Too many people live in a state of constant guilt. They feel guilty if they spend a cent on themselves. They feel guilty if they are not constantly at the beck and call of someone else. They feel guilty if anything goes wrong in the life of any of their loved ones, because, somehow, they should have prevented it. Sometimes it seems as though they feel guilt just because they exist! Others feel guilty because their behavior and their values are frequently at odds. Here are some reassurances and ways to plan ahead so as to not feel guilty.

1. If you don't want others to know about something you are about to do, then that is a signal that you are ashamed of it.
Solution - don't do it.

2. Understand that you are as worthy of care and attention as anyone else, and it is not wrong to nurture yourself.
Whether it is taking time for yourself, spending money on yourself, or eating good chocolate as you take a bubble bath, you are entitled, and you do not need to feel guilty. The edict from the Bible says "Love your neighbor AS yourself, not MORE THAN yourself."

3. Examine your motives.
Why are you contemplating a particular action? If you will eventually need to explain to anyone else why you did it, will you be willing to be honest about it? If not - don't do it.

4. Set your own values according to what you believe.
When we are very young and do not know right from wrong we need to learn values from someone. As we grow older, we need to develop our own values, according to our beliefs. It may be that those values will be the same as the ones were given when young. Or not. What is important is that we have examined them, and made our own choices.

5. Identify and dismiss your judges.
Most people who suffer from unnecessary guilt do so because there is a little judge sitting (metaphorically) on their shoulders. It may be the voice of an angry parent, a judgmental teacher, a mocking older sister, or someone else who judged you when you were young and not old enough to have developed your own values and conscience. Understand that you are now old enough to make your own decisions, to decide on your own values. When your behavior is based on your own decisions and you hear the judge whispering guilt into your ear, smile, turn your head, whisper "Goodbye," and gently blow the judge off your shoulder. This ritual will help you to become aware that the judge's values are not necessarily your values.

6. Understand that you have done the best you could with the tools that you thought you had.
You could do no more. If you now realize that it was not enough, reach out to get some more tools, tools to help you become more of who you really want to be, to help you do what is right. The only way to make right the past is to make right the future.

7. Integrate yourself, do not live different lives, or be different people, in different settings.
A person who is one person at work and lives according to completely different values at home, or who splits life up in other ways, lives in fear of being found out and cannot always live according to his/her true values. We need to find our own deep foundation, and use this to support all aspects of our lives.

8. Imagine that the entire world hangs in the balance between good and evil, and that your action will swing the balance in one direction or the other.

9. If you are still in doubt, talk with someone you trust, NOT with someone who will advise you to do what they think you want to do.

10. Ask yourself if this is the behavior you would want your grandchildren to know you by.
If you still have any doubts about whether or not it is right to do something, ask yourself this question. The answer will be your guide.

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Submitted by Diana Robinson, Ph.D., who can be reached at, or visited on the web at