GUILT. What a pain filled word and horrible feeling!
As someone who was born and raised with guilt, I can tell you from experience how devastating guilt can be. Guilt is the like black magic. It puts a spell on you making you feel worthless and small. It robs you from any power you think you may have and leaves you feeling defeated. But just what is this one simple emotion that has such incredible power?
“Guilt” has been defined as “a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong.” The two key words in that definition are “bad” and “wrong.”
The psychological definition of guilt is: Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.
When you are feeling guilty about something (like your decision to get divorced), what you are really saying to yourself is that you are “bad” and “wrong” and that you have compromised your moral standards for having made the decision to end your marriage.
Society has put a lot of pressure on us making us believe that we are responsible for the success of our marriage without emphasizing that it takes two people to make a marriage work. So when a marriage unravels we automatically blame ourselves.
These feelings of guilt are understandable, but I want to encourage you to try and forgive yourself and move past your guilt. Guilt is a powerful emotion and it can overtake your better reasoning skills and undermine your parenting, especially if you feel your divorce is negatively affecting your child. The truth is, a divorce can sometimes be a good thing for a child and it can give him or her a more stable life.
If you feel guilty about your divorce, it is hard to parent. You already know that successful parenting involves setting limits and enforcing consequences. When you let guilt control your life, your children can easily get out of hand due to a constant guilt-trip.
So how do you get rid of your guilt and move on to your next chapter?
In Order to Overcome Guilt, You Must Forgive Yourself.
Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. We are usually capable of forgiving other’s easily yet, for some reason, we don’t afford ourselves the same luxury. When it comes to divorce especially, we feel that our actions are shameful and like we are the worst people in the world for having let everyone down. The reality however is that you have only let yourself down by not being more forgiving and kinder to yourself. Don’t you deserve a happy future? Don’t you deserve to smile again? Walk away from judgement and embrace yourself. The only time criticism is productive is when you channel it to work on your shortcomings in order to build a better future. That does not include blaming yourself!
Right now you are looking at your divorce with 20/20 hindsight vision, trying to think of all possible ways you could have done things differently.
Here is the truth. Hindsight glasses don’t exist! Neither should your guilt when you did the best with what you had at the time.
Reflections and Exercise
When you allow your Guilt to take over you are virtually keeping yourself a prisoner to your past. I know you want to move on and build your future, so you must let go and stop self-sabotaging your happiness. The next time you are feeling guilty and are unsure of how to forgive yourself, ask yourself this one question:
“How will this guilt serve me in the future?”
Think long and hard about this question…. I think you are drawing a blank just about now. I know that you can’t find an answer for this, because there is no answer.
I suggest you write down why you are feeling guilty. Write down some thoughts that are running through your head when this overwhelming feeling takes over. If you tune into your thoughts carefully you will realize that Guilt speaks the language of “maybe, could have, should have”. None of these words are concrete action words – they are passive useless words induced by the guilty voice in your head that is trying to make you believe that you can create picture perfect false realities that do NOT exist. Even if you could have done things differently the reality is your present state, and all you can do now is accept and believe that you were destined to make those mistakes in order to learn valuable lessons for your future.
Now that you know that these thoughts are just self-destructive let’s focus on a game plan on how to re-write your guild script. Here are some examples of some thoughts you may have and how to counter them:
Self-sabotage mindset: I should have really started to go to marriage counselling much sooner… why did I wait so long?
Forgiveness mindset: We went to couples therapy when we thought we needed it, and did everything in our power at the time to fix it. You were brave to try it, and should not feel bad about any of that.
Self-sabotage mindset: I feel guilty because maybe I should have brought up the fact that we weren’t communicating anymore.
Forgiveness mindset: It takes two people for a marriage to work and you were not responsible for both you and your husband. You did what you could with the strength you had at the time. Be proud of yourself for that.
Now it’s your turn! Write down the specific things that are making you feel guilty, then counteract them with the compassion you deserve. Do this whenever the guilt sneaks up on you, and as long as you are mindful and consistent with this practice, you can keep the Guilt Monster at bay.
I encourage you to let go of the guilt that comes with divorce. Remember why you made the difficult decision you did and be empathetic with yourself during your struggles. When you can operate from a solid sense of self, you will be able to get back to the hard and rewarding work of parenting so that everyone benefits. Best of luck!
Here is a bonus gift for you, don’t forget to download your free guide on how to avoid the top 10 mistakes you want to avoid during your divorce. http://Divorcehelp1.gr8.com
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