What To Do When You're Feeling Guilty

Feeling Guilty
Guilt is an emotion I experience very frequently. I’m not entirely sure what started it, or even when it started, but things that other people seem to shrug off send me into a terrible spin of self-condemnation, and it’s not fun.

Since I don’t want to spend my twenties in a spiral of self-hate for something as silly as going home from work early with a migraine, I thought I’d better get a handle on it. So, if you too struggle with those niggly feelings of having done something wrong, let me provide some help and understanding.

Have You Actually Done Something Wrong?

Don’t just answer this with an immediate, unthinking yes. There are two types of guilt in this world: productive and unproductive guilt. Productive guilt usually arises out of a clear situation where an action was obviously problematic or hurtful. Unproductive guilt is a whole different ball game. It can strike for no reason, or the justification is less reasonable. I, for example, often feel guilty when I take a day off sick even if I can’t stop throwing up and clearly am in no fit state to do anything. 

What Can You Do About It?

If you have actually done something wrong and hurt someone, the best thing to do is to try and resolve it. I’ve found from experience that apologising goes a long way towards recovery; as my mother always likes to say ‘it’s not what you’ve done but what you do next’. However if you get the sense that it’s unproductive guilt then that’s reconciliation on a personal level. Are you feeling genuine guilt about something different that is coming out in this manner? Or is it actually ridiculous? I try to think about how I would expect a close friend to feel in my situation. If I’d tell them to stop being silly and get over it then chances are I need to take my own advice!

Can You Feel Better?

Yes. Remember if you have done something wrong it takes a lot of courage to stand up and admit that. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Doing one bad thing does not make you a bad person. Guilt goes away with time and it is working through those bad feelings that allows us to learn from what went wrong. If you would think someone shouldn't feel guilty in your situation, then remember you have more power over your thinking than you may believe. Challenge yourself, tell yourself that what you're doing and how you're living is okay. No one deserves to live in a sea of negativity, so it's time to take control. 

As you can see, not all guilt is bad but living constantly in guilt is. So take some time to work through those feelings, and emerge stronger. 

What do you do when you feel guilty?


  1. I totally relate to feeling guilty when I have time off work if I'm sick. I don't even know why.
    Tegan xx - Permanent Procrastination

    1. Thanks for commenting Tegan, I'm glad you felt like you could relate but you definitely shouldn't feel guilty about looking after yourself when you're sick :) xx


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