I Feel Like a Bad Person: Overcoming Guilt and Shame

Have you ever had that sinking feeling in your gut when you know you’ve done something wrong? That momentary panic when someone catches you doing something embarrassing? Well, join the club! Feeling like a bad person is not uncommon. But how do we move past it and stop letting guilt and shame control our lives?

In this article, we’ll explore some effective ways to overcome those negative emotions so you can start living a happy, guilt-free life!

What is Guilt vs. Shame?

Before diving into how to overcome these feelings of guilt and shame, let’s first distinguish between the two.

Guilt is an emotion that arises from feeling responsible for harm caused to others or oneself by one’s actions or lack of action. It’s when you feel regretful about something specific that YOU did (or didn’t do), which resulted in harm or pain towards another person.

Shame on the other hand often involves a broader sense of self-worth rather than a particular behavior or action. When experiencing shame, we may feel unworthy or “less-than”. This often stems from outside sources such as societal pressures/expectations to look/behave certain ways.

Knowing this distinction can help us better address these emotions head-on with different strategies.

From childhood programming to social pressure’s influence on our psyche- there are plenty of reasons why people experience feelings of guilt & sorrow. Whether real/highly imagined events trigger them, they never occur out without purpose but unfortunately leave their mark often undermining morale in consequence.
Here are several causes:

1) Growing up with critical parental figures who believed punishing children for what they deem misbehaviour was necessary for “good behaviour”.
2) Very high expectations placed upon individuals causing adverse outcomes/perfectionism
3) Staying silent after doing/saying something morally incorrect
4) Cultivated fear of being judged, ridiculed or rejected by family/friends/community
5) Witnessing events (on screen/on news/real life experiences)

It’s essential to bear in mind that the majority of the time, our feelings are not based on evidence. It’s helpful to work through your emotions and change your self-talk from negative thoughts into positive ones.

Try Mindfulness Meditation

One way to shift away from negative thoughts is through mindfulness meditation. This exercise involves observing one’s thoughts without judgmental commentary/content on oneself as part of a larger system. Engaging in breathing exercises while doing physical activity helps tremendously too!

Research has proven just 10 minutes/day can enhance your focus and relaxing ability- sometimes even diminishing depression symptoms long-term.
The process difficult due to needing an attentive mindset requiring full-time adherence.

How Can You Practice?

1) Begin by finding a quiet room where distractions are minimum & you feel comfortable mentally
2) Sit up straight keeping good posture with legs crossed/or using chair if need be ensuring there is no discomfort anywhere else while engaging muscles non-intrusively
3) Close eyes and focus on breathing pattern/common noises around environment- bringing attention/concentration solely towards this moment: increase awareness
4) Let intrusive ideas meld away until inner peace returns

Practicing daily for short moments turns it into an everyday thought chain breaking down inhibitions over time.

Find Someone To Talk With

Another effective method when dealing with negative emotions is talking them out with someone you trust like therapy or friend group sessions where everyone commiserates/sympathizes/helps each other get rid off past transgressions become more manageable.

Group therapies utilize this best because sharing how we feel/experience serves as a support system allowing people comfort discussing topics they might find hard addressing alone by normalizing these troubles removing shame/guilt attacking identity outright.

Most importantly, working through the often deep-seated feelings leaves less room for anxiety or depression.

Shift Your Cognitive Style

Reframing how we think & understanding why emotions arise in certain situations-regardless if deserved- can do wonders when combating guilt/shame.

Many people interchangeably associate negative beliefs about themselves even if reality is much different. This cognitive dissonance leads to more self-blame and ultimately trouble letting go of past events/actions affecting current mental health negatively. Instead, revisionist thinking which combines questioning initial perspectives with new ones may bring clarity/shed light on other aspects resulting from a situation easing feelings over time if done consistently

Things like your intrusive thoughts instantly regaining power are easier addressed once you recognize belief restructuring focusing instead upon positivity leaves limited area for negativity unwarranted moving forward!

Try this activity:

1) Grab notebook/paper recording any negative experiences/thoughts during entire week
2) On another page rewrite those issues in response then scrutinizing where the differences lay asking yourself whether one will help foster usefulness/positivity challenging conventional wisdom.
3) Start attempting first page’s questions to reflect change
4) Rinse/repeat practicing at least 5 minutes daily revising your usual thought process altogether using thoughtful suggestions implemented eventually becoming second nature; without having to force a positive viewpoint making it work organically!

By altering our train of thought/questioning motives each day regularly reverses faulty brainwaves shutting down negativity much faster than just standing still- however difficult initially.

Embrace Imperfection

Another common reason people feel guilty or ashamed is that they hold themselves up to unrealistic standards. Whether their defined perceptions of what being perfect means hasn’t been accomplished or never actually vocalized holding oneself accountable too strictly can lead towards harsh criticisms that have little basis it truth wherein character flaws lie, giving rise with further reinforcement pertaining imposter syndrome/the need for perfectionism convincing an individual isn’t worthwhile- hindering their growth and amplifying negative viewpoints.

It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Not only that, but the quest for perfection is a futile one. You will never be perfect, so why waste your time chasing an unattainable goal?

Instead of focusing on being perfect, embrace your flaws and use them as opportunities for growth. Allow yourself leniency when needed without detracting from achievements!

Withholding when it comes to doing/saying something disagreeable or offending presents challenges-specifically with anxiety regarding repercussions later on. Human beings often hesitate expressing true feelings in dangerous scenarios & taking cover behind memory supressing anything shameful/morally incorrect laid bare possibly terrified someone judging them outright! But sometimes still hoping no one finds out…ever even if it weighs us down

In contrast, owning up/admitting wrongdoing offers several beneficial outcomes!
On a personal level, you make peace with shortcomings knowing words spoken/done cannot change past events making efforts towards becoming better versions instead.
Moving forward, guilt dissolves since action was taken rather than avoided!
Finally,-more definitively- because honesty positively influences further conversations/relationships going forth both professionally/personal – earning respect/trust ultimately!


Guilt/shame are powerful emotions that can significantly impact our mental well-being if left unchecked even long after said events have already transpired.

We’ve discussed various strategies for managing these feelings including:
– Mindfulness Meditation
– Finding Someone To Talk With
– Cognitive Restructuring
– Embracing Imperfection
and most importantly…
Facing situation head-on by admitting truths always benefits personally/professionally guaranteeing less shame/guilt stemming from denied regrets affecting personal development negatively allowing progress unhindered having much more direction/confidence starting anew each day.!

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