The human brain is still much unknown and no one can say why and how unexpected connections arise. For example, as a pre-schooler, you drew a picture for your mother and wanted to put all your feelings in the picture, so you also wrote "Dear mother" on it. You were so happy and full of excitement handed it to your mother. Of course, mother smiled and was happy, but a moment later, noticing that you wrote "Deer mom" - at that moment only wishing you the best – she told you: "You have a small mistake here - dear is not written with two E's, but with “EA”". And your excitement and joy were replaced by disappointment with yourself…
But why do we feel so guilty all the time?
Food, sex, money, work, family, friends, health, and politics: there is nothing we can't feel guilty about, including our own guilt.
Guilt is a means of self-control provided by nature - some have been given less, some more. Guilt is inherently something we feel in order for self-control and self-behavior to change when we do something that WE THINK is bad. Guilt also arises when we compare our actions against what we really expect from ourselves and who we really want to be. Sometimes I have noticed that people also seem to punish themselves with guilt - if I feel terribly guilty, then it is as if I am redeeming the sin and the act did not exist?
The media, society, influencers give the shades of colours to all our actions and label everything bad and good. Sounds familiar? When you relax, do you feel guilty for not working? At work, do you feel guilty about not being at home with your family? When you are with a partner, do you feel guilty for not spending more time with your friends or vice versa? Most of us are guilty in subconscious ways, and whatever the source, guilt can become a limiting emotional background, discolouring everything we do.
A very common example from the food and health industry - sugar and fat are demonized, everyone knows that salad is good but pizza and cakes are bad. In reality, however, everything is objective and depends on the context. The salad can also be put together in such a way that it is equal in composition to pizza.
In addition, you get the feeling that eating any "wrong" food is not just unhealthy - it is also a clear sign of lacking the willpower. When we classify foods as good or bad, we also classify ourselves as good or bad, strong or weak, worthy or worthless.
The environment around us is so powerful that a large proportion of women are on a lifelong diet, feeling constantly guilty about eating. Women often feel so bad because of "cheating" that even if it is not true, they are convinced that they certainly ate more than they should have.
But guilt rarely helps
If you do not know what your goal is and what are the measurable steps to achieve it, then guilt is just a habit. For example, you eat something "sinful" in the evening, but since you don't measure your daily consumption, you don't really know how your “sin” affected your final consumption. In the same way, you create feelings of suffering and under-motivation yourself. Instead, the solution is to take the control and decide to direct your own life. If you take responsibility for what you do, then there is no longer any reason to feel guilty - because you didn’t fail, but you decided to do so. Taking responsibility also gives you the tools to manage your life - if you decide - that I would like to do sports - but for me, at the moment, is more important to be with my family – then you can focus on a different solution, a possible compromise and you have no reason to feel bad – you just have to enjoy your decision and to tell yourself that I am happy and I’m going to enjoy it without guilt. Be a reliable partner for yourself, because only then your internal talk will be credible. If your word and promise to yourself is worthwhile and you make your decisions consciously, then you have the inner confidence with which you can plan, think ahead and give yourself permission - eliminating the seeds of guilt :)
For example, you have promised yourself that you will take care of your health and you have set goals for this: I train three (M, W, F) and walk four (Tu, Th, Sa, Su) times a week, keep the weekly caloric intake at 14,000 kcal and sleep at least seven hours each night.
On Thursday, however, colleagues decide to go out to eat together on Friday, after work and you feel that inner anxiety about how it will thwart all your plans. You already know what comes with it - eating more than you should, it will definitely end as a party and you’ll stay awake for too long. However, if you look at your weekly plan now, you can make decisions and make quick adjustments within it. On Thursday, you do Friday's workouts before the walk, you can tweak the "supplementary budget" from Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's "budget" for an additional Friday night, and postpone the activities planned for Saturday morning until noon. In other words, knowing that everything is actually under control, there is no reason to feel guilty, because despite the change of plan, you keep your word, you continue to move towards your goal and you can enjoy Friday night with pleasure. In other words, planning gives you the opportunity to think ahead and give yourself "permission", and you don't have to eliminate the consequences later, which are much more negative, cause more guilt and are a source of nonsense.
Turn guilt and other negative emotions in your favor
If you feel guilty, take it as a learning experience. Guilt clearly tells you that you don't like what you did. Okay, you cheated on yourself, a colleague, a friend or your loved one - but what will you do differently next time? What does this feeling tell you about yourself, and how does looking back on this situation make you feel? In this way, feeling guilt is good for you - because the desire to avoid the feeling of failure can become a strong motivator.
I like the phrase "Be at cause" - be the reason why things happen in your life. It gives the feeling that I choose everything in my life and also helps to make it easier to make sense of everything what happens outside of me. Another great way to succeed in fulfilling your desires and plans is to understand the root cause - "Why do I want it?" Or "Why did it happen?". If WHY is clear, then the internal motivation and reasons are in place. If we want something just because it is the norm of society, it does not motivate us for a long time, and the result achieved may not bring the enjoyment. While learning quality management, I also got acquainted with the lean management system and its tool "5 Why". However, cost-effective thinking for companies is worth taking over into your daily life in any case. Yes, it is not easy to transfer it immediately to every area of our lives - because we are carried by emotions - but over time you will become more skilled and you will win anyway. It is a rational way to go beyond your feelings, and if you let all your desires, thoughts, and feelings through the five-why-filter, you will also trigger cognitive mechanisms and you will be able to discover your inner corners that you had no idea about.
When you put these two new habits together, you’ll get a really powerful tool what actually helps us more broadly - because most of the time we don't realize what forces carry us through our daily lives. We all have pain points and triggers that we can be sure, will upset us, and quite often it is difficult to deal with that irritation, frustration, anger and guilt afterwards. Capability not to handle own negative emotions often becomes a habit that seems very difficult to change. However, if you analyze the situation according to the situation, become aware of the underlying causes of your emotion, you reach the root cause using the five WHY’s, then you will create a great soil for the future - where you can become more aware and control your emotion.
In other words, it must be understood that no one else, but we are choosing the direction of our thoughts, emotions and actions. Understanding this is also the basis for directing your feelings - is it irritation, frustration, anger or guilt. Understanding and seeing the connections, however, provides a basis for conscious action and intelligent behavior :)
For each setback, think about everything you've already done to reach your goal. Know that on a journey you have already begun, you can never fall back to the beginning - this journey is like a spiral, and although you feel that you are back to where you have been before, it is not - you are smarter and more experienced today. Be proud of your steps! Know that you are already several steps closer to the future you want, and when you fall, you can always reach the root cause of the fall and continue your journey from the next level and much smarter way :)