By the time we’ve reached middle age, we have felt our share of guilt over the years. Guilt over choosing to work instead of be home with our children. Guilt over choosing to stay home instead of advancing our careers. Guilt for not volunteering enough at the school. Guilt over spending too much money on frivolous items. Guilt over not saving enough money for retirement. Guilt over not spending enough time with our parents.
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So, what exactly is guilt? Guilt is an emotional experience that happens when someone believes (whether it is true or not) they have lowered their measure or breached a moral standard, and feel responsible for it.
Guilt can hold us back from accomplishing what we desire out of life, or it can be a positive motivating factor to work towards our goals. It may take the joy out of whatever you are doing, or it may push you harder to reach an end goal.
Find Your Guilt
It’s important to figure out what has you feeling guilty, in order to learn how it is holding you back. You need to take some time to reflect. Remove yourself from the noise of the day and find a quiet spot to think about the goal you’d like to accomplish. What parts makes you uncomfortable? What parts cause doubts to set in?
Begin writing down your thoughts. Seeing it on a piece of paper or in a journal will help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, and allow you to analyze them. This will be a continuing process through your journey to reach your desired life goal. New feelings of guilt may develop along the way, but by reflecting and keeping a journal you can recognize them easily.
Now that you’ve recognized your guilt, it’s time to work toward forgiveness and self-acceptance. In order to begin the process to success, you have to love yourself. We’ve all heard this before, but what does it actually mean? It means to have self-respect, a positive self-image, and unconditional self-acceptance.
We are all human and have made plenty of mistakes. We learn from them by forgiving ourselves. Look at all you have done so far to get closer to your goal. Now look at what you haven’t done. Embrace what you’ve already accomplished and acknowledge what you have yet to accomplish. Forgive yourself for it. Don’t let failures keep you from your end goal. Don’t condemn yourself, instead try to see things in a positive light.
Start with taking baby steps. Examine something you have done today that you aren’t satisfied with. Forgive yourself for it. Now build off that positive energy. Try it again and see if you achieved better results. Amazing things will start to happen when you love and forgive yourself.
Commit to Goals
We tend to get intimidated when we look at the big goals we’ve set for ourselves. We put them off if they are too daunting, simply because we don’t know where to begin.
The best way to begin is with small steps. Once you’ve started, even in the smallest way, you’ve crossed the first daunting hurdle and can start to build momentum.
Guilt Can Be Sneaky
At the beginning, guilt prevented you from achieving your goal. Now that you’re on your way to that desired end goal, be prepared for that pesky guilt trip to creep back in. Negative thoughts are bound to pop back in your head once the initial excitement of your progress starts to die down.
If you anticipate guilt coming back, it’s easier to prevent now to stop it from halting your progress. Look back on your journal notes and remember why you overcame the guilt in the first place. Remind yourself of the positive impact your changes have made on your life, and keep moving forward.
The key to success in any area of your life is confidence. Confidence is like a secret weapon that keeps doubt and guilt away. It’s like having your own super power!
Taking your baby steps, and making progress while doing it, is an invigorating confidence booster. Another big confidence booster is to set and reach milestones along your journey. When you reach these milestones, celebrate your success. You’ve earned it.
You can overcome the guilt that is holding you back from reaching your life goals. With one step at a time, you’ll keep working toward achieving the life you’ve always wanted.
To learn more about overcoming guilt, here is a book I have read on it and I highly recommend.
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