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How To Get Over Your Guilt Trip

virtual life coach If you are on a guilt trip then you are most likely feeling remorseful because of something you did – or even forgot to do. Guilt trips can be minor or something that has festered away at us for years. Here’s the thing though, guilt isn’t a switch you can flick on or off. It’s a gradual process of accepting you’re not perfect – and that being imperfect is OK.

This week and next week, I’ll share some guidance on accepting that imperfection. But for now, here are my thoughts on how to get over your guilt trip.

Acceptance

feelings of guilt Whatever you – or anyone – did or didn’t do, you must accept that human beings will always do the best they can with the resources they have at the time. So, before you go beating yourself up, acknowledge that you were probably trying to do the right thing – even if that effort didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Perhaps you just didn’t have the knowledge or skills or insights that would have allowed you to handle the situation more effectively. 

If you behaved badly, cut yourself some slack. Realise that although something didn’t work out well, you were probably doing the best you could at the time. Our life is full of paths to our destination, so it’s not surprising that we take the wrong one now and again. The key is to realise it’s the wrong path and to get back on the right one as soon as you can. Choose to let go of any guilt you feel because of your brief ‘detour’. After all, you can’t change the past but you can change what happens going forward. 

Hindsight Is A Tool – Not A Weapon

virtual life coach paula meir When we are on our guilt trip we can easily replay the whole situation repeatedly in our heads, turning up the volume and emotion with each repeat. We cycle through the past and thus re-experience the shame and regret. If only we could go back, knowing what we know now, we would have done it differently, right?

Instead of using hindsight as a tool to further flagellate yourself, celebrate it. If you know you wouldn’t behave that way now, then you are clearly a different person than the one who behaved badly. Guilt is only possible if the experience you feel guilty about changed you. If it hadn’t, you wouldn’t be feeling the guilt. Perhaps you are older, a little wiser, have more knowledge or information than you did then, or you’ve mellowed a little, become more resilient or expanded your life experience.

Whatever the difference, you are different, so to continue punishing the new you for a mistake made by the old you doesn’t really seem fair, does it? Let it go.

Is Your Guilt False?

guilt complex False guilt is guilt that doesn’t belong to you. I see this in my coaching work more than you might think. We know if guilt is ours, right? Not always. Often a person can assume someone else’s guilt and carry it as though it were their own.

For example, a parent can feel guilty when their child behaves badly–and this can still happen when your child is an adult because you’re the parent and feel responsible for them. By accepting guilt on their behalf, you are effectively shielding them from the consequences of their own behaviour. But no one grows up until they experience — and appreciate– the consequences of their actions.

It can also happen when the individual in question doesn’t take accountability for what they did, so someone else in their vicinity will carry that guilt on their behalf. If you recognise this, give the guilt back: It’s not yours to own. The other person needs to take responsibility, so they can move forward and continue to develop as an adult. But regardless of whether they do, the guilt is not yours. Return it to its rightful owner. Immediately!

Guilt Is Complex

how to deal with guilt therapist Remember, guilt is usually about something you have done or said or something you should have done or said but didn’t. We can do and say things in the moment because of other stuff going on in our lives. For example, following a death, illness, stress or because of difficult relationships. This stuff can be the driver that moves us away from who we really are inside and transforms us into something or someone we don’t recognise. In other words, the way we behaved, even if it wasn’t great, doesn’t make us a horrible person. It just means we said something or did something that wasn’t so great at that time.

This isn’t about letting ourselves off the hook for bad behaviour, but it allows us to remember that “I am a good person but I did something stupid”, rather than “I did something stupid so I am a bad person”. This is a very important distinction because it allows us to isolate the incident, rather than allowing it to negatively impact our self-esteem and sense of self. Ask yourself, “If I had another chance, would I have handled things differently?” or “Would I handle it differently in the future?” If the answer is yes, then it shows the problem lies not with you as a person, it was your behaviour or action at the time that you regret.

To Sum Up

Guilt is an emotion, not a personality trait. It’s something we create but that doesn’t mean we can’t reflect on our actions and make peace going forward. Ultimately, beating yourself up about what you did or didn’t do won’t change anything about the situation. But, you can use this time of reflection to consider if you would have handled things in a better way and learn from it. 

As a therapist and life coach, I help my clients with a variety of topics including personal development. If you are ruminating over past situations and feel unable to move on, then talking about it could be a useful outlet. I am currently running virtual life coach sessions available internationally, so get in touch if it’s something that would be of benefit to you. 

Want a better night’s sleep? Try The Paula Meir Sleep Hypnosis. Now with 50% off when you use the code SLEEPWELL50.

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The Danger In Giving Up Your Choice

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We make choices all the time, from whether we want tea or coffee, to what we will wear to work. Even what we’re having for dinner. Most of these are easy and quick. The choices can be obvious or not. Sometimes, we decide not to choose. We will simply stick our heads in the sand and resist making any choice at all. But I would argue this is, too, is a choice. This often comes down to a culmination of stress or an institutionalised situation where we’ve lived with something so long we’ve lost all hope of an alternative reality.

Ironically, it’s often when we need most new ideas and options that our creativity and ability to muster those options seem to desert us. That’s perfectly natural, but it’s also dangerous. Of course, when this happens it can be very easy to find other people who are more than willing to make the choice for you. In fact, you need to be vigilant, because other people may try to make your choices for you. This can happen even when you have a clear idea of what you want.

Here are my thoughts on the danger of giving up your choice. 

Your Choice Is Yours Alone

paula meir
It takes courage to do what you want. Other people have a lot of plans for you. Nobody wants you to do what you want to do. They want you to go on their trip, but you can do what you want. I did. I went into the woods and read for five years.” – Joseph Campbell

If you don’t choose for yourself, someone else will choose for you. Beware of other people closing down your options or diminishing your possibilities before you have had time to fully explore them for yourself. Remember, other people’s advice is usually a reflection of what they would do (or not do) in the situation, often based on their past experience – not yours.

Their insight may not be what’s best for you. Of course, it’s always wise to seek advice and gather more information. As I mentioned in the previous post, it took a friend’s insight to help me make some important shifts in my own perspective.

That’s very different, however, from letting other people make your choices for you. Take what advice makes sense to you and gives you fresh ideas and leave the rest. Don’t tie any emotion or judgement to those opinions.

Above all, don’t get railroaded. Set your boundaries. We’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating. Remember, this is your life. It’s up to you to set your own boundaries so others can’t manipulate you.

Hard choices are often so because we have to communicate those choices to those we care about, who may or may not understand the reasons. If you can help them understand, do so, but all that matters is that you understand your reasons. Your reasons are good enough.

Find Out More

Are you ready to make your own choices? Need help setting boundaries? My latest book, Your Life Your Way, offers insights, tips and tactics that give you the tools you need to live your life, your way.

Want a better night’s sleep? Try The Paula Meir Sleep Hypnosis. Now with 50% off when you use the code SLEEPWELL50.

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5 Ways To Get A Better Night’s Sleep During Covid-19

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Having trouble sleeping? You are not alone. More and more people are reporting poor quality sleep during the pandemic. Coronavirus is having an indirect impact on our health, and messing about with our sleep patterns. And that isn’t surprising. Our brain is being bombarded with the kind of news, imagery, and stimulus often associated with war, and this is creating a constant low-level stress/trauma. 

 

Sleep is the time when our brain processes the day’s activities, helping us make sense of what we have seen and heard. So, if you have strange dreams, that’s why. Not only are our waking thoughts being dominated at a conscious and unconscious level by Coronavirus, but our daily routine has changed beyond recognition.

 

Given the tumultuous impact the Coronavirus has had every section of our global community, we can’t be shocked if our subconscious is having a bit of a reaction. Here are my top five tips for getting a good night’s sleep during Covid-19.

 

Watch What You Drink
Things to help you sleep. Sleep tips.

 Alcohol and caffeine are the two horses of the apocalypse when it comes to problematic sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps your brain active, while alcohol will turn off certain brain receptors responsible for getting you into deep NREM sleep. If you have a coffee at any point after midday, it will impact your ability to sleep.

While alcohol will impact your sleep no matter when you drink it (unless its as soon as you wake up, in which case you’ve got an even bigger problem!). I’m not suggesting you become teetotal, but being aware of what, when, and how much you are drinking will definitely impact your sleep.

 

Cut Out Smoking

smoking and sleep

 I know this is probably the worse possible time to try and get someone to give up smoking, but there is plenty of research showing a direct link between smoking and insomnia. If you can cut down, you will be doing yourself a huge favour, and it will have an impact on your sleep quality.

 

No Chocolate Before Bed

How chocolate affect sleep. Insomnia. Chocolate bar.

This one is my downfall. I love having a bit of chocolate in the evening. But the science is clear. Snacking on sugary stuff less than two hours before bedtime is a sure road to poor quality sleep. 

 
Try Meditation

meditation and exercise to help sleep


I promise you, this is a biggie. If you exercise and meditate regularly, you will see a dramatic shift in the quality and quantity of your sleep. You will sleep deeper, and you will find yourself waking up far more refreshed. Exercise kick-starts plenty of dopamine, and serotonin, which will contribute to a greater feeling of wellbeing and contribute to a much better night’s sleep.

 

Cut Out Screens

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As your brain gets ready to shut down for the evening, it starts producing melatonin. That’s the chemical which induces sleep. Phone screens and TVs inhibit the production of melatonin, and there’s plenty of research showing just how much screens impact sleep. So, thirty-minute before you normally go to sleep, do your brain a favour, shut it down gently with a good book. Preferably made of paper!

 

We are living through some very strange (and worrying) times, and it’s an enormous challenge to break well-established habits and routines. Sleep is the greatest gift we can give ourselves: you will find your levels and anxiety will drop, and your overall wellbeing will improve dramatically.


Want a better night’s sleep? Try The Paula Meir Sleep Hypnosis. Now with 50% off when you use the code SLEEPWELL50.