A Life Coach Reveals How to Overcome Guilt and Worry

There are few feelings in life more troublesome than guilt and worry.

Worried Rapunzel

(Tangled via Walt Disney Pictures)

Even though they often arise out of irrational fears and mistaken perceptions, guilt and worry can have a highly negative impact on your self-esteem, your mental health and your overall peace of mind.

When you find yourself trapped in a cycle of guilt and worry, it's difficult to break free. What may start as a small seed of unfavorable emotion can quickly grow and consume every aspect of your thoughts and feelings.

So how do we effectively overcome guilt and worry? We asked Emma Baltodano, a Certified Integrative Wellness Life Coach and Founder of Lemonade Life Coaching.

Scroll below for Emma's perspective and guidance on overcoming guilt and worry.

1. Understand That Guilt and Worry Are Not Always Negative

Guilt and worry have extremely negative connotations, so it's easy to assume that any feelings of them are bad. However, Emma points out that all emotions have the ability to serve a positive purpose.

"In themselves, no emotion is negative," she says. "They all have their uses. For example, it is fear that will spur you to run away from a dangerous situation."

Emma goes on to explain that our feelings and emotions are the stimulus for our actions, which can bring about positive change.

"If you see fire and feel fear, you will run away from it, which is 99% of the time the right thing to do," she says. "If you do something horrible and feel guilt, hopefully that will spur you to make amends."

From this perspective, feelings of guilt and worry can actually be a positive element in ensuring you do the right thing, and that you don't repeat the same mistakes in the future. 

Girl Sitting at Table

(via Unsplash)

 

2. It's All About Your Reaction

Even though feelings of guilt and worry are not negative in themselves, whether or not they play a positive role in your life is completely dependent on your reaction to them. If you feel these emotions once, they can be a very useful tool, but Emma provides some insight into how these emotions can become problematic. 

"These emotions become negative when we experience the same ones over and over again without processing and moving on," she says. "If you feel fear every time anyone mentions the word fire, then you are telling yourself a story that you need to address and if you don't address it you will be held back by this."

 

3. Don't Be Afraid to Analyze

In order to process your feelings of guilt and worry and move on from them, you must first be willing to analyze where those feelings are coming from. Emma first suggests that you take a look at whether these emotions are actually under your control. In essence, you must determine if these feelings are a result of your issues or someone else's.

"If it's someone else's, then recognize it as such and relinquish control of it," she explains. "You can only control your own thoughts and actions —you are never responsible for someone else's."

If you've determined that these feelings are in fact under your control, Emma proposes that you then delve more deeply into the reasoning behind your guilt or worry.

She suggests asking, "Is the story you are telling yourself really true? If you are telling yourself, 'Taylor hates me because I spilled juice on her dress,' can you really know for sure that Taylor hates you? Do you know absolutely that she hates you?"
When you take time to question your thoughts regarding your guilt and worry, you may realize that you cannot be 100% certain about the responses to these various questions. Allowing yourself to get caught up in your own thoughts will only cloud your judgment. Instead, recognize that you don't have all the answers and let go of your assumptions. When you accomplish that, you will be able to approach the source of your guilt and worry with a clear head and resolve the situation. You might even find out that Taylor was never angry with you in the first place!
Friends at Canyon
(via Unsplash)

 

4. Be Willing to Move On

After you have analyzed your guilt and worry, your must be willing to move on from it. The situation may or may not be completely resolved, but once you have put in the work to understand your emotions, continuing to focus on them will only make you unhappy. Emma suggests that you should focus on these emotions only as long as it takes to learn from them.

"These feelings are there to warn you of things and make you check in with yourself," Emma says. "If you address them and move on, then you grow. If you don't, then they can hold you back in all areas of your life."

 

Looking for more advice on dealing with your emotions? Click HERE to find out how to handle feeling overwhelmed with jealousy.