Want to know how to deal with guilt so you can stop feeling guilty all the time? Learn about the 2 types of guilts and how to overcome them.
Picture this: You’re lying in bed, unable to sleep, as your mind replays a moment from your day. Maybe it was a harsh comment you made in a moment of stress. Or perhaps you forgot to call a friend on their birthday because you were swamped at work.
These moments of guilt nag at you, forming an uncomfortable knot in your stomach that just won’t loosen.
Over time carrying the weight of guilt can feel like you’re dragging around an invisible heavy anchor with you everywhere you go.
Forgiving yourself can feel out of reach – leaving you stuck in a relentless cycle of self-reproach that seems inescapable.
The challenge: How to learn from your mistakes – without letting them drag you down or define you?
No worries. I’m here to help you to master these challenging feelings so you can stop feeling guilty!
I’m writing this article because I’m a leading Behavioral Change Expert, the bestselling author of “Think Happy” and founder of The Anxiety Cure Course – which is a therapist-recommended online program.
I’ve spent decades studying the human mind and helping people to unlock their highest potential.
Coming up I am going to explain how to distinguish between two types of guilt. Plus how to harness the power of each kind of guilt for personal growth. So, let’s get started!
Guilt can be a constructive guide or a crippling foe.
The key is distinguishing between these two types of guilt:
Have you ever had a heated argument with a close friend – and in the heat of the moment, harsh words were exchanged? If so, you know that sinking feeling of regret? That’s healthy guilt, acting as your inner moral compass, gently guiding you back to your true north. It’s the internal voice that says, “I shouldn’t have said that,” reminding you of the power of your words and actions.
Empathy is the superhero sidekick of healthy guilt. It allows you to understand how your actions affect others, fostering a sense of responsibility and compassion. Your new mission should be to reflect on your actions – but not to berate yourself. This reflection is the cornerstone of personal growth – as well as stronger relationships. Here’s how to to deal with healthy guilt in a healthy way!
Healthy guilt is a call to action. It’s an invitation to make amends, to learn, and to grow.
Imagine this scenario: You’ve been working late hours for weeks, striving to meet every demand at work. One evening, you decide to leave work at a reasonable hour to have dinner with your family. But instead of enjoying this much-needed break, you are overwhelmed with guilt. A nagging voice in your head keeps whispering, “You should be working. You’re not doing enough.”
This is unhealthy guilt – it’s the voice that whispers “I’m not good enough” long after you’ve tried to make things right. Or it’s the guilt that arises from situations completely out of your control, like needing to balance work with personal life.
Unhealthy guilt traps you in a cycle of self-blame for things that are often beyond your influence or responsibility. It’s feeling guilty for not meeting unrealistic standards, like being the perfect employee, parent, or partner, all at once. This type of guilt is not about a specific action you regret – but a pervasive feeling of never living up to an impossible ideal.
Unhealthy guilt often stems from deeper issues — unrealistic self-expectations, past traumas, or external pressures. It’s less about what you did and more about how you view yourself. Understanding these roots is crucial. Are you holding yourself to impossible standards? Are past experiences coloring your present? If so, here are some strategies to help you stop feeling guilty.
In this mantra, the focus is on self-acceptance and releasing the burden of striving for unattainable standards. It serves as a gentle reminder that your worth isn’t defined by perfection or external achievements – and shifts the perspective from a critical self-view to one of compassion and rationality.
Navigating guilt is not about avoiding it, but learning to recognize its forms and dealing with them appropriately.
By understanding and addressing both types of guilt, you can transform guilt from a stumbling block into a stepping stone. Plus, remember, at the end of the day, we’re all wonderfully imperfect humans, stumbling, making mistakes, learning, and growing. And that’s perfectly okay.
If you want further support to stop feeling guilt, maybe it’s time to chat with a Mindset Mastery Coach – like myself. I encourage you to explore my 1 on 1 Zoom Mindset Mastery Sessions. I will help you to master your thoughts, beliefs and habits – so you can enjoy your life more.
Explore my bestselling, research-based online program, The Anxiety Cure Online Course – which is therapist recommended.