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How to let go of guilt ?

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This topic contains 38 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 month ago.

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  • #220885

    Naia
    Participant

    Hello 🙂

     

    Thank you so much for reading me, I am having a hard time getting rid of my guilt and I feel like it’s draining my life away… I have done something that I am not proud of and I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive myself :/

    To put the context my “best friend” and I were going through a very rough patch, she was bitter and very mean to me and she didn’t behaved like a friend anymore. She seemed jealous that I had a boyfriend, she lashed out at me because she felt neglected and offended that I spent time with him instead of her (I am a medical resident, so I don’t have much time and I really did my best to reconcile my work and my private life, i only got to see him once a week …). She is extremely possessive and has an abandonment fear. She ended up resenting my boyfriend and I wasn’t allowed to talk about him at all.

    When he dumped me, I had to go through the usual distress that comes after a break up alone because she didn’t want to hear about me and my broken heart.

    From that moment, I didn’t feel like she was my friend anymore let alone my best friend. I couldn’t and didn’t want to share anything with her.

    And here’s the awful thing I did, (I already feel like I am a monster so please don’t be harsh)

    She applied to a job and she was accepted but I knew her diploma was not admissible and she did not. Plenty of people with the same profile had failed and I felt like it was unfair (because she had been so mean lately, and i didn’t feel like she deserved the job) So what I did is that I emailed the Company to ask them about the situation without giving any name but they didn’t reply.

    At the same time, I was planning to talk to her about the fact that her diploma couldn’t be accepted but when I did the Company had already admitted their mistake and called her to cancel their offer. My friend, who’s the angry type insulted them and sued them (she lost).  She learnt someone send those emails but I didn’t have the courage to confess because she’s extremely resentful and vindictive and she would try to destroy and humiliate me.

    They would have found out either way, but that was none of my business. I shouldn’t have done that and I feel absolutely disgusted with myself… That was a horrible part of me that I don’t want to deal with ever again…The last time I did something I that did hurt someone when I was 12 or something and the unbearable guilt that came after prevented me from doing that ever again : I learnt

    Here’s why I feel so bad about this situation : every single person that knows me well says that I have a good heart, that I am genuinely kind and selfless. I volunteer, I love helping people that’s why I chose my job but I don’t know if I am still a good person after doing this and that makes me so sad 🙁

    I hate hurting people and having bad intention based on resentment,

    I feel like a shadow of my former self, that guild is seriously ruining my life. I am so disappointed in myself …

    What do you think ?

     

    Thank you very much for your help ! That means a lot 🙂

    #220939

    Prash
    Participant

    Dear Naia,

    Guilt happens when you do something against what you value about yourself.

    So probably the first thing that you would want to ask yourself is about the status of your relationship with your friend who has led you to this. Do you want to continue your relationship with this person who is resentful, possessive  and vindictive?

    When I feel guilty about something, I am not certain it goes away completely but what helps is an understanding that it is an event that has past. I have no control over that; that leads to a sense of acceptance. Re shifting the focus to the present, to what I can do now and a determination to prevent a similar de valuation of myself in the future helps me going forward. Rather than spending my time and energy in the past I try and devote myself to things that I can control and to things that make me value what I am.

    Hope this helps

    Take care

    #220981

    Naia
    Participant

    Dear Prash,

     

    Thank you for your reply !

    No, I don’t think I want to pursue a friendship with her anymore. I feel awful for saying this, but I don’t think I like her personality. She has changed a lot in the last 5 years, she’s become embittered and sometimes even spiteful. She always points out that I am much kinder than her and jokingly compares me to a Saint. After what I did, I don’t know if it’s true and I feel worthless. I think I deserve all the guilt

    She has great qualities, of course, she’s very generous, reliable, honest, outgoing … But in my opinion, her flaws outweigh her great qualities. Thank you very much for your advice 🙂

    I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for a month, maybe that will helps me to focus on the present

    Can a good person do a bad  thing once (and hopefully the last time) under certain circumstances ?

    #220983

    Naia
    Participant

    ,

    #220987

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Naia:

    You wrote about your former friend: “She.. jokingly compares me to a Saint. After what I did, I don’t know if it’s true and I feel worthless. I think I deserve all the guilt”.

    My input: you were not a saint before you sent those emails. You were not a saint before you were 12 (“I.. did hurt someone when I was 12). You are not a saint and never will be. You are human. What it means is that you are not a machine that if designed perfectly, it operates perfectly. You will make mistakes, you will misinterpret things, you will get angry again (can’t make void this inborn emotion we are born with, neither should we, if we could), and you will do things you will regret.

    You wrote, “every single person that knows me well says that I have a good heart… I don’t know if I am still a good person after doing this”. If you continue to believe that it is possible for you to be perfect, that will be a burden for those in close relationships with you because they could never match your perfection, falling short of it. And then, you yourself will fall short. It is an unreasonable pressure to live under.

    It will be better for the people in your life, if they know that you too, as good of a person that you are, that you too make mistakes and sometimes do the wrong thing. They will be able to forgive themselves when they do the wrong thing.

    My following point is very important in this context: there are wrong things that I cannot stomach, that knowing this or that person did that, I could not have a relationship with that person. And I will do what I need to do to protect myself and others from a person who does certain things that harm others. So it is possible for a person to do something so wrong, that it exceeds my ability to tolerate, so wrong that I will think of that person as a bad person.

    What you did, those emails, is not something that I cannot stomach. It is wrong but not that wrong. It is something that if I did, I would forgive myself, after noting to myself to not repeat this particular behavior. Fortunately, there were no negative consequences to anyone as a result of what you did.

    And now, it is about you accepting your human condition, your status as not a saint. Can you do that?

    anita

    #220989

    anita
    Participant

    * didn’t reflect under Topics

    #221091

    Prash
    Participant

    Dear Naia

    You asked “Can a good person do a bad  thing once (and hopefully the last time) under certain circumstances ?”

    The simple answer is – yes it is possible. The “bad thing” is more in the intention that you had and that was a consequence of whatever was going on in your mind given all the circumstances that you found yourself in. That is why irrespective of the outcome you are feeling the guilt. The way out is the growth that you have already started the process for – the mindfulness meditation.

    Small things start adding up when we are not mindful and become a full blown action when the small irritations are not attended to completely. In the future also, with similar circumstances where you feel betrayed and let down and also with physical exhaustion, the same tendencies are likely to act up. To prevent that mindfulness is a remarkable method that helps you be aware of what is going on and take the necessary action before the escalation takes place.

    You are essentially a good person. Don’t let some blips change that. Keep building on those facets of goodness that you see in yourself that add to your worth. Mistakes are likely to happen but don’t put yourself down rather keep learning and growing from them.

    Take care.

    #221175

    Naia
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

     

    Thank you so much for your kind words,  I needed to hear this. I think I worded it poorly, I meant “she says I am much kinder than her but I don’t know if that is true”. Of course I have never been a Saint, and I am sure they made mistakes in their lives as well. Nobody can be absolutely perfect, can’t they ?

    The thing is, I am much more tolerant and forgiving with others than I am with myself. The more time passes, the more I realise that the mistakes we make shape our personality and if we learn from them,  we become even wiser and more rationals. That is why I don’t hold grudges, I don’t see the point of blaming eternally someone who will (hopefully) learn from his mistake, evolve positively and become a different person.

    But you are right, I do put too much pressure on myself and strangely I can’t allow to have the same misbehavior without feeling extremely disappointed and worthless.

    I don’t define others by their mistakes, but I definitely do it with myself. I feel like I have betrayed who I was acting like this

    Maybe I get away from this “friend” ?

    I think I don’t have much self-compassion in this regard, I don’t know how to fix it 🙁

    But your reply helped tremendously I felt better reading it 🙂

    And thank you, thank you, thank you for saying you would forgive yourself. That put things in perspective.

    My last question is : how would you do it ? How would you manage to learn from it, move on, and be as kind to yourself as you were before ?

    In fact, the Company has realised their mistake and I think they would have found out anyways but there is a signifiant chance that those emails had something to do with it

    #221177

    Naia
    Participant

    Dear Prash,

    Thank you very much for your kind words ! That helps me a lot 🙂

    I try to meditate 10 minutes everyday, should I practice more ?

    #221179

    Prash
    Participant

    Dear Naia,

    Good to read from you. 10 minutes is a good start. Incorporating as many pauses as possible during your busy routine is also a good idea – a few minutes at a time focusing on your breath, focusing on the things that you do as a routine.

    A little focus inwards to your thoughts as you go about your life 🙂

    #221187

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Naia:

    I noticed you replied to me but I will not be able to read your reply before I am back, in about fifteen hours from now. I will read and reply to you when I am back.

    anita

     

    #221211

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Naia:

    You are welcome. First topic, the friend: “she was… very mean to me and she didn’t behave like a friend anymore… she lashed out at me.. extremely resentful and vindictive”. You asked: “Maybe I get away from this ‘friend’?”- my answer: yes, absolutely. There are other reasons you should but what I quoted above is enough of a reason to end your relationship with her. As a human (and not a Saint), you need to get away from people who display aggression against you, protect yourself from aggression. No “great qualities” she possesses can or should make up for her aggression, neutralizing it. Aggression must be not endured or tolerated for any reason (other than one’s very survival, when in captivity, I suppose).

    Regarding sending emails to a potential employer: this can be the right thing to do, a courageous, good thing to do in some circumstances, if people are likely to get hurt if she gets this or that job. It is okay to do something that will displease an abusive person so to protects potential victims. I am referring to you sending those emails as a wrong act only if there is no reasonable assumption of it protecting others, if your only motivation was to displease or harm her (which seems to be the case, correct?)

    You wrote: “there is a significant chance that those emails had something to do with it”- if they did, then you helped the company do their job, following their policy regarding diplomas they decided to not accept for the particular job. I suppose you helped their personnel people so that later they do not regret their own mistake of accepting her diploma. You helped someone then, a few people you don’t know.

    Regarding the rest of your posts, you wrote: “I hate hurting people and having bad intentions based on resentment… I think I deserve all the guilt… Can a good person do a bad thing once… Nobody can be absolutely perfect, can’t they?… strangely I can’t allow to have the same misbehavior without feeling extremely disappointed and worthless… I feel like I have betrayed who I was acting like this”

    What your words are suggesting to me is that you are carrying guilt from long ago, earlier in your childhood. It is as if you felt then that you did something so bad, that you decided: From now on I will never, ever do anything wrong! I will be perfect! As if you made such a decision and this decision allowed you to keep living in some peace… until you make a mistake. Maybe you believed that you hurt your mother, or your father, that you caused her to suffer and you felt like a bad, bad girl. Maybe, you can tell me if my guess is correct, and if it is not, what it is that you felt so responsible for as a child.

    You asked me: “How would you manage to learn from it, move on, and be as kind to yourself as you were before?”- before I answer this, I will wait for your answer to my question in the last paragraph, what is it that you felt so responsible for as a child?

    anita

     

     

    #221507

    Naia
    Participant

    Hi 🙂

    I am so sorry for the late reply !

    My laptop charger stopped working and I had to replace it

    Thank you very much for your elaborate reply !:) That is so kind of you to help me ! I feel much better

    Our friendship seems to have run its course indeed :/ Should I talk to her about that ? Or should I just slowly drift away ?

    Regarding those emails, it is true that I probably helped some persons in the Company to be in trouble later, I didn’t see it that way, thank you ! But yes, my motivation was rather to displease her :/

    You wrote ” It is as if you felt then that you did something so bad, that you decided: From now on I will never, ever do anything wrong! I will be perfect” and it is absolutely true, that describes me perfectly.

    I think it is going to sound stupid, because I suppose every kids do this type of mistakes but in hinsight I wasn’t very thoughtful or considerate as a child. Fortunately, my parents who are sensitive and compassionate people, taught me

    I remember I hurt some people not because I had bad intentions, but because I was immature and I didn’t realise the impact of my words and action (yet). I had no filter.

    For example, I was attending a small concert of amateurs singer with my parents. And during the break, I asked one of the singers when the show would be finished, when he told me it will be over soon, I breathed a sigh of relief and left.

    Then, my parents explained me why that wasn’t very polite and that the guy may had been upset from what I said. When I realised it, I felt awful.

    From 10 to 12 years old, I was teased and mercilessly bullied by my classmates until my parents made me change school . I was this shy, introverted and best in class girl. The teachers were aware of what I was going through, so they were nicer to me, which made the bullying even worse.

    Anyway, I became friends with two girls in my class who were a bad influence in hindsight. One of my teacher picked one of my book to leave a note to my parents because I was chatting in class, it was the first time i was reprimanded, and my friends encouraged me to steale the book before so that she wouldn’t be able to.

    Of course, she punished me later but I felt bad that I listened to those two girls,. The teacher was a good person who had tried to help me, I probably disappointed her and I didn’t want to be like that. I did others smalls things with those two girls, that I am not proud of.

    Everytime I behaved wrong, I recognized my faults, developed empathy, and I swore to myself I would do everything to prevent myself from hurting anybody the same way. Maybe that is why I am usually described as a “gentle and tactful” person.

    But what I did with those emails are at variance with my values

    Naia

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Naia.
    #221559

    Prash
    Participant

    Dear Naia,

    It felt so good to read your post and feel the sensitivity, the sense of right and compassion in you. That is probably the very reason why you are having difficulties with letting go of guilt with your current issue.

    Hope you are able to temper down a bit the expectations that you have from yourself while at the same time retaining your tact gentleness and compassion. Try not be hard on yourself.

    Take care

    #221573

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Naia:

    You are welcome. I am not at all offended that you didn’t reply soon after my post to you, so if you don’t reply to this one anytime soon, it is okay with me, and therefore, no need to apologize to me.

    Regarding whether to talk to your friend or slowly drift away, I think that if you can handle the distress involved, it will be a good exercise for you to assert yourself with her by letting her know that you are indeed ending the relationship with her and why. Notice such assertion is not about asking her anything, but in stating to her that the relationship is over and then moving away and going on with your life.

    Regarding your parents teaching you to be empathetic to others and filtering what you say so to not offend the singer, for example, that is an excellent teaching on their part.

    Did they also teach you that the classmates who bullied you for two years (10-12) were wrong to offend you,  that your feelings are just as important as, let’s say, that singer’s feelings?

    If they did, what did they tell you, how did they teach you that your feelings are important and shouldn’t be offended?

    anita

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