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One of the crucial differences between guilt and remorse is that while guilt can lead to self destructive tendencies, remorse usually materializes constructive action.
Guilt is a useless emotion that reinforces self punishment or sabotage and often leads to shame. Please visit http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html to listen to a great talk on shame.
Top 6 things we all feel guilt over:
1.Balancing life by doing things for ourselves
2.Relaxing and doing nothing
3.Spending too much money
4.Breaking resolution to exercise and eat healthy
5.Not taking better care of others (children, parents, spouse, etc.)
6.Receiving praise we feel is undeserved
We can all relate to one of the items listed above now let’s begin eliminating guilt.
– Begin examining what is causing guilt and re-frame the emotion as remorse. Remorse comes from a sense of awareness and taking full responsibility for ones actions.
– Once awareness is achieved decide if your action deserves scrutiny or was it justified and acceptable. If acceptable, as in the case of skipping the gym, then use the process of visualization and let go of the negative emotion. If upon review you believe that a different course was in order then make a mental note of it for the future.
It seems easy but because we have been raised with guilt and then accepted it as a fitting emotion we struggle with releasing guilt from our lives. We use guilt to avoid people being mad at us or letting someone down. We erroneously believe “if I feel guilty and demonstrate my shame, then the other person will not be so upset or disappointed”. In reality taking this weaker stance does the opposite in the long run. What our partner, boss, children really want to hear is us take ownership of a situation and resolve to have a different outcome.
Next time you catch yourself feeling guilty try to take a new fresh approach and feel remorse. Since definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different result – try something new.