3 Tips to Remove the Guilt

boundaries guilt

Feeling guilty is often associated with the perception of having let someone down.  “I couldn’t go to my friend’s birthday party, I suck!” or “I left my brother alone on the bus, I’m such a shit!” or “I couldn’t stay late to help my boss with the big project, what a jerk I am!” These are statements riddled with guilt.

Truth is, guilt is anger turned inward and is, unsurprisingly, an important component in the screening of depression.  Feeling guilty is being mad at yourself for your behavior.  But, really, are you bad?  Did you really do something wrong?  Listen, I know we are not perfect and we will occasionally screw up, but individuals who experience significant guilt, blame themselves way too often.

So, how can we resolve excessive and inappropriate guilt?

Here are healthier thoughts about putting down a boundary about which you feel guilty.  These tips will help you reduce the guilt.

1) Putting down a boundary is healthy for you. You will train people on how you want to be treated.  If you do not want to stay late with your boss, saying “no”  will show them that you mean business.  Of course you can stay late on occasion, but you absolutely cannot breach your boundary every time.  The crazy awesome part about this is that your boss will end up respecting you more.  Too many people believe that saying “no” will cause others to dislike them, but the truth is you will end up getting more respect that you could possibly imagine.  They will value your time because you value your time.  Moreover, putting down a boundary will reduce burn-out rates and will reduce the chances of experiencing resentment in the future.  When you take care of yourself properly, you have no one to resent.

2) Other people also need your boundaries. Take your kids for example.  If you consistently cave and agree to giving them a chocolate bar every time you are waiting in line at the grocery store, you will train them into expecting chocolate each and every time.  By saying “no,” you teach your children that they cannot always have what they want and that you cannot always accommodate them.  This is an important lesson in helping your children become autonomous, resilient, and respectful.  Importantly, this also applies to adults.  For example, you cannot allow your neighbor to stroll over and walk into your house anytime they want, right?  You must set a boundary with this kind of behavior to teach them that they need to respect your limits.    

 3) Saying "yes" will undermine the resilience of other people.  In always saying “yes” to helping other people because you “feel bad” otherwise, you shortcut the integrity of their coping mechanisms and resilience.  When you put down a boundary, you are also choosing to believe that the other person will be alright.  They will find a way to maintain their stability and happiness - their well-being is not dependent on you. Say “no” and let the organic therapeutic work and natural consequences take effect.  Everyone will be better off for it.

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