Dealing with guilt in an imperfect you: How to repair and rebuild

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Do you sometimes hate yourself for mistakes you’ve made, and find it difficult to cope when dealing with guilt?

Are there times that you feel consumed by guilt because of mistakes you’ve made?

Do you feel that your actions have hurt others but you don’t know how to start repairing the damage?

You are not alone!

All humans live with imperfection but it’s hard to accept

There is no way to live a perfect life and no matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes. We are all imperfect parents, friends, employees/employers, family members and so on.

Theoretically you totally understand that “to err is human” (as famously stated by Alexander Pope), but you may find it very hard to live with some of your mistakes.

Guilt in itself is unhelpful

Carrying guilt as a self-inflicted punishment is unhelpful to the extreme! Firstly, a guilty you is definitely not the best you that you can be. Secondly, a guilty you may in fact be even more likely to cause harm to others. 

When you carry a lot of guilt you become negatively introspective, your mood is irritable and you are less authentic in your interactions with others. Excessive guilt can even cause physical illness. 

You need to accept that you’re imperfect 

Living with your imperfections involves developing a basic level of self-awareness and dealing with your guilt in a constructive way. When you feel guilty, you need to ‘check in’ to your own value system and work out if you should in fact feel bad about something you have done. Or haven’t done…

Using your value systems to judge your own behaviour is really helpful, because your values are like your guiding light

Blue-footed Booby Success Formula: Dealing with guilt by repairing and rebuilding

When you accept that you have acted out of congruence with your own values, you need to take some kind of action to repair the mistake. 

  1. Acknowledge your mistake (even if only to yourself).
  2. Do something to repair the damage caused. For example, apologise to the person if you have treated them unfairly. Replace the thing that you broke even if it was an accident. Donate money to a related cause if you can’t directly repair the harm.
  3. Consciously let go of the guilt, move forward and live your life the best you can. 

Trying your very best to fix the harm that you have caused teaches you a lesson, goes a long way towards repairing damage done in a relationship, and enables you to move on. 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anna

    Wonderful uplifting and practical article!

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