Breaking Up With Guilt

Focus Area: Remove Your Obstacles

Have you ever been so fed up with an emotion that you just want to call it “quits” and rid yourself of it forever?  You consistently ask yourself, why do I keep this around as if it’s my BFF?  For many, guilt is that emotion.  Guilt makes us feel like our best intentions aren’t good enough and everyone else’s opinions of us matter.  We feel as if the world is going to end if someone is displeased with us.  If this emotion produces so much turmoil, why do we keep it around? 

Why DO we keep guilt around?

People hold on to guilt for various reasons.  Among those are: an overly caring personality, parents or teachers who instilled unhealthy guilt, or an inaccurate understanding of God’s love. When we are overly caring, it is difficult to set proper boundaries.  If we were taught this behavior as a child, we conclude it is the natural way of feeling.  And if we don’t truly understand God’s love, we may misinterpret conviction.    

Let’s examine each a little closer, breaking them down by different personalities. 

The “but I can’t let them down” personality

It’s a double edge sword when we care too much.  Not only do we care about the people in our lives and want to see them happy, we care about their perception of us.  We translate a “no” or a “not now” to their request as a letdown.   It is super uncomfortable, and we fear hurting feelings, as well as the loss of friendships/relationships.  We also fear, they may look at us as being selfish or not a team player. 

The “but that’s all I’ve ever known” personality

For some of us, this is rooted in our upbringing.  We were consistently told it’s better to give than receive.  We were taught to share EVERYTHING.  We were convinced that our time truly does not belong to us but to school/homework, chores, church, etc.  And while all these things on some level are true, they failed to communicate the art of balancing self-love with loving others.

The “but God has convicted me, so I must be wrong” personality

This one is huge.  God trumps everything, right?  Our parents, our teachers, and most importantly our feelings.  If God says it’s wrong, then it must be wrong.  Yes, this is absolutely true, but what happens when we have a misguided understanding of God’s conviction?   What do we do when our guilty conscience perceives God’s Word as condemnation?  We know God doesn’t condemn, but our feelings tell us otherwise. 

Do you see similarities with these different mindsets?  They stem from either lack of boundary setting, lack of proper education or a little bit of both. 

Create Your Breakup Strategy

Are you excited to start this breakup journey?  You should! Our lives are too valuable to be hindered by such a useless emotion.  Jesus defeated guilt and so can we!

Before you go any further, you need to make a commitment to stay the course no matter what.  Remember, guilt’s number one job is to make you feel guilty, and this most certainly will happen during a breakup.  

To begin, think of or write down all the ways guilt has mistreated and misguided you.  This gives you the motivation and courage to break up.

Next, by way of a letter or using the empty chair technique, tell guilt how you really feel and why you no longer need it in your life. 

Once you’ve released ALL your emotions, it’s time to call it “quits!”  Do so with confidence and conviction so guilt can know you mean business. 

Now, give yourself a pat on the back for accomplishing such a massive task, and let the healing process begin.  Keep unhealthy guilt out of your life by practicing boundary setting. Tell yourself, “I matter.”  Pray and ask God to give you a healthy look into His Word. 

Last, but not least, go and enjoy life! 

As you complete this journey, remember, some form of guilt is actually a good thing.  It is caring and responsible to feel bad for a hurt you caused or a missed responsibility.  It is when this guilt lingers that it becomes unhealthy. 

Let us know some of the strategic ways you decided to “break up” with guilt.


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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice.  If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger, use these resources to obtain immediate help.

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