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10 Ways to MANAGE GUILT & SHAME: What to do when you THINK it’s YOU

why is everything my fault

Whole lot of guilt and shame floating around in the mood and anxiety disorder neck of the woods. And that’s really sad, because it’s way most often unwarranted. So, what to do when you think it’s you? Let’s take care of biz…

Always remember, just as a portion of your guilt and shame leanings come from learning, you can also learn to manage them and comfortably move-on with your life.

Feelings of guilt and shame are so devastating. And the thing is, it’s bad enough when we have it coming. But it’s a tragic waste when we don’t.

As a counselor, I see it all the time. And I gotta’ tell ya’, I’ve had my share of episodes over the years.

So there has to be something to guide us out of the woods, right? Let’s see what we can come up with…

10 Ways to Manage Guilt & Shame

Let’s be clear, when it comes to changing how we think, and subsequently feel and behave, I never assume we can wave the magic wand of, say, cognitive restructuring and the dilemma is handled.

Don’t we wish it was that “easy.”

Still, we can kick a dent into feelings of guilt and shame, as well as their devastating impact. Consider the following…

  1. Never forget your “leanings.” Be it genetics, temperament, environment, learning, a combo package – whatever – the bulk of the time we do what we do. I mean, it’s just the way we roll. Sure, we continue to strive for improvement; however, acceptance brings peace.
  2. If you’re in with #1, you have every reason to believe your guilt and shame aren’t valid – real. Even though you feel what you feel, I’ll wager a little voice within is telling you it doesn’t stand to reason. The voice is correct.
  3. You have only two tasks when guilt and shame make the scene. First, catch what’s happening, pause, and reflect upon your mind dynamics (how you roll). Second, don’t emotionally or behaviorally react.
  4. Following-up on #3, move-on to something else. Take a walk, meditate, hit the gym, practice yoga, journal, draw, watch a movie, etc. – until the initial onset and impact subside.
  5. Don’t make total cessation your goal. This is about management, not the “fix” (because there likely isn’t one – ouch).
  6. Keep in mind that managing feelings of guilt and shame is like any other emotional/mental relief strategy. It’s a discipline acquired and maximized through practice. The more you do it, the more proficient you become.
  7. Is there a pattern to the presentation of your guilt and shame? Perhaps they only present, or become more intense, under specific circumstances. Maybe you notice a decrease in intensity or occurrence under different circumstances. You won’t know unless you put some thought into it and do some tracking – take notes. Look for that pattern.
  8. Now that you understand your mind dynamics, learn to anticipate trouble and be prepared with a management plan. And keep an eye-out for what’s called prodrome – early signs and symptoms indicating trouble may be on the way.
  9. Take a common example of your guilt and shame episodes to someone you trust. Ask for a no-holds-barred opinion as to whether or not your guilt and shame are warranted. Use the feedback to further understand your perception of self and how you roll.
  10. Always remember, just as a portion of your guilt and shame leanings come from learning, you can also learn to manage them and comfortably move-on with your life. You can do this.

So what do you think? Do any of the above hit home? Please, if you have additions (or objections), let ’em rip in a comment below.

Let’s Wrap It Up

The guilt and shame dilemma is more common than you might think, especially on mood and anxiety disorder turf. Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. And, remember, I’ve been there.

It all can be so devastating, right?

Look, there’s always a way out of the woods. Just keep in mind that the rescue party is led by acceptance and management, not the endless pursuit of the “fix.”

Again, you can do this…

Help yourself to hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety disorder articles.

  • Patricia Miller

    Thank you for this timely article Bill. I’ve had a struggle with that feeling of not “being enough” and that always leaves me feeling as if I’m in what I call Failure Girl Mode….which engenders loads of shame because I “should” do better. I struggle with implementing the steps correctly, LOL so I’m sure I can put some more guilt on the plate that way too. ;-) I say that because I do tend to “act out” by self-soothing with food when in these high stress times. That seems like it’s in conflict with number 3. I do know I have a good array of alternative activities for distraction too and out helps so much to be reminded that I’m not bizarre for being myself.

    • Hey, Patricia, it’s been a while. Glad you stopped-by and shared with us. So sorry you’re struggling, but glad the article came at the right time. What you’ve shared will be great for someone in the same jam to read somewhere down the line. Nothing like being able to identify and see that the writer is maintaining her poise. And, of course, you aren’t “bizarre” in the least.

      Appreciate You…
      Bill