My sister just asked me “did you feel like when you were a kid today?”. I started the day with telling her that “I need to spend this day in my own world“, only to talk non-stop (and bother her), do handstands, laugh at stupid jokes, play with the dog and cry. I was very intense as a child, so yeah, I guess I did.
I had a day of liberation today. Liberation from almost two years of guilt from my past relationship. When we went through the breakup I was not my best self to say the least. I was cold, short-tempered and frustrated in general. Why? Because that was the only way I could deal with the pain of breaking up with this amazing person.
I couldn’t be my normal self in the process, even I didn’t understand my own behavior. After the break-up I booked 10 weekend trips the following months, I partied until 5 am two times per week and I tested things I never thought I would try in my life – all while posting pictures on social media about it. 5 months later when I got really sick, I got my wake-up call. My body was tired, my liver feed up with all the alcohol I had consumed and I was exhausted mentally. Who did I think I was fooling?
I realized that I had tried everything in order to forget what had just happened. Now, it was staring me right in the face and I had no other option than to deal with it: the pain in my heart.
I hurt him and I hurt myself. I know I handled the situation far from perfect. I’ve apologized several times, he has forgiven me and moved on. Even though I’ve also moved on, I’ve felt that there still has been a small part left, unwilling to leave. It was the guilt. Guilt over what I did towards him, but also towards myself. The guilt made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be happy, that I needed to suffer due to my mistake.
Today I forgave myself fully for what happened. It was time to let go, to move on completely. I did the best I could, from what I was capable of doing at the time. Feeling guilty doesn’t help anyone, it just leaves you in a position of feeling stuck.
We can apologize to others, but it’s not until we forgive ourselves that we can fully let go of the guilt.
Truly forgiving yourself for something that happened, where you didn’t act as you wish you would have done, isn’t easy. Our mind believes, that by holding negative emotions, it can go in and change the situation. We imagine that if we only would have done this or that, things would look different. Well, it is what it is. Feeling guilty doesn’t help anyone, it doesn’t help the person affected and it certainly doesn’t help you.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned on how to rid yourself of guilt once and for all:
1. Accept the situation
Realize that what happened has happened. It cannot be changed. If you need to mentally go through it one last time, do that. Simply observe the situation as it came to pass and let any emotion come up. Then release yourself from the guilt of what happened – know that you did the best you could at that time. Holding on to the past will not serve anyone, it will only keep you from not being fully present and happy.
2. Don’t judge yourself
When we act in a way we don’t appreciate about ourself, it’s easy to be judgemental. Don’t be hard on yourself. You learned something from it, something that in turn can help others. Trust that everything happens for a reason and that you’ve also felt this way for a reason – maybe it’s so you can learn to easier release negative emotions in the future? Know that going through this had its purpose. Find the blessing in disguise.
3. Practice forgiveness
Apologize, ask for forgiveness from the other person and from yourself. If you find that it’s difficult to talk about it, something I’ve found very helpful is to write about it. Be honest and speak from your heart. Decide that from today, guilt will no longer have power in your life.
Give yourself permission to move forward. Life’s too short to be wasted on negative emotions.