Well and Good – 10 Actionable Tips For How To Stop Feeling Guilty About Things You Can’t Even Change

Dealing with guilt isn’t easy. While it can be a motivating and useful emotion, guilt can also linger well past what is reasonable and helpful, and leave us ruminating about things we can’t control, rather than the things we can. With so much of guilt stemming from unmet expectations, taking control of where our responsibility lies, and what we can change, is key to keeping it useful.

Well and Good asked me to join other experts in sharing best strategies for managing this thorny emotion, and I was very pleased to weigh in.  To read the full post, CLICK HERE.


Case in point: Feeling guilty because you broke your diet, didn’t fold the laundry when you told yourself you would, or actually made time for yourself. “Most people tend to feel guilty even if they haven’t done anything wrong because they have higher expectations for themselves,” says Thea Gallagher, PsyD. “They somehow feel that they’re letting themselves down when they don’t meet those expectations.” And licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, PsyD, author of Hack Your Anxiety, says these expectations are often born from rules and standards fostered while growing up (read: they’re deep-seated).

Focus on the great things you do

Most people have a negativity bias, meaning they prioritize negative situations and consequences in an effort to avoid harm and pain, Dr. Clark says. But focusing on the positives in your life can help neutralize this, which can in turn ease anxiety and guilt.

So, challenge yourself to balance out every critical or guilty thought with a positive one. For example, if you feel guilty that you were late to your friend’s play, follow up the thought by reminding yourself you still showed up to support her, and that’s great.

Posted in ,

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD