Tips to Deal With Guilt and Worry

Guilt and worry are not necessarily damaging emotions. Guilt can inspire people to make amends to someone they have hurt. Worry might prevent people from making mistakes or having an accident. When these emotions take over your life and become obsessions, however, they can damage you.

Rid Yourself of Feel Guilt

  Use your guilt to improve your life. Some guilt can be healthy if it inspires you to make positive changes in your life, but too much or inappropriate guilt can become demoralizing. If a man who has been unfaithful to his wife makes a decision not to repeat his behavior, guilt has been a beneficial emotion. If a woman feels guilty over the death of a parent, even though nothing could have saved the deceased, that guilt is not appropriate.

  Deal with the negative energy that accompanies guilty feelings, leading to depression and feelings of worthlessness. Confront the action -- or lack of action -- that has provoked the feelings of guilt. Forgive yourself and ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged. Apologize to anyone you have hurt and, if possible, undo the wrong that was done. Turn your negative guilty energy into constructive behavior.

Analyze what you worry about to determine if your worry is helpful and appropriate or whether it has become obsessive, irrational and neurotic. Worry originates with fear that sees negative outcomes in even harmless activities and leaves the worrier feeling vulnerable and helpless. Worry can become a vicious circle, for example, when an insomniac is concerned about not getting enough sleep and lies awake all night worrying.
Practice dismissing worrying ideas by turning off thoughts that are clearly needless and by focusing on positive, rather than negative, outcomes. Face your worries and take action to ward them off. Worried that heavy traffic will keep you from catching your plane? Check the airline to see if your plane is delayed and whether seats are available for a later flight.
Set aside a time every day for concentrated worry, possibly over morning coffee. Do your worrying then and spend the rest of the day worry-free. When a worry pops up during the day, make a mental appointment to think of it later. Remember Scarlett O'Hara's "I'll think about it tomorrow."
Be aware that worry might be misdirected need for control. Recognize that not every eventuality can be controlled and that what will be, will be. Stay in the moment instead of projecting into future disasters. Try meditation, get more exercise, dance or practice yoga. Listen to music or watch a funny movie. Keep a record of your worries and how you responded.