Here's How You Can Learn to Handle Guilt to Have a Better Life

"My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted." ― Franz Kafka

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By Manoj Surya • Nov 13, 2018


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Every once in a while we would have felt guilty of something. If you look back, you will realize that it has happened because you know something right that can be done but isn't done by you and totally feeling it's your fault, or at least you think so.

We know guilt is a bad emotion. Did you wonder why do our brain sticks with it?. Well, according to neuroscience guilt triggers the reward centre in the brain. It sounds weird, I know. Guilt can happen because of you knowingly doing something which is wrong according to you, doing something that you don't know is wrong but find about it in future or getting influenced by others without your fault or actions.

Here are a few examples of how guilt looks: For a salesman or someone managing a project, despite working hard, not delivering the project on time can make them feel guilty because they aren't achieving the numbers. Sometimes you do things without knowing but you may realize that it happened because you did a mistake, though unknowingly. Shouting at someone without knowing the actual reason but later learning the truth can make you feel guilty. Few times you might be doing better than your surrounded people, you may have felt guilty that you are doing better than them though you had the same journey in the past.

Guilt is a powerful emotion. It can drive you to have a moral check of your principles. At the same time, it must be a True guilt where you can learn, forgive yourself and move on. False guilt is something you realize in the future you have done wrong without knowing or circumstances making you feel guilty without you doing anything, here it is not your fault.

So if you are hitting your sales numbers or missing your deadlines, do see where it is going wrong and fix it. If you shouted at someone without knowing the reason, apologize to them, learn to move on. In either case, you need to take responsibility. But if you are feeling guilty because of others influence or circumstances, know that you can do nothing there and be okay with it, we all have different journeys and comparison at a given snapshot in life loses the essence of the individual bigger picture.

I was reading a thread in Reddit about stoic philosophy and guilt. It said

"The impossible is never mandatory, the inevitable, never forbidden. Changing the past is impossible. Remind yourself of this."

It's beautiful to remind yourself that you can't change the past. Remember we are all human and we aren't perfect. What you can do is forgive yourself from your past mistakes, fix things that you could and move on with your life. And when things are not your fault, learn to accept the way things are.

Next time even if it is as small as you cheating on your diet or not able to hit the deadlines, forgive yourself, Identify the trigger, learn from it and see it won't happen again. Whatever it is, good luck having a more peaceful life.

Manoj Surya

Co-founder, TruePush

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