Sometimes guilt can be a good thing. Guilt alerts you to behaviors you have that aren’t right. We all have an inner guidance system that clearly understands right from wrong and has this “knowing” when things are off. Sometimes the guilt you’re feeling is the “knowing” that what is happening, what you are doing, or the results you have are a direct result of something you need to stop doing.
You can use guilty feelings to get honest answers about your behaviors. If you know what you are doing is wrong and you do it anyway, then you are guaranteed to keep guilt as part of your life. That physical feeling in the pit of your stomach and the related medical issues are going to stay if you keep those behaviors in your life.
But it’s not all doom and gloom!
Here’s a step-by-step process for using guilty feelings as a tool for change:
Step 1 : Fell the sensation of guilt.
When you do the action that causes the guilty feeling, pay attention! What are you feeling? How does the feeling manifest? What is the feeling of telling you? What is the appropriate response for the feeling? What is the remedy for the guilt and proper response to the issue?
Step 2 : Make a plan.
Once you have addressed and accepted the feeling of guilt, it’s time to make a plan of correction. What plan needs to be in place to stop the behavior or make the situation right?
Step 3 : Execute the plan.
With your plan in place, move forward and take the steps needed to stop the behavior. Do you need an accountability partner or other mechanisms to be successful? (Bonus: join the Venus Warriors Community!) Do what it takes to change the behavior and stop the guilty feelings.
Step 4 : Repeat the process.
It will take time to establish a consistent and new way to stop doing the guilt-inducing behavior. Repeat the process until you have no problems doing the right thing and enjoying a guilt-free result.
Here is an example of using guilt as a tool for change:
Jenn has a habit of going to the coffee shop each day on her way home from work. Most days, the latte is a welcome treat and refreshing after a long day at work - though she does admit there are days that she gets the latte more out of habit than desire.
Over the last six months, Jenn has noticed her jeans aren’t fitting like they used to. She knows that the daily latte isn’t helping her manage her weight and she has seen the toll of spending $5.00+ per day on coffee has put on her bank account. She feels guilty when she realizes that she spends nearly $200.00+ a month on coffee and can’t fit into jeans.
Lately, it has gotten to the point that Jenn isn’t enjoying that latte so much, but she feels empty and as if something is missing if she skips the treat. She wants a resolution that reduces her waistline, her spending, and still helps her feel refreshed after work.
Step 1 - Experience the sensation of guilt.
Jenn knows that the habit of getting a latte has morphed from refreshing and energizing to guilty feeling and making a negative impact. She is motivated to make a change.
Step 2 - Make a plan.
Jenn decides to ask herself the serious and honest question each day after work “Do I really want a latte right now?” In doing so, she promises to only get a latte if she really wants one. She also makes the plan to either replace her latte with a low-calorie option or to bring something from home three days per week to reduce costs.
Step 3 - Execute the plan.
Jenn asks herself daily if she wants the latte. She discovers that more often than not, she settles for an iced tea or enjoys her drink from home. She has changed her habit from five times per week to two times per week.
Step 4 - Repeat.
Sally has discovered her POWER within! She has a renewed sense of satisfaction and self-control as she has tackled the issue. Her bank account and waistline are proof that she is making the best decision for herself. She is free from the guilt and habit of overindulgence.
Guilt doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. You can use guilt as a powerful tool to change your behavior and improve your lifestyle. These simple steps will help you use guilt to change your habits and improve your self-esteem.
Everything has a positive side. Guilt can be a positive motive to change for the better!