Putting Guilt in Its Place
Let guilt be a positive emotional tool alerting you to the fact that something may be wrong. Whenever guilt prompts you to look second time and alter behavior, it becomes an ally and not an enemy. Guilt feelings have a positive value when people respond to them and correct behavior that is inappropriate, offensive, hurtful, and destructive. Guilt opens the door for people to grow, learn, and mature.
People who do wrong things to themselves or to others should feel guilt for what they have done. If the guilt moves them to do good, to balance the bad, if it makes them more careful, more carring, it will have been constructive guilt. Guilt feelings can often be corrected, reduced, and even eliminated after they are carefully analyzed.
After analyzing your guilt, respond appropriately and rationally. If you have done something or failed to do something for which you feel guilty, then take corrective measures. Apologize, ask forgiveness, make amends if possible. Don't let guilt feelings drive you to extremes. Remember, you are not perfect. Don't expend great energy in self-blame or self-hatred making yourself miserable.
There is no point in repeating the same mistakes. Look back at what went wrong. Resolve not to let it happen again. Once you have taken all appropriate steps to make amends and correct behaviour, drop it, forget it, and move forward. One of the most important of all skills is that of forgetting. To be happy and successful you must cultivate ability to say to yourself- "forget it". Don't let guilt torment your life. Walk away from experiences that are over. Learn your lesson, be wiser, avoid useless postmortems over mistakes and move your life forward.
By using this types of strategies you can manage guilt feelings in a constructively manner that will lead to greater enjoyment and quality of life. In addition, you will also discern the difference between healthy guilt that sounds an alarm when something is definitely wrong and unhealthy guilt that takes on a life of its own and bears no relation to reality.