that is too lengthy to describe here. I’ve made a note to write more about it later). The main key is that you practice these new, better feeling thoughts. When you find yourself beating up on yourself, stop and take a moment to remember your insight – you did the best you could at the time. You might have to repeat that a few times. You’ll get opportunities to do so, negative thoughts that still need to be released will pop up until they’re gone. It never all hits at once. That would be incredibly uncomfortable. You get a chance to do it bit by bit. Practice that new vibration and before you know it, no more negative thoughts about this incident will remain. And neither will the guilt. :)

Huge hugs,

Melody
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Bianca March 2, 2013 at 06:54

Dear Melody,

Nice article, easy to understand logic behind how to forgive ourselves, unfortunately it’s not so easy. I don’t consider myself bad person, in fact I always try to be there for others. Recently I have been under huge pressure from work and wasn’t thinking clearly (not trying to justify what I did although it might seem like I am) and made an error of judgment. I have spoken to couple of friends who, like you, are being supportive and are telling me to learn from mistake and forgive myself. Unfortunately they are only two who know about my mistake and who are encouraging me not to fess up to the person who I wronged. Now I am unable to forgive myself and move on. How can I forgive myself if the person who I wronged has no idea and I can’t ask them to forgive me? I know from your other article that you wrote we not necessary need other persons forgiveness to forgive ourself, but how? I simply can’t see it working. Any suggestions??

Melody Fletcher March 3, 2013 at 22:10

Hey Bianca,

It’s a bit difficult to give advice that wasn’t already covered in this post without knowing the particulars. Ask yourself: Why is this thing you did so horrible? Why are you beating up on yourself so severely? What does it say about you to you that you did this thing? Is that true? Are you truly a horrible person, for example, because you made a mistake?

If you can’t let go of guilt, you are generally taking the consequences to extremes in your mind. It’s helpful to dissect how you truly feel and reign that back in. Become more realistic about the damage you’ve done. Unfortunately, without having a conversation with you, I wouldn’t be able to offer any more specific advice than that.

Huge hugs,

Melody
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Cr8emma April 3, 2013 at 09:21

Thank you for this post. I came across it randomly and I find it very helpful.

My “problem” is trivial, but has been causing me a ridiculous amount of anguish. I feel guilty about my college career/degree. I started as a Biology major because I intended to become a scientist (molecular biologist). However in 2nd year, I was going through a tough time with my classes. Out of desperation, I dropped my Biology major to finish my college degree in International Studies. While I enjoyed the remainder of my studies, now as a recent graduate I feel incredibly guilty for giving up on my science degree. In spite of my previous struggles, I still love science and wish I could have become a scientist. I feel like I let down everyone like my professors who believed in me, and my parents who are both scientists. I am also constantly berated for my now “useless” degree, and it makes me feel ashamed and weak. I went to university on a scholarship and feel bad for wasting gov’t/taxpayer money on a liberal arts degree that is considered useless by society. I feel like a total failure. Wish I could get over this feeling but it is hard to let it go!

James May 10, 2013 at 23:43

I read ur article about guilt and found it to be very helpful. Years ago I went through a manic episode where I was very reckless in my behavior. It led me to get involved with the wife of a friend. At the time I knew what I was doing was wrong, but at the time I was just so happy to be with that person that I was selfish and couldn’t stop seeing them. We remain together but now I spend most of my time feeling so guilty about it that I don’t enjoy life anymore and our relationship is poor. I really want to move on from this guilt and have a useful life, but guilt is so powerful it seems.

Andy May 15, 2013 at 20:44

Hello Melody, I know you are busy with other things; but I just wanted to say thanks for writing this article. I have been carrying alot of guilt over these past 4 years. Long story short, I let the best thing that ever happen to me walk out of my life and never even made a attempt to try get back with her(Not even a phone call). Now that I know what is important, it is already too late. I know this is my journey that I have to walk, but just am really sad that i had to lose her in order learn what I have now.

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