I screwed up yesterday.  I let myself get upset about something and it spilled over to the person I was upset with.  Really not like me.  I’d like to pawn it off on being tired, being frustrated, needing a vacation … but I have no excuse for my conduct.  And, I feel bad about it.  In fact, I’ve got Jewish/Italian guilt about it (and that’s a deadly combination!).

Guilt is hard to describe.  Its a feeling, right?  A feeling that I should have done something, should be doing something, should not have done something.

Actually, “guilt” comes from an Old English word that meant “delinquency.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “feelings of culpability, especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy; self-reproach.” It’s a revealing definition because nowhere does it say that guilt is related to things you actually did wrong.

Life is imperfect and rather than walking around feeling that heavy sense of guilt, that constant ruminating about the woulda, coulda, shoulda – we’ve got to find ways to shed those feelings:

1. Forgive yourself.  When those feelings of guilt haunt you, remember that it’s just self-inflicted pain.  If you’ve apologized or tried to right the wrong, then it’s time to let go.

2. Find out what your guilt is about.  Mine was that I lost it when I really had mixed feelings about a situation.  So, by understanding where my feelings come, it helps in trying to avoid the same situation.

3. When you feel guilt, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were wrong.   Maybe you were pushed really hard and then you felt guilty about your reaction.  It’s not always your fault.  It’s not always my fault.

4. Stop thinking about the things you can’t change.  I ask a lot of “what if?” questions.  But that means I’m not focusing on the present.  I can’t change the past and I don’t have a freaking idea about the future. End of story.

5. End the blame game.  It’s a complex world.  Relationships are complex.  They can be joyful.  And, they can be painful.  Take a more forgiving approach to the world and recognize that sometimes things just happen on their own momentum, as a result of a waterfall of events that cannot be blamed on any one person.

6.  Like yourself.  Guilt becomes less of an issue when we are happy and secure in who we are. Make a list about what you like about yourself.  Look at it whenever you’re feeling guilty about what you should or should not have done.

7. We can only do our best.  Nothing more.  I need to work on remembering this one.

Sometimes I make mistakes.  Yesterday was one of them.  These are the beautiful and sensitive parts about us.  We are imperfect.  And, it’s ok to admit it, let go and move on.

Have an amazing weekend!