Overcome by anxiety- feeling guilty and full of regret
Regret, Guilt, and Shame
I don’t think that it comes as any surprise that these things seem to come up in every session that I have. Culturally, we seem to be very prone to self-blame and dwell on the things that we’ve done wrong- especially when those past choices are making our present reality uncomfortable. This is the very foundation of our cycles of negative thinking, as dwelling in negative emotions, focusing on the negative, and fixating on the things we don’t want in our lives (either presently or as a past event- your subconscious mind has no sense of time!) will only accelerate our misery. This is the very cycle I love to help people break- let’s unpack how.
Regret. This one has a tough-guy stigma attached to it. Do you regret getting into the profession you find yourself in? Not making a phone call or going on a trip? If you’ve bought into the cultural pressure, you’ll say absolutely not! I regret nothing! My experiences have made me who I am! And while that is all true- do you really believe it? Or are you just saying it because that is the ‘right’ thing to say? I provided this canned response for years while deep down I deeply regretted many choices that I had made. Sure I had a level of gratitude for who I had become, but the dots didn’t connect and I was making claims that were outside my truth, and thus I was not living in integrity.
Regret Needs to be Replaced
The key to this piece- from a subconscious standpoint- seems to be that that deep regret needs to be replaced with something else. Suitable options (depending on where you are and what you regret) are trust, faith, and hope. Do you trust in the Divine path you are walking? Do you deeply believe each experience is helping you learn and gain the knowledge needed to get you to where you need to go? And do you maintain a level of hope for your future?
Dan Pink, a researcher that has written a book (The Power of Regret) on regret after loads of research drew the following conclusion: “Over time, people regret what they didn’t do more than what they did do. Regrets of inaction are far more common than regrets of action.”
This brings to mind another angle for reducing regrets, but it won’t make us feel better about our missed opportunities. We would have to incorporate these new beliefs proactively. Are you courageous enough to do the things that are most important to you? Do you live in alignment with your authenticity? If not, you will regret declined opportunities if you don’t start aligning your subconscious mind with this new conscious understanding.
The Inextricable Connection Between Guilt and Shame
You can’t talk about guilt and shame without talking about Brene Brown and the amazing work she has done in breaking down the barriers of understanding around these complex emotions. Guilt is when you feel bad about something you have done. Shame is when you internalize that guilt and start to feel bad about who you are. Guilt exists in the open. Shame hides deep within each of us and leads to utter misery and self-loathing. The first step to break free of shame is to admit what you are feeling to a safe person. Bring it out into the open so you can unpack that whatever it is that you have done does not make you a bad person. At the very minimum own the event, cling to a healthy guilt or regret around having made whatever choice it is you made, but you must know that it does not define you. Release the shame, and begin to heal.
How do we Reduce Feelings of Regret and Guilt
The answer for this question will vary depending on each person and what it is they feel guilty about.
Are you feeling guilty about how someone else is perceiving you and the efforts you are making? We’ll need to address fear of judgment and codependency tendencies.
Are you feeling guilty that you don’t prioritize the important people in your life? We’ll need to look into what is preventing you from making that happen and build up your sense of self-trust.
Are you feeling guilty because you feel like whatever you do isn’t enough? You feel like aren’t a good enough partner, mother, or father? We will need to work on strengthening your own self-concept.
While I used to come from a place of “NO REGRETS!!” because I wanted to live a life free from regret and guilt- saying it did not make it so. In fact, that began to make me feel ashamed that I was deeply regretting choices I had made and things I had done without owning the reasons (or lessons) behind those regrets. I was living in shame trying to buy into the tough-guy culture.
I have learned to accept my path, including the choices that didn’t give me the results I wanted. Within those choices lie the lessons that will help me to further develop my needs and understanding in this life. I now find gratitude for those lessons and have built my self-trust and self-concept up enough so that I can implement the things I’ve learned and begin to show up more authentically and courageously. I would like to reduce the regret for not doing the things I wanted to do that so often comes near the end of life.
If this is something that you have struggled with and you are looking for ways to reduce the burden of regret and guilt in your life, I am glad you are reading this and exploring options to help you overcome. I cannot recommend PSYCH-K enough for reprogramming the beliefs that continue to bring you to this place. There could be a workshop or facilitator near you, or if you’d like to work with me, head on over to my main site to book a discovery call or jump right in with a 50-minute transformation session.
The change you will experience will not be something that you EVER regret!