Dealing with remorse

10 Tips for Dealing with Guilt I Psych Central

Overcoming guilt is possible, even if it’s been lingering for a while.

Guilt is a sense of regret or responsibility for thoughts, words, or actions. It can happen when you perceive you’ve harmed someone, think you’ve made a mistake, or have gone against your personal moral code of conduct.

Feeling guilty can be a positive emotion in some cases and may even help you learn from your mistakes.

But you can also feel guilty for situations that you believe were your fault or even incidents that were not your fault at all. People can also use guilt-provoking tactics to manipulate someone into doing things they’d rather not do.

Whether it’s misplaced guilt, appropriate guilt, or guilt brought on by others, there are effective ways to deal with and overcome it — even if you’ve carried it for a while.

A 2018 study suggests that guilt is a learned social emotion that may play a role in successful interaction and cooperation within a group.

When guilt is present, it could be a sign telling you to look closer at specific situations or behaviors. It can also help guide you in repairing any perceived wrongdoings.

Guilt can also arise from assumed and not actual responsibility for an event or situation.

Toxic guilt is a type of guilt that no longer motivates you to make positive changes.

A 2018 study suggests that guilt can expand past the guilt-inducing incident and become generalized to the whole self. This means that you may end up feeling bad about yourself instead of just feeling remorseful for your behavior.

In addition, toxic guilt can result from not knowing how to effectively manage guilty feelings and from guilt other people may place on you.

If you often find yourself allowing guilt to guide your choices or behaviors, you may be experiencing toxic guilt.

Guilt can feel heavy and difficult to offload. Determining where it’s coming from can also be a challenge.

Still, it is possible to move past guilty feelings no matter how long they’ve lingered.

Learning to manage guilt starts with identifying its source. Some questions you can ask yourself to help understand the root of your guilt include:

  • What happened to cause this guilty feeling?
  • What specific aspect of this do I feel guilty about?
  • Did I really do something wrong, or am I just perceiving I did something wrong?
  • Is someone else making me feel guilty?
  • Is it in my control to fix the situation?
  • Could fixing the situation help?

The answers to these questions may help you understand where the guilt is coming from and the best way to manage it.

But keep in mind that guilt can also be associated with mental health conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

If you have difficulty managing guilt, it might be helpful to talk with a mental health professional about your concerns.

Once you understand why you may be feeling guilt, the next step is to figure out how to manage it. Consider trying some of these strategies.

Acknowledge it exists

Sometimes guilt can remain hidden underneath other symptoms such as anxiety or sleeplessness. This can make it challenging to determine what’s really bothering you.

Identifying whether guilt is the root cause of these challenges can clarify the situation and help you figure out the next steps you need to take.

Eliminate negative self-talk

Though guilt can initiate positive action, it can also cause you to associate your behavior with who you are as a person. This can lead to inaccurate self-assessment and negative self-talk such as “I’m a bad person.”

Try to remember that although the behavior may have been less than ideal, it doesn’t define who you are.

Find out if there’s a reason to feel guilty

Guilt can at times be unwarranted because the person involved has moved on from the incident or has already forgiven you.

So, think about asking the person how they really feel. You might be surprised to find out that you’ve been carrying guilt for no reason.

Remind yourself of all that you do

When feeling guilty, you might have trouble remembering all the positive things you do. Consider making a list of all the acts of kindness you bestow onto others.

You may find that the number of positive actions on the list far outweigh any perceived transgressions.

Realize it’s OK to have needs

Guilt is often rooted in worries that you’re selfish with your time, money, or energy. However, it’s helpful to remember that no one can be everything to everybody all the time.

You also have needs, and they’re equally as valid as the needs of others.

Establish boundaries

Guilt can result from unclear boundaries. For example, you may feel guilty when trying to communicate your needs to others, or you may feel pangs of guilt when you don’t do what others ask.

Establishing healthy boundaries involves making your expectations clear. It establishes what behaviors you will accept from others and what behaviors others can expect from you.

Having these boundaries in place can help prevent guilt when dealing with others.

Make amends

Sometimes, the presence of guilt may indicate the need to apologize for your behavior — a call to action, so to speak. Once these amendments are made, remorseful feelings often seem to fade away.

If you can no longer make amends to someone, maybe because they’ve passed away, you can try journaling or writing a letter to say what you couldn’t say at the time.

You can then discard it in some way — such as ripping it up or burning it — afterward as an act of closure.

Understand what you can control

It might be beneficial to examine the source of the guilt and determine what aspects you can manage.

For example, suppose you feel responsible for something that happened years ago. It might be more helpful at this point to focus on determining what you can do now to help the situation.

If nothing can change the situation, bear in mind that holding onto guilt won’t likely deliver the change you’re looking for. Try to have some compassion for yourself.

Remember that some things are unchangeable, and that’s OK!

Address any mental health challenges

If mental health conditions or past trauma are playing a role in your guilt, it might be a good idea to talk with a mental health professional.

They can work with you to identify areas you may need help with and offer strategies to manage your guilty feelings.

Acknowledge that perfection doesn’t exist

If you hold yourself to a high standard, and even the slightest infraction leaves you riddled with guilt, it might be beneficial to remind yourself that no one is perfect.

We all make mistakes.

Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It simply means that you’re learning and growing as you navigate through this thing called life — just like everyone else.

Getting rid of guilt may require self-reflection to identify where the remorse is coming from and why you’re feeling it. It also involves determining if you’re experiencing misplaced guilt, toxic guilt, or actual regret for something you’ve done.

Whether your guilt is justified or based on imagined responsibility, remember that you’re human, and we all make mistakes.

Try to acknowledge your feelings, make amends if necessary, and then forgive yourself. If you need help letting go of persistent guilty feelings, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

Not sure where to start? You can check out Psych Central’s hub for finding mental health support.

8 Tips to Overcoming Remorse

Endlessly revisiting what happened in the past, beating yourself up for the bad things that you’ve done won’t change anything. It certainly won’t make the events or actions go away. Yet the pattern of wallowing in remorse, guilt, shame and self-loathing doesn’t have to continue. Here are some tips on overcoming remorse that may help.

1. Work on becoming healthier.

Flooded with toxic thoughts and emotions takes a toll on your body. Before you can begin to heal from the effects of remorse, you need to take action to restore your health. If you used drugs and alcohol as a crutch to deal with the pain, these also contributed to your current poor physical and mental state.

If you sincerely desire to make positive changes, the first step is to detoxify your body. Go into drug rehab if the need is severe and you can’t do it on your own. Otherwise, make it a point to eat nutritious foods, get sufficient sleep, hydrate often with water, and engage in regular vigorous physical exercise. It may take a few weeks or longer to get back to health, but a healthier body will greatly improve your ability to get past remorse.

2. Develop new habits.

Analyze how you’ve spent your days with a particular emphasis on what you’ve done to numb the ache of remorse. Facing up to the reality that you’ve used unhealthy coping mechanisms isn’t easy, but it is necessary in order to get to the point where you recognize that you need new and healthier habits to replace them. Part of this process may require training from a professional and include behavior modification, individual and group treatment, outpatient counseling and self-help groups and manuals.

3. Restore your spirit.

After being battered by long months of struggling with remorse, your spirit is likely at its lowest ebb. The unfortunate correlation of drug and alcohol abuse with engaging in illegal, unethical and immoral acts also contributes to tremendous guilt and shame.

Learning how to heal from the damaging effects of remorse is best accomplished with the help of a professional counselor or therapist. You need to learn not only that it’s fruitless to beat yourself up over the past, but also that you can choose a path toward spiritual renewal. In this, you don’t need to be religious. What is necessary is a realization that it’s absolutely vital to rebuild your spirit in order to cope with remorse.

4. Activate your sense of self-discovery.

Remorse doesn’t only sap your physical body. It also wreaks havoc on your emotional state. Instead of looking forward to daily activities and learning new things, you spend most of your time in a state of stagnation. There is no joy, no self-discovery, no excitement about much of anything. A trained therapist can help guide you in the process of rehabilitation and self-discovery.

5. Commit to a change in lifestyle.

To successfully cope with and overcome feelings of remorse, you’ll have to take into account the fact that certain people, places, times and events trigger those negative emotions. Most likely, you’ll need to find new friends, avoid the situations and locations that remind you of painful memories and fill you with remorse.

6. Join a group with similar goals.

If you’re in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, or compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping or another process addiction, or have a diagnosis of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse, a big part of your recovery will involve participation in recovery groups. This will continue long after your formal treatment program concludes.

But group participation is also highly recommended for anyone who’s working to overcome remorse. It doesn’t have to be a recovery group, however. Any group that shares similar goals or helps you pursue an activity or interest will benefit your desire to get past remorse.

7. Pay special attention to family.

Often it’s the people who know you the best and care for you most that can really jumpstart the healing process. They’re often also the ones you tend to shy away from, fearing criticism, negativity and dredging up the past. It’s important to make full use of your loved ones and family members, as they are instrumental in helping to affirm your commitment to living a healthier and happier life. Just because some issues and memories are painful doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile working through them with the help of your family.

8. Seek to embrace life.

Along with a concerted effort to work on becoming healthier, beginning new habits, replenishing your spirit, allowing yourself to discover what’s good and interesting to pursue, committing to lifestyle changes, joining groups with similar interests and being mindful of the importance of family, there’s one final tip that can help you move past remorse. In order to achieve a purposeful life, filled with opportunities and self-fulfillment, you must seek to embrace life.

After working on creating positive steps and taking the actions necessary to achieve them, life starts to look different. It’s no longer bleak and monotonous. Instead, life-affirming thoughts, dreams and plans will replace the self-destructive ones you’ve lived with so long. With a commitment and enthusiasm to embrace life, your path forward will lead you in directions you will find unexpected and delightful.

As for how long it will take to successfully overcome remorse, bear in mind that each day is another opportunity to make progress toward healthy change. Live in the present. Put forth your best effort in whatever you do. Surround yourself with people who are positive and share your values. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Above all, be grateful that you have this day to make all the choices you want.

Dealing with Guilt - Snob

In the new book Mood Therapy, published by Alpina Publisher, British professor of psychology and behavioral sciences, David Burns, talks about how to identify the first signs of depression, deal with feelings of guilt and how to understand yourself. "Snob" publishes one of the chapters of

Photo: Isai Ramos

No book on depression is complete without a chapter on guilt. What is the function of guilt? Writers, spiritual leaders, psychologists and philosophers have been trying to answer this question for centuries. What is guilt based on? Maybe it was the concept of "original sin" that gave rise to it? Or the Oedipal incest fantasies and other taboos that Freud talked about? Is guilt a realistic and useful component of the human experience? Or is it a "useless emotion" that humanity would be better off without, as some modern writers in the field of popular psychology suggest? nine0003

When computational mathematics was introduced, scientists found that they could now easily solve complex motion and acceleration problems that were extremely difficult to solve with the old methods. Cognitive theory has similarly given us a kind of emotional "calculus" tool that facilitates progress through the thorns of philosophical and psychological questions.

Let's see what can be learned from the cognitive approach. Guilt is the emotion you feel when you have the following thoughts:

  1. I did something that I shouldn't have done (or didn't do that I should have) that doesn't meet my moral standards or notions of justice.
  2. Such "bad behavior" shows that I am a bad person (or I have a tendency to do harm, I have a spoiled character, a rotten gut, etc.).

The idea of ​​one's own "badness" is the main cause of feelings of guilt. Without it, actions that cause harm lead to healthy feelings of remorse, but not guilt. Remorse arises from an adequate understanding that you intentionally and unreasonably harmed yourself or another person, which violates your personal ethical standards. Remorse is different from guilt because it does not mean that your wrongdoing shows how bad, evil, or immoral you are. In short, you feel remorse or regret about your behavior, while guilt is directed at your Self. nine0003

If, in addition to feelings of guilt, you feel depressed, ashamed, or anxious, you are probably following one of the following mental assumptions:

  1. My "bad behavior" makes me inferior or worthless (this interpretation leads to depression).
  2. If others knew what I did, they would begin to despise me (this thought causes a feeling of shame).
  3. I may be avenged, or I may be punished (this thought is disturbing).
  4. nine0015

    The easiest way to assess whether these feelings are beneficial or destructive is to determine whether they contain any of the ten cognitive distortions described in Chapter 3. If these thought errors are present, your guilt, anxiety, depression, or shame are certainly not justified. and unrealistic. I suspect you will find that many of your negative feelings are actually based on such thinking errors.

    The first distortion when you feel guilty may be that you did something wrong. Perhaps it is, but perhaps not. Is the behavior that you condemn in yourself really so terrible, immoral, wrong? Or are you exaggerating the scale of the problem? A charming medical laboratory assistant recently brought me a sealed envelope with a sheet of paper on which she wrote something so terrible about herself that she could not say it out loud. When she handed me the envelope with trembling hands, she made me promise not to read it aloud and not to laugh at her. Inside was a message: "I pick my nose and eat boogers!" The premonition of catastrophe and the horror on her face contrasted so strikingly with the trifle written on a piece of paper that I began to laugh. I lost all professional self-control and laughed. Luckily, she laughed heartily, too, and felt relieved. nine0003

    Am I saying that you never misbehave? No. Such a position would be highly unrealistic. I just want to emphasize that the more you exaggerate the scale of your mistakes, the greater will be the needless torment and self-criticism.

    The second key distortion that leads to guilt is the tendency to label yourself a "bad person" because of what you have done. It was this superstitious destructive thinking that led to witch hunts in the Middle Ages! You may have actually done something bad, spiteful, hurtful, but it's inappropriate to call yourself "bad" or "spoiled" because you'll end up wasting energy on worrying and self-blaming rather than creatively looking for the best problem-solving strategy. nine0003

    Another common guilt-producing distortion is personalization. You unreasonably take responsibility for something you didn't do. Let's say you offer constructive criticism to your boyfriend, who reacts defensively and offended. You may blame yourself for being upset and jump to the conclusion that your comment was inappropriate. In fact, it was his own negative thoughts that upset him, not your comment. Moreover, these thoughts are probably distorted. Perhaps he thought that your criticism implied that he was not good enough, and concluded that you did not respect him. nine0003

    And besides, did you put this illogical thought into his head? Obviously not. He did it himself, so you can't take responsibility for his reaction.

    Since cognitive therapy claims that it is thoughts that create feelings, you may come to the nihilistic conclusion that you cannot harm anyone no matter what you do, and therefore you have the right to do anything. After all, why not leave the family, cheat on your wife, or cheat on a business partner? If they're upset, it's their problem, it's their thoughts, right? nine0003

    No! Here we again emphasize the importance of the concept of "cognitive biases". As long as a person's feelings of frustration are caused by distorted thoughts, you can say that he himself is responsible for his suffering. If you blame yourself for this person's pain, it's a personalization error. Conversely, if a person's suffering is caused by valid, undistorted thoughts, then it is real and may indeed have an external cause. For example, if you hit me in the stomach, I will probably think, “You hit me! It hurts you!” In this case, you are responsible for my pain, and your opinion that you hurt me is in no way the result of a distorted perception. Your remorse and my discomfort are real and authentic. nine0003

    Inadequate demands with the word "should" is a direct path to guilt. Irrational demands on yourself mean that you should be perfect, omniscient or omnipotent. Such perfectionist “rules of life” harm you by creating impossible expectations and making you inflexible. One such example is "I should always be happy." And here is the corollary of this rule: every time you are upset, you feel like a failure. Since it is obvious that the goal of achieving eternal happiness is unrealistic for any person, such a rule only harms and replaces the real responsibility for oneself. nine0003

    Other inadequate "should" requirements are based on the premise that you know everything. They assume that you have all the knowledge in the universe and can predict the future with absolute accuracy. For example, you think, “I shouldn't have gone to the beach this weekend because I started to get the flu. What a fool I am! Now I'm so sick I'll have to lie in bed for a week." Such reproaches are unrealistic, because you did not know for sure that due to a trip to the beach, the condition would worsen so much. If you knew this, you would have acted differently. You are human and made that decision, later realizing that your guess was wrong. nine0003

    The third kind of "must" requirement is based on the premise that you are omnipotent. They assume that, like God, you have limitless possibilities, you can control yourself and other people and achieve whatever goal you want. You miss a tennis pitch and startle, exclaiming, "I shouldn't have missed that shot!" Why not? Is your tennis game so perfect that you can't miss a serve?

    It is clear that these three categories of demands with the word “must” create an inadequate sense of guilt, since they are not based on reasonable arguments. nine0003

    In addition to distortions, several other criteria can help distinguish abnormal guilt from healthy feelings of remorse or regret. It is the intensity, duration and consequences of your negative emotions. Let's apply them to assess the unbearable guilt of a married 52-year-old high school teacher named Janice. For many years, Janice was in severe depression. Her problem was that she was relentlessly tormented by the memories of two cases of shoplifting that happened when she was 15. Having led a completely honest life since then, she could not overcome the memory of those two incidents. She was haunted by guilt-creating thoughts: "I am a thief, a liar, a bad person, I am a fake. " The agony of her guilt was so intense that every night she prayed that God would let her die in her sleep. Every morning, waking up alive, she experienced bitter disappointment and said to herself: “I am such a bad person that even God does not want to take me away.” In desperation, she loaded her husband's gun, pointed it at her heart, and pulled the trigger. The weapon misfired. She didn't cock the trigger properly. Janice felt the final fiasco: she couldn't even kill herself! Throwing down the gun, she sobbed in despair. nine0003

    Janice's guilt is not justified not only because of the obvious distortions, but also because of the intensity, duration and consequences of what she felt and said to herself. Her feelings are nothing like healthy remorse or regret about shoplifting, it's an irresponsible destruction of her self-esteem that blinds her, does not allow her to live in the here and now, and does not correspond to any real transgression. The consequences of her guilt create the ultimate paradox: the belief that she is a bad person forced her to attempt suicide, the most destructive and senseless act in the world. nine0003

    The vicious cycle of guilt

    Even if you experience unhealthy guilt based on distortions, you can become trapped in the illusion that your guilt is justified as soon as you start to feel guilty. Such illusions can be very powerful and convincing. Here are your thoughts:

    1. I feel guilty and condemned. It means I'm really bad.
    2. Because I am bad, I deserve to suffer. nine0012

    Thus, guilt convinces you of your own worthlessness and leads to even greater feelings of guilt. This cognitive-emotional connection locks your thoughts and feelings into each other. You are caught in a vicious circle that I call the "vicious circle of guilt."

    This vicious cycle is fueled by emotional rationale (see the chapter on cognitive distortions). You automatically assume that because you feel guilty, you must have failed somewhere and therefore deserve to suffer. You probably think like this: "I'm bad, so I'm probably bad." This is irrational because your self-hatred does not necessarily prove that you did something wrong. Your guilt only reflects your opinion that you behaved badly. Perhaps this is true, but often this is far from the truth. For example, children are often punished for no reason when parents are tired, irritated, and misinterpret their behavior. Under these circumstances, the child's feelings of guilt obviously do not prove that he or she has done something so terrible. nine0003

    Self-flagellation only fuels the cycle of guilt. Guilty thoughts lead to unproductive actions that reinforce your belief that you are worthless. For example, a guilt-prone female neurologist was trying to study for her certification exam. It was difficult for her to study for the test, and she felt guilty that she did not study well. Therefore, she spent a lot of time every evening watching TV, and at this time the following thoughts were spinning in her head: “I should not watch TV. I have to prepare for the exam. I am lazy. I don't deserve to be a doctor. I'm too selfish. I deserve punishment." These thoughts made her feel great guilt. Then she reasoned like this: "This guilt only proves that I am a lazy, bad person." Her self-flagellation and guilt only fueled each other. nine0003

    Like many people who are prone to guilt, she held to the idea that if she punished herself enough, she would eventually be set free. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Guilt simply sapped her strength and reinforced her belief that she was lazy and inept. The only result of her self-hatred was obsessive nightly raids on the refrigerator, during which she gorged herself on ice cream or peanut butter.

    The vicious circle she got into is shown in figure 8.1. Her negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors combined to create a self-destructive, cruel illusion that she was "bad" and couldn't control herself. nine0003

    Guilt is irresponsible

    If you really did something inappropriate or harmful, does it follow that you deserve to suffer? If you feel the answer to this question is yes, ask yourself, “How long must I suffer? Day? Year? For the rest of your life?" What judgment would you choose to pass on yourself? Are you ready to end your own suffering and stop torturing yourself when your sentence is up? This would at least be a responsible form of time-limited punishment. But first, what is the point of torturing yourself with guilt? If you make a mistake and cause harm, your guilt will not magically undo the mistake. It will not speed up the learning process, nor will it make you less likely to do it again in the future. Other people won't love and respect you more because you feel guilty and put yourself down that way. Guilt will not lead to a productive life. So what's the point? nine0003

    Many people ask, "But how can I act morally and control my impulses if I don't feel guilty?" This is the prison guard's approach. Apparently, you think that you are so malicious and out of control that you must constantly punish yourself so as not to break loose. Of course, if your behavior hurts others, a small dose of agonizing remorse will help you realize the consequences of your actions than a neutral, non-emotional admission of wrongdoing. But without a doubt, it never helped anyone to consider themselves a bad person. Most often, the belief in one's own worthlessness only contributes to further "bad" behavior. nine0003

    Change and learning happen faster when you a) recognize that a mistake has occurred and b) develop a strategy to correct the problem. You will make the process much easier if you treat yourself with love and relax. And guilt will only get in the way.

    For example, I am sometimes criticized by patients for making a harsh comment that causes them to think in the wrong way. This criticism usually hurts me and makes me feel guilty only if there is some truth in it. If I feel guilty and call myself "bad," I tend to react defensively. I have a desire to deny the mistake, to justify it or to go on the counterattack, because it is disgusting to feel like a “bad person”. This makes it difficult to admit your mistake and correct it. If, on the contrary, I do not scold myself and do not feel that my self-esteem is hurt, it is easy for me to admit a mistake. Then I can easily fix the problem and learn something. The less guilt I feel, the more effectively I deal with the situation. nine0003

    Thus, if you make a mistake, you need to recognize it, learn from it and change the situation. Does guilt help here? I do not believe in this. Instead of helping to admit one's own mistake, guilt only obscures the tracks. You don't want to hear any criticism. You can't stand your own mistakes because they make you feel terrible. This is why guilt is unproductive.

    You might object, “How can I know if I did something wrong if I don't feel guilty? What if I start to indulge in blind excesses, uncontrollable, destructive selfishness, if I don’t feel guilty? nine0003

    Anything is possible, but I honestly doubt it. You can replace guilt with a more conscious basis of moral behavior - empathy. Empathy is the ability to visualize the consequences of your behavior, both good and bad. This is the ability to realize the impact of your actions on you and on other people, and to feel reasonable, sincere sadness and regret, without calling yourself bad in essence. Empathy creates the necessary mental and emotional climate to regulate behavior in a moral and self-learning way, without having to use the whip of guilt. nine0003

    Using the following criteria, you can easily determine whether your feelings are normal and healthy remorse or self-destructive, distorted guilt. Ask yourself:

    1. Did I do something “bad”, “unfair”, hurt knowingly and intentionally? Or am I unreasonably demanding of myself to be perfect, omniscient, or omnipotent?
    2. Do I call myself a bad or nasty person because of this? Do my thoughts also contain other cognitive distortions such as exaggeration, overgeneralization, etc.? nine0012
    3. Is my regret or repentance realistic? Does it stem from an empathic awareness of the negative consequences of my actions? Is the intensity and duration of my painful emotional reaction appropriate to the act?
    4. Am I ready to learn from my mistake? What am I doing for this? Do you think how to fix the current situation? Or whine, scrolling through the thoughts of what happened? Or maybe I am punishing myself unjustifiably?

    Now let's look at some methods that will help you get rid of misplaced guilt and build self-respect. nine0003

    1. Diary of recording automatic thoughts. In the previous chapters, you have been introduced to the Automatic Thought Journal, which helps you overcome low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. This method gracefully handles many unwanted emotions, including guilt. Write down the event that makes you feel guilty in the Situation column. For example, "I was rude to a colleague" or "Instead of putting in ten dollars, I threw the alumni fundraiser in the trash." Then "tune in" to the tyrant's voice in your head and write down the specific accusations that make you feel guilty. Finally, identify distortions and write down more objective thoughts. You will feel better. nine0003

    An example of such operation is shown in Table 8.1. Shirley was a sensitive young woman who decided to move to New York to start her career as an actress. After spending a long and exhausting day looking for an apartment, he and his mother took the train back to Philadelphia. Boarding the train, they discovered that no food was provided. Shirley's mother began to complain about the lack of service, and Shirley felt guilt and a wave of self-criticism engulf her. When she wrote down the guilt-producing thoughts and answered them, she experienced significant relief. She told me that by dealing with her guilt, she avoided the tantrum she usually threw in such unpleasant situations (see Table 8.1). nine0003

    2. Techniques for neutralizing demands on oneself. Here are some methods for neutralizing the irrational "should" demands you make on yourself. First, ask yourself, “Who said I should? Where is that written?" The point is for you to realize that you are not justified in criticizing yourself. Ultimately, you are the one who sets your own rules. As soon as you see that the rule does not benefit you, you have the right to revise or cancel it. Suppose you tell yourself that you must be able to make your spouse happy all the time. If you understand from experience that this is unrealistic and useless to even try, then you can rewrite this rule, bringing it closer to reality. For example: “I can sometimes make my spouse happy, but of course not all the time. Ultimately, his happiness depends on himself. And I am no more perfect or perfect than he is. Therefore, I will not expect constant gratitude for what I do. nine0003

    When deciding how useful a particular rule is, ask yourself: “What are the advantages and disadvantages of this rule?”, “How does the requirement to always keep my spouse happy helps me, and what is the price of such a belief?” You can evaluate the pros and cons of this internal rule using two columns, as shown in Table 8.2.

    Another simple but effective way to save yourself from excessive demands on yourself involves replacing the word “should” with others, also using the two-column technique. For this, the expressions "It would be nice if" or "If I could, I would ..." are well suited. They often turn out to be more realistic and not as frustrating. For example, instead of "I should make my wife happy," you could say, "It would be great if I could make my wife happy because she's upset. I can ask her what's upsetting her and think about how I might be able to help." Or instead of "I shouldn't have eaten ice cream," you could say, "It would have been better if I hadn't eaten that ice cream, but what I did is not the end of the world." nine0003

    And another method is to show yourself that your claim is not true. For example, when you say "I shouldn't have done this," you're assuming 1) that you really shouldn't have done it, and 2) it would help if you told yourself that. The Reality Method will reveal, to your surprise, that the exact opposite is true: a) you really should have done exactly what you did and b) it will hurt you if you tell yourself you shouldn't have done it. nine0003

    Translation: Anna Kogteva

    How to deal with jealousy, envy and learn to forgive?

    Alpina Publisher has published Jill Hasson's practical guide Developing Emotional Intelligence: Tips, Tips, Techniques. We publish an excerpt from it, which tells how to control yourself and deal with jealousy and envy.

    Regret and remorse

    The past is a great place and I don't want to erase it and regret it, but I wouldn't want to be a prisoner in it. nine0138

    Mick Jagger

    Regret creates thoughts that at some point in the past you made the “wrong” decision to do or not do something. You blame yourself, you feel lost and longing, regretting that you didn't make another choice.

    You may regret something you did or said; confessed to someone that you really think about him; went to this job, drank too much or ate a piece of the pie. But at the same time, you may also regret things you didn’t do or say: for example, you didn’t tell someone how you felt about them or how you felt, you didn’t do better in school, you didn’t take this job, or you didn’t break up. relationship with someone before. nine0003

    Regret is different from remorse. Remorse is regret from an act that could hurt or harm someone. For example, when we betrayed a friend or partner or yelled at a child.

    Is there a positive role for regret and remorse? Of course yes! They force us to make amends for our mistakes and learn from them in order to avoid them in the future.

    In Practice

    Never look back unless you are going in that direction. nine0138

    Henry David Thoreau

    Feel your emotion. When you feel regret or remorse, you need to be alone with them, acknowledge them and accept them, realizing that everything has already happened and nothing can be changed.

    Learn from what happened. To do this, you need to reflect on what happened, understand what went wrong, and decide what needs to be done differently in order to avoid similar disappointments in the future if possible. Try to learn from what happened. What new things have you learned about yourself? About other people? Instead of thinking “I should/shouldn’t”, try saying “I should have, but now I’m going to…”, “Next time I will…”, or “It might help if…”, or “ I can…” or “Now I’m going to…”. nine0003

    Look for a sense of perspective. If you regret something, remember in what situation you did or did not do something.

    You may not have foreseen the consequences; maybe you were pressured into making a quick decision; maybe there were some other obstacles or lack of support when you did something that you now regret.

    Be kind to yourself, remember that you did what you did, given what you knew at the time. Imagine what you would say to another person in this situation to cheer them up. nine0003

    Take responsibility. If you feel remorse, take responsibility and ask yourself if you could have done differently. Is there any nobler path you could take instead of plodding along this low road? Do you need to set some boundaries in the future and take responsibility for your actions?

    Determine what action you can take right now, and follow that plan. Maybe you need to talk to someone? Apologize? If for some reason you can’t apologize, for example, that person is no longer with you, write down your apologies on paper and imagine that you have been forgiven. Then move on. nine0003


    R Growing does not require forgetting some offensive action, does not require forgetting what happened, or making peace with the culprit. Forgiveness is an opportunity to release yourself from the obsessive thought about the pain that you have caused.

    Daniel Goleman, writer, psychologist, and journalist

    Small offenses, such as someone interrupting you, skipping the line, or dousing your carpet, are easy enough to forgive and forget. What if you're facing a more serious problem? Did your friend seriously let you down, your partner had an affair, were you unfairly fired from your job, or were you injured due to someone else's negligence? nine0003

    Is it then possible to forgive and forget? What's the point in forgiveness? And what does forgiveness really mean?

    Forgiveness is needed first of all by yourself, and not by another person. It means that you let go of feelings of resentment, defeat, or anger that the actions of another person caused you. It implies that you no longer want punishment, revenge, or compensation.

    Forgiveness does not mean that you give in to your offender, downplay his act, excuse and forget him - the other person is still responsible for his actions. He may not deserve forgiveness for the pain, sadness, and suffering he has brought you, but you deserve to be freed from negative feelings. nine0003

    In practice

    P Growing is, one might say, a selfish action that brings great benefits to the one who forgives.

    Lavana Blackwell, writer

    Remember that forgiveness is a process. It's not a switch that you turn and everything changes instantly. Even if you don't want to forgive right now, you can go for it. First, determine how you feel. Anger, disappointment, disappointment? Jealousy or resentment? Or all together? Even if you don't feel like thinking about it, allow yourself to feel these emotions and work with them. nine0003

    Don't think about why it happened. Understanding why someone did something can be very helpful, but often we don't even know why someone hurt us. You don't need to know why something happened in order to let it go.

    Write your abuser a letter that you can send or not send. Describe what you could not tell him about your reaction to his actions and how they affected you. When you finish writing, you may realize that you should not tell him all this. nine0003

    Decide if you want to give the other person a chance to fix things. If the situation allows and if the other person apologizes, decide if you want them to regain your trust. When a person admits that he has harmed you and tries to fix it in some way, it helps a lot to forgive him, although not always.

    Think positively. Think, for example, of a person who can help and support you during difficult times.

    Directing your thoughts in a positive direction can stop anger, bitterness and resentment. Try to focus on what's going well in your life, on the things that make you happy, and on the people who didn't let you down. nine0003


    Jealousy is when you are worried that someone takes yours. Envy is when you want to get someone else's.

    Homer Simpson, cartoon character

    When a person feels jealous, he feels that someone or something threatens something valuable to him. In relationships, jealousy occurs between partners, family members, friends and colleagues, when a person begins to feel that someone or something comes between him and another, which threatens him with failure. nine0003

    If you are not very jealous, this may be a good thing: you keep your eyes open, making sure that you do not relax and do not take someone's words for granted. The positive meaning of jealousy is that it protects you from losing, warning you that it may be time for you to start your own game, make some effort or take precautions so that nothing escapes you.

    But if you are too jealous, it is very easy to see something suspicious in every action and decision of another person. Jealousy is often a unique mixture of emotions: fear, anger, resentment, grief, betrayal, feelings of inadequacy and humiliation. You may feel threatened, insecure, and inadequate. nine0003

    You may become overly sensitive, overly alert and overbearing. But desperate attempts to ensure their safety only increase the distance. So how do you learn to control jealousy more than it controls you?

    In practice

    Jealousy creates problems for others, but is torture for the person himself.

    William Penn, Founding Father

    Take positive action. Ask yourself: “What am I so afraid of losing?”. Someone's time, attention, friendship, love, respect? Jealousy can emphasize what you value in friendships and other relationships. Sometimes we need a shake-up to remember the most important thing and realize that we may be about to lose it. Therefore, take this feeling as a hint that you need to express your recognition and respect. nine0003

    Learn to trust. Insecurity is part of any relationship. You cannot control another person, but you can learn to trust him. If you've been betrayed in the past, it's understandable that you feel vulnerable.

    Don't let your past experience convince you that trust is not safe, trust in loyalty and honesty.

    Focus on the positive aspects of your relationship and time spent together. Talk about it. Recognizing your vulnerability, sensitivity to resentment and fear of rejection is not weakness at all. If you do not say this, you will still demonstrate by blaming your partner for everything and constantly interfering in other people's affairs. Own your own feelings. Don't blame them on someone else. Try to start with the pronoun "I"; Instead of blaming, “You make me feel…” say, “I get worried when…” instead. nine0003

    Rely on your instincts and intuition. If nothing happens, then the other person will have no problem talking about it, worrying no more than when discussing dishes for dinner. But if he can't calmly discuss your insecurities, doesn't want to reassure you of anything, or forces you to constantly ask around to get any information, you may indeed have something to worry about.


    Envy is the art of counting other people's blessings instead of your own. nine0138

    Harold Coffin, humor writer

    There is always someone who we think has a better life than us. Some have more experience, more money, more happiness, and smarter kids than ours. Maybe you're jealous because someone took advantage of an opportunity you had in mind - a job, a house, a new partner.

    Envy can undermine your confidence, make you feel like you are out of touch with life, and also give rise to certain thoughts that lead to resentment and bitterness towards other people. nine0267 You may be torturing yourself by reading the posts of friends and colleagues on social media, and even reading the boastful posts of people you don't even know. You compare them with yourself and see your desires; their strength highlights your weakness. You doubt your own abilities and achievements.
    Envy can cause you to lose the idea of ​​yourself. By comparing yourself to other people, you can only see what they have and what you don't. But there is also a positive side to envy: it can induce you to improve your situation and achieve your own goals, and not someone else's. nine0003

    In practice

    Love looks through a telescope, envy through a microscope.

    Josh Billings, satirical writer

    Admit your envy. The next time you start complaining about the fact that someone has something again, and you feel pain, believing that everyone owes you everything, know that this is envy. Don't forget that envy narrows perception, so focusing on what others have can prevent you from successfully moving forward on your path. As a result, you will be captured by your own envy. nine0003

    Stop comparing. From the fact that you compare yourself with others, noting what you do not have, but they have, you will only feel unhappy. There will always be people in the world who have something better than you. But remember that we are always comparing the worst we know about ourselves with the best we assume in others.

    Accept your feeling. If it's impossible to get what the other person has—say, marriage to a rock star—take it. Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on what you have and what you can achieve. nine0003

    Use your envy to set yourself a goal. This is emotional intelligence! If you want it, then maybe they once wanted it too. What did they do to get what they wanted? Instead of resenting: “Why do they have this? It's not fair", change your setting.
    Develop a plan of action to get what you want.

    This will make your approach more positive and you can control it by stopping comparing yourself to others and noting what you don't have that they have - you'll be too busy getting what you want.

    Learn more