Guilt is a feeling of shame and regret experienced when you feel bad about something. Feeling guilty can be helpful if it leads to changing negative behaviors, but it can also be destructive if guilty feelings linger or occur about things you do not have control over.
This relaxation is to stop feeling guilty and to take positive action for the future.
Start by getting comfortable in a quiet place where you can relax.
Breathe…slowly drawing air in and out of your lungs…
I will count now from one to five. Feel yourself becoming more deeply relaxed with each number, until at five you are in a state of deep relaxation.
One…letting go of tension…feeling your muscles going limp…
Two…your eyelids are heavy…
Four…sinking into a pleasant feeling of relaxation…
Five…feeling more and more deeply relaxed…
Now that you are starting to become relaxed….think about the things that you feel guilty about right now.
There may be situations or actions that you may be feeling guilty toward, for example:
Maybe you are feeling guilty because you treated someone in a way that you regret.
Perhaps you are feeling guilty because you violated your own moral code.
Maybe you are feeling guilty because you made a mistake that you wish you had not made.
Maybe you are feeling guilty because a loved one had an illness or accident you think you should have prevented.
Perhaps you are feeling guilty because you have children who make mistakes, get poor grades, or behave badly, and you feel like you are a bad parent or are not doing enough.
Maybe you are feeling guilty because you look at situations where you were not assertive or did not stand up for yourself, and wish you had been stronger.
Perhaps you are feeling guilty because you watch the news and start feeling upset about the bad things that happen in the world, and take the guilt on personally.
Maybe you are feeling guilty that you are not able to save people such as self-destructive friends or family members, or people with addictions or illnesses.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks like cleaning or laundry, and feel guilty when you are not doing these things.
Maybe you feel guilty about something else. Think about the situations, actions, things, or people you feel guilty about right now.
Notice how you are feeling as you think about guilt. Where in your body do you physically feel the feelings associated with guilt? What does guilt feel like?
Now think about the thing that you identified that you feel guilty about. Is it something that was within your control at the time?
If this thing was in your control, think about the factors that lead you to behave the way you did. Was there a good reason for your behavior? How does your behavior in the situation fit with your own personal sense of right and wrong?
Do you feel guilt because you behaved in a way that you believe is wrong? If you were in the same situation again, how would you handle it?
Since you cannot change the past, think about what your guilt is telling you for the present and the future. What can you do right now, today, that is right? Is there any way to correct the situation or make it right?
Not all past mistakes can be corrected. It is okay to feel regret, but consider…is your guilt helping you in some way? Have you learned anything from past mistakes?
The fact that you felt guilt about mistakes shows that you are a good person, who wants to learn from mistakes. Maybe you have felt guilty for long enough. Maybe you have punished yourself enough.
If you have decided that it is time to let this guilt go, you can do so. Let’s talk about how in a moment.
First, consider…is the thing you felt guilty about something that was out of your control? Think about all the factors that were not in your control…other people’s choices, others’ behavior, random events, accidents, or illnesses…there are many factors that you are not able to control.
Often looking back, you may wish you handled situations differently because of what you know now, that you did not know at the time. You cannot predict the future. Looking back at situations, it is normal to see things that you would have done differently, but at the time you had no way of knowing.
It is normal to feel bad when others suffer. Is there anything you can do to help? Guilt is looking back on the past and thinking about things you should have done. A more healthy perspective is to look at the present, and see if there are things you can do now.
For example, if you feel guilty because a family member became ill, rather than looking at the past and telling yourself you should have done things differently, look at the present. Think about things you can do right now to help the family member be more comfortable. Remember that the illness is not your fault.
Now let’s look at how to get rid of feelings of guilt.
If you have decided that you want to stop feeling guilty, you can change the feelings of guilt.
Begin by acknowledging the truth behind the guilt. Did you make mistakes? Did you do something wrong? Do you simply feel bad about a situation that was not your fault? Acknowledge these feelings. Admit these feelings to yourself, without telling yourself that something was all your fault.
For example, “I regret handling that situation the way I did. I feel bad about the way I behaved because I do not want to act like that.”
Or, “I’m sad that my friend is sick.”
Once you have acknowledged these feelings, decide what you need to do in the present to handle the situation in the best way you know how.
For example, “I will practice being assertive.”
“I am going to apologize for my behavior.”
“I will make things a bit easier for my sick friend by mowing his lawn and doing his laundry today.”
“I cannot control others’ behavior, so I’m going to accept that they can make their own choices.”
Think about what you need to do right now, and what you need to do in the future, in order to feel as good as possible about your actions. Allow past feelings of guilt to prompt you to make changes.
Allow yourself to not feel guilty anymore.
You can use affirmations to help you move on and to cope with feelings of guilt. You can simply listen to the affirmations if you like, or repeat each one. Accept each affirmation as being true for you, right now in the present.
I do not need to feel guilty anymore.
I feel bad about some situations.
It’s okay to have negative feelings.
I do not need to blame myself.
Some things are partly my fault, and I choose to change my behavior now because I learn from my mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes.
It’s okay that I have done things wrong.
I cannot control 100 percent of situations.
I cannot control what other people choose to do.
Others are responsible for their own behavior.
Not everything is my fault.
I have let go of guilt from the past.
I do not need to feel guilty anymore.
I have felt guilty for long enough.
I learn from my experiences, and I feel good about the behavior I’m choosing now.
I can feel bad about situations while accepting that they are not my fault.
I deserve time to relax.
I do not need to be busy all the time.
I do not need to get everything done right away.
I am a good person.
I release myself from feelings of guilt.
You have completed the affirmations now.
Take a few moments to imagine the feeling of guilt…imagine it is like a weight sitting on your stomach.
Imagine that the weight is dissolving into bubbles, fizzing away and rising into the air. Each breath you take dissolves the weight a little more. Feel the weight getting lighter…lighter…lifting…releasing.
Allow the weight to be released…breathe deeply, sinking each breath all the way to your stomach where the breath dissolves the weight that was there. When you exhale, feel the weight leaving…decreasing as you breathe out.
Breathe away the guilt…allowing it to lift…to dissolve….
Release the guilt…no longer holding onto this feeling…releasing the guilt…releasing yourself…allowing yourself to be free.
Keep breathing slowly and deeply until you feel the last bit of guilt melt away. Allow a feeling of lightness…of freedom…to fill you…
Keep this feeling of freedom…hold onto the peace and serenity you feel.
I will now count from five to one. You may choose to become fully awake, or to drift off to sleep, reaching the state of your choosing when I reach one.