Recognize Your Mistakes: 3 Easy Steps To Ridding Yourself Of Guilt

by Alice Walker

Ladies, it’s time to talk about guilt. Yep, that creeping, nagging, sinking feeling that creeps into our stomachs and sets up shop. There are millions of different triggers out there that ignite feelings of guilt and shame and almost all of them can cause a good old-fashioned downward spiral.

A guilt spiral is an all-too-common phenomenon that can happen when a seemingly innocuous event causes a chain reaction, guilt explosion that derails your whole day. I’ll walk you through it:

Say you are checking your emails and see a LivingSocial deal for $10 off at a trendy new Pilates studio. You consider how it's been months since you've been to the gym and you had doughnuts for breakfast once or twice (fine, four times) last month.

Plus, Becky’s wedding is coming up and you’re panicking because you don’t want to be the chubby girl at the dance.

Goodbye, productive morning. Hello, stress shopping.

Luckily, there are a few things we can do to cut the guilt, skip the drama and carry on with our fabulous lives. Follow these three easy steps to kiss the guilt goodbye:

Step One: Call It Like It Is

If you are feeling guilty about anything from eating a muffin to ignoring your mother-in-law's call or being rude to a coworker, the worst way to handle it is to pretend your feelings don't exist.

When you feel guilty, name it. Calling something by name takes away its power and puts you firmly in control of your emotions. Categorize it in your head so it is not just this floating weight of tension settling in your stomach.

Once you accept what you are feeling, you are on the fast track to feeling better.

Step Two: Categorize Away

Next, take it a step further. Think about what is making you feel guilty and put it into one of two boxes:


Is there something you can do about how you feel? Do you really feel you did something wrong or have something you need to set right? If the answer is yes, then great! That goes in the actionable category.

If you feel badly about snapping at a coworker, you can make a point to apologize or bring him or her coffee tomorrow. If you are ready to get your body into fighting shape, forgive yourself for all the delicious carbs you ate and sign up for a boot camp. Love yourself and make a plan.

Let It Go

So often, we beat ourselves up over things that don’t matter and that we can’t change. If you have no control over something or realize you did nothing wrong, then it is time to make like Taylor Swift and shake it off.

Maybe you ate something that goes against your diet or maybe you splurged and broke your budget. Whatever it is, at the end of the day, it is okay and it is time to forgive yourself.

Step Three: Breathe Through And Move On

Finally, determine if the things about which you feel bad are actually serving you or not. If watching TV is how you relax and unwind, then watching TV for a few hours on the weekend could be good for you. Don’t waste your time and energy feeling lazy, unproductive or bad about yourself.

Never apologize for doing something you love or something that brings you happiness.

And remember to be careful how you talk to yourself. Stop calling it "lazy time" and start calling it "recharging time" or "personal self-care and stories time."

Often, it’s our own negative self-talk that keeps us feeling crappy and in the guilt shame spiral. Find the positive; let go of the pointless guilt, and thrive in your life.