Getting Rid of Guilt

by Mark Ivar Myhre on August 2, 2008

Getting rid of guilt can seem like an impossible task.

Part of the reason lies with your subconscious mind.  Your subconscious acts like a rudder underneath a boat.  The rudder points you in one direction, while you may want to go in a different direction.

Before I explain how to get your subconscious to work with your conscious mind so you can get rid of guilt, let’s first look at some of the reasons it’s so alluring…  and so hard to end.

1. Guilt motivates you.

What gets you up in the morning?  What motivates you throughout the day?  What keeps you ‘fired up’?

For a lucky few,  it’s their character.  But if you haven’t yet developed your character, then most likely you’re using guilt to motivate yourself.

When character is lacking, guilt often substitutes in its place.

“If I don’t do this job, I’ll feel guilty.”

That’s one of countless examples of using guilt to force yourself to take action when character is lacking.

But by developing your self esteem, you’ll also be developing your character.  For a complete discussion of what character is and how to strengthen it, go to self esteem

2. Guilt puts you to sleep.

Guilt numbs you.  It can even put you to sleep and/or paralyze you.  In a way, it resembles self pity.

As an anesthetic, guilt separates you from yourself and your world.  It’s a way to avoid the pain and to avoid your own true feelings.

On the surface, this may not seem like such a bad idea.  Who wants to feel pain?

The problem is, the pain never goes away.  Instead, it silently spreads.  Pain left unattended always grows.

Plus, pain locks up your power.  The longer you stay in pain, the more powerless you become.  And more powerless you become, the more painful it gets.  It spirals downward – so the longer you put off dealing with it, the worse it becomes.

Pain is best dealt with the same way you deal with your feelings.  You feel the pain as fully and completely as you can.  You surrender to the pain instead of fighting it.  You feel it – so you can let it go.

You let it in, instead of trying to push it away.  You go through the pain.  Or, let the pain go through you.  However you see it.

3. Guilt offers a way to manipulate.

Many people love to manipulate because it offers a cheap sense of power.  But besides trying to manipulate others, more commonly we manipulate ourselves.

For example, we fool ourselves into thinking that feeling guilt equates to feeling remorse.

It’s not.  Remorse can be a powerful stepping stone to forgiveness and thus change.  With guilt, on the other hand, you can only spin your wheels.  And nothing changes.

4. Guilt has a short half-life.

When you feel guilty – that guilt never lasts very long. It quickly putrefies into resentment.  So if you’re attempting to make someone feel guilty – watch out!  They’ll soon resent you.

Because of this characteristic of guilt, you end up finding and creating more things to feel guilty about.  It’s the only way you can keep the pattern of guilt alive.

5. Guilt often substitutes for emotional intensity.

Because we can feel so guilty, and it feels so uncomfortable – if not downright painful – we often believe we’re in touch with our true feelings, and the intensity of those feelings.

But we’re not.  Pain and uncomfortability do not equal emotional intensity.  When you really truly feel any emotion – cleanly – with no story attached – it’s invigorating.

It’s like the adrenaline rush from seeing a snake, or the body rush that comes from looking down from a tall building.  Clean fear comes and goes quickly.  While the imaginary, painful fears – that come from the fear stories – can last a lifetime if not engaged, handled and ended.

The imaginary fears drain you and leave you weaker.  In the same way, guilt drains and weakens you.  Guilt, like imaginary fears, seem so intense.  But it’s not real.

6. Guilt keeps you focused on the past.

Because guilt comes as a reaction to a past event, you’re always looking backwards.  Guilt forces you to focus on the past.  It keeps the past alive.

Why would we do this?

Here’s two basic reasons:  First, we have a tendency to try to fix the past.  To ‘get it right’ this time.  Second, we have plans for that past; such as using it to manipulate or punish someone.

Again, forgiveness provides a good way to help let go of a past that’s ended – and needs to be put to rest once and for all.

7. Guilt keeps you from responsibility.

You can’t be responsible when you’re feeling guilty.  Ironically, some people feel that guilt offers a form of penance; a repenting of sins.

“If I feel guilty – I’m paying my dues; I’m being responsible.”

But two wrongs don’t make a right.

Guilt takes you further away from responsibility, rather than closer to it.  Besides, responsibility has nothing to do with ‘righting wrongs’.

Responsibility requires you to clearly respond to your life.  And it’s hard to be clear when you’re feeling guilt.

8. Guilt comes from the ‘shame of being’.

I used to feel guilty so much of the time. For me, as present as these first seven characteristics were in my life, I lived with one more overriding factor: Shame.

Guilt formed as a never-ending byproduct to the never-ending shame.  I often felt guilty for no reason at all.  But surely I must have done something wrong… to feel this guilty… something… somewhere… sometime.

That’s the nature of shame.  You feel guilty just for being alive.

Shame.  While related to guilt, shame stands as it’s own separate issue.  Shame holds much more complexity than guilt.  It requires more effort to end.  And it’s way beyond the scope of this article.

For now, let’s get rid of that guilt!

Getting Rid Of Guilt

The following technique helped me to virtually eliminate guilt – almost overnight.  While I still can feel a tiny bit of guilt every now and then, it’s only a whisper.  And I can easily laugh it off.  Most importantly, it  never sticks around.

What helped me was knowing:

1.  Guilt is a substitute for real emotion. Usually, it’s anger we don’t feel we have a right to have.  For example, let’s say you invite me to lunch.  I don’t really want to go.  And I end up arriving late.  I can’t really get angry – so I’ll feel guilty instead.

2. While I’m feeling guilt – I can’t feel love. And yes, I’m aware guilt often becomes a substitute for love.  We feel guilt – and think that means we’re being loving in some way.

Trust me, you are not loving – you are not being loving – during the time you feel guilt.  Guilt and love cannot coexist.  You feel either one or the other, but never both simultaneously.

Anyway, to most elegantly get rid of guilt, you’ll want to work with your subconscious mind.  Your subconscious mind contains much more consciousness than your conscious mind does, it cannot make choices.  It never decides what to do.

It only follows orders.  So your responsibility – first of all – is to clearly understand what you really want.    (This is a major part of the Create Your Own Reality program.)

In this case, the question you need to ask yourself  –

Am I willing to end guilt?

Because you need to make sure you really want to end it.  You may wish to review those characteristics of guilt listed above, to see if you have any hidden reasons for keeping guilt in your life.

Once you’re clear – then it’s time to communicate – effectively – with your subconscious mind Your subconscious mind communicates mostly through imagination and feelings.

It’s easy to communicate with it.  You’re already doing it, and you’ve been doing it your entire life.  Admittedly, you maybe did it much more effectively and efficiently as a child… but it’s a natural ability and a skill to be developed.

The best way I’ve found so far is to sit or lie down, close my eyes, relax my body and take conscious control of my breathing.  This sets the stage.

(When I consciously control my breathing – which normally my subconscious controls – it gains the attention of my subconscious.)

Then I’ll count from 5 to 1 – as a signal to my body and my mind and my subconscious that I intend to enter a slightly-altered state of consciousness. This also sets the stage.

Next I create images in my mind, and bring in as much emotional intensity as possible… or as much intensity as the situation or scene calls for.

And that’s the framework – the basis – the context – for what I call ‘visualization exercises’ or ‘meditation’.

So how can be use this to end guilt?

It can be easy and straightforward.  I did the following exercise one time and ended about 90% of my guilt.  But first I had to really let it in – guilt is a fabrication, a manipulation, an expedient motivator, etc.

Plus, I was highly motivated.  I was so sick of feeling so much guilt!

So here’s what I did:

I sat down, relaxed, closed my eyes, etc. – and counted from 5 to 1.  Then I imagined myself getting an egg out of the refrigerator.  As I imagined myself holding the egg – I started thinking of things that made me feel guilty.  I started remembering the times I had felt guilty.

I made myself feel as guilty as I possibly could.  This went on for several minutes; as long as I could stay focused on the guilt.

Then I imagined all the guilt flowing from me and into the egg.  Filling the egg… filling the egg… filling the egg with guilt.  I did this as long as I could stay focused.

Finally, when I felt like I’d completely filled the egg with my guilt – then I imagined myself walking over to the sink and breaking the egg.  Then I slowly, carefully, deliberately imagined the guilt drain down the sink.

The egg represented my guilt – and breaking it into the sink, while watching it slowly drain away – was a message to my subconscious that I wanted the guilt to drain away.  I did this with as much clarity and focus and power as I could possibly muster.

Then I ended the meditation.

As you can see, it’s simple and straight-forward.  And worked quite well for me.  Here’s the key:

  • I was highly motivated to end guilt.
  • I did this exercise with a lot of intensity and concentration.

Finally, I went out and bought some eggs and did it in the ‘real’ world.  And since then, I’ve felt very little guilt.  Maybe it was just my time to end guilt.

If you’ve read my free e-book on emotional healing – then you know what a big believer I am in the power of processing your thoughts and feelings.

But when it comes to guilt – to getting rid of guilt – you really don’t need to ‘process’ it out.  Because guilt is a fabrication.  There’s nothing of substance to process.

Instead, it’s more of a ‘flushing’ like the pity flush that gets rid of self pity.

Try it.  Just remember to keep those characteristics of guilt in mind – and make sure you really want to end it.  Because from my experience, that’s the only way you’ll be able to get rid of guilt.


Christina June 2, 2011 at 5:08 am

Great advice! Thank you.

kaitlyn October 29, 2011 at 8:00 am

going to try this later…

Maria November 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

I was real drunk one night and I went out with the daughter of my friend, the thing is that we end up in a place that I used to go with my husband, all of the sudden I remember that I was kissing her…I felt so a shame of my self that now I don’t even want to go out thinking that every body has seen me nd that they will talk about it….boy I hatee my self…what should I do?

Mark Ivar Myhre November 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I wish I had a nickel for every thing I’ve done that I later regretted!

If it were me I’d probably laugh it off. But if it bothered me too much, I’d spend the time to feel the shame, embarrassment, anger, etc and then I’d forgive myself.

Or, you could use this as an excuse to beat yourself up for the next ten years…

your choice.

Lauren Finley January 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thank you so much. It feels like a million pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders. This was truly helpful. Thank you. Bless you.

Kaitlyn April 2, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Dear mark:
last week I was sitting in English room taking my science test because I was absent the day the rest of the class took it. I was on facebook when I was supposed to be studying, so when I sat in the English room I didn’t get the test at all. I have friends in English, so I asked a girl a question about the test. Right then, my scienc teacher walks in and caught both of us cheating. He said that he was going to give us zeros. That night, I lied to my mom that we weren’t cheating and that she was only asking me a question. My mom went up to my science teacher andctold him that she knows that I would never cheat. She was in tears while she was talking. My science teacher agreed to give us no zeros, but now I feel extremly guilty for cheating and saying such a big lie to my mother! I feel so guilty and just wanna go die in a hole. I wanna te her but if I did, she would be furious and never believe me again. Please help me get rid of this horrible guilt!

Mark Ivar Myhre April 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Generally, people feel guilt so they won’t feel what’s more real

“I don’t have the right to be angry so I’ll feel guilty instead.”

The funny thing about guilt is that it really doesn’t last that long by itself. You have to keep making yourself feel guilty. In this case, perhaps to punish yourself. When you feel guilt – if you would feel remorse instead, then you could forgive yourself and be done with it.

You made a mistake. Which proves you’re human. Now, what are you going to do about it? Feel more guilt and try to prove two wrongs make a right, or are you going to forgive yourself and move on?

You see? Guilt is a choice. And you have to keep pumping life into that guilt, or it would dissipate on its own.

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