The relationship between guilt and depression is so strong that guilt is often considered a symptom of depression.
However, remember that this is a completely misguided view, because there are no symptoms of depression. Instead, there are only factors that contribute to depression, so properly understood, guilt is a major factor that can contribute to you feeling depressed.
This makes complete sense, if you think about it. After all, if you’re feeling guilty on a regular basis, then you’re regularly feeling bad, so life is less enjoyable and worthwhile for you. Furthermore, guilt is a stressful emotion that leaves you feeling fatigued, exhausted, and irritable.
All of this significantly contributes to depression.
For this reason, it’s important that you don’t make the common mistake of learning how to cope with guilt or how to live with guilt, and thereby resign yourself to feeling bad and guilty about things for the rest of your life.
Instead, learn how to get rid of guilt and never deal with it again, so that you can become and remain depression-free faster and easier. Right now, you’re going to learn how to do that step by step.
How to stop feeling guilty by seeing little or no value in guilt
One of the most important steps for getting rid of guilty feelings is to see little or no value in continuously feeling guilty.
The reason for this is that if you think that guilt is a good thing that makes you or your life better in any way, your mind will naturally try to “help” you feel guilty, as if it’s doing you a favor. In other words, you won’t be able to get rid of the guilt, since your mind is actively trying to create it.
So make sure that you don’t make the common mistake of thinking that feeling guilty makes you a good or better person in any way. It doesn’t.
Think about it: what makes you a good or better person is improving your life and well-being, improving your thinking, and improving the way you treat others.
All guilt does is make you feel bad. That’s it.
Yes, guilt can certainly alert you that there is some opportunity for improvement in your life, and therefore serve as a catalyst for you to improve your thinking, lifestyle, and the way you treat others. But it’s actually improving your life in some way that makes you a better person, not the guilt.
For this reason, see little or no value in feeling guilty, other than appreciating that it can alert you to opportunities for improvement in your life. Instead, see lots of value in improving your life in a peaceful, guilt-free way, since it’s improving your life that makes you a better person.
This clear understanding will already naturally make it a lot easier for you to get rid of guilt as quickly as possible.
How to overcome guilt by questioning your guilt
Guilt is ultimately created by thinking that you did something bad or wrong. It’s important to appreciate that if you feel guilty, sometimes you didn’t do anything bad or wrong at all; once you clearly understand this, your guilt naturally disappears.
For this reason, taking a moment to question whether what you did was really bad or wrong is a helpful thing to do, especially since you can feel guilty about all sorts of things that might not be so bad or wrong, once you think about them some more.
For example, it’s completely possible to feel guilty about being born, as if by being born you did something bad or wrong that made everyone’s lives worse. If you think about it, it wasn’t even your choice to be born, so it’s nonsensical to think that you did something bad or wrong just by being brought into existence.
Furthermore, it’s helpful to appreciate that other people sometimes try to make you feel guilty due to their own agenda, and that you don’t have to view some things as bad, or wrong, or a sin, just because other people view them that way.
For example some people feel guilt and shame for masturbating, since they were taught to see masturbation as bad or wrong, while other people don’t feel guilty in the slightest masturbating, since they view it as just fine or even healthy.
Regardless of your position on this matter, the important insight is that you seeing something as bad or wrong is what actually creates the feelings of guilt. For this reason, it’s worth taking just a moment to question whether you’ve really done anything bad or wrong.
If you come to the conclusion that you haven’t, that’s great. Your guilt naturally disappears. But if you come to the conclusion that you did do something bad or wrong, that’s fine, too. You can still learn how to handle it constructively, without continuing to feel guilty.
Should you feel guilty if you did something bad or wrong?
Let’s say that you think you definitely did something bad or wrong, like betraying a friend, for example.
Lots of people will tell you that you should feel guilty, as if it’s good or right for you to continue feeling bad and guilty about what you’ve done until the end of time. Others might even say that you deserve to feel guilty, as if the guilt you feel is some sort of just reward for your actions.
Unfortunately, this mentality teaches you to feel bad just for the sake of feeling bad, which is not good at all.
Think about it: if you think it’s good or right for you to feel bad about what you did for the rest of your life, then for the rest of your life you will be motivated to feel awful, as if you’re doing the good, right thing!
As a result, life will naturally be more stressful and less enjoyable for you, and this can naturally lead to things like depression, which makes you of less value to both yourself and others. So feeling bad in perpetuity is definitely not a good, right thing to do, considering how destructive it is.
The lesson, here, is that even if you come to the conclusion that what you did was bad or wrong, that does not mean that it’s good or right for you to feel perpetually guilty and bad about it.
Instead, the good thing to do is to learn from what you’ve done, and to use that knowledge to help improve your life and the lives of others in the future. Furthermore, it’s both ok and great to stop feeling bad and guilty as soon as possible, since this is part of improving your life and well-being.
How to deal with guilt constructively and feel better
The reason guilt is such a stressful, exhausting emotion, is that when you recognize you did something bad, wrong, or even harmful, you can naturally start thinking that you can’t accept or handle what you did.
Remember, though, you can accept and handle anything constructively. By appreciating that you can accept and handle whatever you did constructively, you naturally are more at peace with what you did, even if you recognize that it was bad or wrong.
From that moment forward, you’re focused on what you can do to help improve your life and the lives of others in the aftermath, which is good.
So, for example, if you betrayed a friend, you can accept and handle what you did in a constructive manner. Even if your friend cuts off all contact with you, you can still learn from this, and make sure that you don’t betray other friends like that in the future.
By doing so, you recognize that you can’t change the past, but you can certainly take steps to improve your future, which is all that matters at this point.
In this way, you constructively learn, gain, and benefit from your actions and experiences in life, which is extremely important for you to appreciate and recognize. After all, another reason guilt can be so stressful is that you can assume that no good can come from what you’ve done.
However, if you’re learning from your past, and taking action to help improve your life and the lives of others in the aftermath of what you’ve done, then you’re conclusively proving that some good can and will come from what you’ve done. This naturally helps you feel even better and more at peace, which is also good.
How to get rid of guilt: 4 steps
You’ve just learned how guilt can be useful in the sense that it alerts you to opportunities for improvement in your life, but other than this, guilt is of no value. Indeed, it’s extremely self-destructive to continue feeling bad for the sake of feeling bad, and it can lead to depression.
For these reasons, if you find yourself struggling with guilt, following these 4 steps to get rid of guilt as quickly as possible:
- See little or no value in continuing to feel guilty, and see lots of positive value in improving your life and well-being in a guilt-free way.
- Challenge whether what you did was really bad or wrong, and see if it might be ok or even good the more you think about it.
- Even if you think you did something bad or wrong, appreciate that it’s never good or right to continue feeling guilty for what you did. Instead, what’s good is to improve your life and the lives of others, as you learn constructively from what you did.
- Even if you think you did something bad or wrong, know that you can accept and handle what you did constructively, and that some good can from your past actions, since you can learn, gain, and benefit from whatever you did in a constructive way.
By following these 4 steps, you naturally get rid of guilt in a peaceful, constructive manner, and by doing so, you also naturally become and remain depression-free faster and easier. So this is how to get rid of guilt for good in the most intelligent, beneficial way possible.
Next: What Is Self Esteem & How Is It Related To Depression? →
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Section 7 Lessons:
- How to handle negative emotions with confidence
- How to get rid of bad feelings intelligently
- How to stop feeling sorry for yourself
- How to get rid of stress and depression
- How to be optimistic & stop being pessimistic
- How to get rid of anxiety and depression fast
- How to get rid of guilt