December 4, 2022


Capturing Magic Moments

9 ways to stop feeling guilty when you haven’t done anything wrong

6 min read

You know you did nothing wrong – and yet you feel guilty.

Did you find yourself in this position?

Don’t worry, many people feel unnecessarily guilty and ashamed.

To help you figure out why this happens and what you can do about it, in this post we break down the ins and outs of feeling guilty when you haven’t done anything wrong.

Why do I feel guilty for something I didn’t do?

Ask yourself, “Why do I always feel like I’ve done something wrong?” Several factors could be at play.

You are conflict avoidant

Are you conflict avoidant? Do you run in the opposite direction when the confrontation rears its ugly head?

Many people in this category often absorb the emotions of the people they argue with. A psychologist could explain the details, but suffice it to say that for whatever reason, the act of arguing inspires guilt.

Suppose you and a friend got into an argument one day and didn’t resolve the issue. The next day, they are badly injured in a car accident and they have never been able to reconcile.

Experiencing such a traumatic event can cause you to develop a conflict issue, and you can forever associate guilt with confrontation.

You are a people pleaser

Many people—especially women—are brought up to “please people.” Instead of considering their feelings, emotions, and realities, they are taught to prioritize everyone else.

Unfortunately, people who please tend to feel guilty when they don’t get praise from those they’re trying to please.

They have “negative” brain grooves

Suppose you are dwelling on the past, replaying the same old bad memories in your head, or trying to find something to feel guilty about.

In these cases, your neural pathways can go negative thanks to a phenomenon called neuroplasticity.

It’s a complicated scientific concept. But in layman’s terms, it means your brain’s ability to change. Sometimes the change is good. But if you always have negative thoughts, these neural pathways will be strengthened.

The good news is that you can reverse this with a little cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness work.

You have low self-confidence

Low confidence is like an addictive drug; it messes up your brain chemistry and distorts reality.

As a result, people with low self-esteem often pretend to be the culprit.

9 ways to stop feeling guilty when you haven’t done anything wrong

You understand why you may feel guilty at inappropriate times. Now let’s examine how you can give yourself a break and change this behavior.

1. Recognize your triggers

Going to therapy is so common these days that it’s easy to forget that 15 years ago mental health was a taboo subject.

Thankfully, therapy is now mainstream, and it’s never been easier to connect with psychologists, psychiatrists, and coaches who can help you navigate aspects of your life.

Woman frustrated in car how to stop feeling guilty when you did nothing wrong

Yet many people remain oblivious to their own triggers. Not only were they never taught to nurture their sanity, but they may have been encouraged to bury their feelings at all costs.

If this sounds like you, step one is figuring out why you feel guilty. Is it rational or rooted in some ridiculous cultural holdover from a bygone era? Next, consider whether it is a pattern. Do the same things trigger you? Why do you think this is?

Once you figure out why certain things make you feel certain ways, you’ll be able to better regulate your reactions when faced with those issues.

2. Accept your limitations of influence

No matter how much we want to “save” destructive loved ones from themselves, sometimes people cannot be a force for change among people who don’t recognize their flaws and mistakes.

If your guilt is related to people who can’t see their shortcomings, learning to accept your limitations in order to influence them can be of great help.

Once you acknowledge that you can’t change people and realize that it’s the other person’s problem, not yours, self-guilt will go away—or at least lessen.

3. Spend less time with people who make you feel bad

Does a certain person make you poop? Have you tried unsuccessfully to talk to them about the situation?

There is a saying that people land in our lives for a specific reason and season. And maybe that time is over with the person who makes you feel guilty.

Think about the relationship in question. Is it worth repairing? If yes, try it. Otherwise, just stop hanging out with people who make you feel awful. Life is too short – or too long – depending on how you see it.

But there is a caveat. Namely, make sure you’re not the problematic denominator. Are you the one lugging around a full bag – crammed with unresolved trauma and blind spots?

Those who have not learned self-awareness often blame others instead of acknowledging and working on their problems.

woman at home feeling guilty about nothing how to stop feeling guilty when you have done nothing wrong

As hard as it may be to admit that you are one of those people, it’s worth it. If you do the work, you will emerge as an emotional superhero.

Otherwise, you’ll spend your life banishing good people when in fact you’re the one who could use making some behavior changes.

4. Practice mindfulness

You should never feel guilty about things that are out of your control. That’s a given. But you can change how you respond to people trying to make you feel this way, which will reduce mental stress.

Mindfulness is the art of living in the present. Incorporating the tools and tactics into your daily routine can significantly change the way you see and interact with the world.

5. Release judgement

Basically, humans are built to judge. After all, we are driven by a survival instinct. But judgment can get out of control and become more of a hindrance than a help.

When dealing with judgment, it’s common to feel anxious and guilty. You will not only be more critical of others, but also of yourself.

Learning to break free from the prison of excessive judgment is difficult and takes time. But sticking with it brings significant mental rewards, including a significant decrease in guilt.

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6. Practice self-care

Conveniently, mental clarity is a symptom of self-care. And when you have that, you’ll be better able to separate what’s really important and what’s not.

Clarity gives you emotional control, and emotional control protects you from uploading unnecessary guilt.

7. Talk to the person

Every single person on this planet is complicated – including the current company. People are also a lot less self-aware than we like to think, and we misinterpret people’s true feelings half the time.

What does it all amount to? A ton of misunderstandings.

Man on the phone feels indifferent How to stop feeling guilty when you haven't done anything wrong

So it’s always wise to try to work things out – especially if the person in question is a close friend or family member.

Most people are unaware when they are making someone feel like shit, and a simple conversation can solve the problem instantly.

8. Eat well and exercise

You’ve heard it a million times because it works: Good nutrition and daily exercise keep your mind and body happy and healthy. Continue. roll your eyes You are definitely not alone.

But once you’re done, do yourself a favor and give it a try. Do a 30- or 60-day self-challenge of eating at least three healthy things a day and exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week.

The first week will be tough, but once day eight is over, you’ll start to feel (and see) the benefits.

How does good food and exercise relate to undue guilt? People who feel good enjoy more self-confidence.

And people with healthy self-esteem are less likely to take other people’s luggage with them and less likely to feel shame or guilt when they haven’t done anything wrong.

9. Forgive yourself

Maybe you’ve done something wrong in the past, and that’s why you feel guilty about certain things at inappropriate times. You may have learned a lesson but still carry guilt about your past behavior.

It’s easier to forgive people we love than ourselves—especially when you can’t even face what you feel guilty about. But doing this challenging work will free you and allow you to shed the shame you may still carry around.

last thought

We hope we’ve helped you answer the question: Why do I feel so guilty? It is possible to relieve this emotional burden. Try the tips above; Keep what works and discard the rest.

Keep at it, and in time you will stop being a guilt sponge – and be a happier, healthier person in return!

There are times when you feel guilty for something you didn't do.  This is how you stop feeling guilty when you haven't done anything wrong.

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