A Coaching Power Tool Created by Jacqui Ariaans
(Life Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
People who are satisfied are empowered to live a happy and balanced life. On the other hand, people who feel guilt probably feel miserable and bad.
How we think and how we judge someone or something is effecting how we perceive ourselves, others and the world around us. We believe there is a right way and a wrong way, when we judge an action as good we are satisfied, but if we judge an action as the ‘wrong way’ we will feel guilty about it.
You experience guilt because you are convinced you have done wrong (either by doing or not doing something). The thoughts cause the emotion.
If you are judging yourself for things that you believe are wrong or things you should have done, you feel guilt. The feeling of guilt follows directly from the thought that you are responsible for someone else’s misfortune. Whether or not this is really the case.
To shift perspective, you need to explore the guilt. By proving yourself wrong you realise that you are inaccurately seeing yourself as causing harm to others. Once you realise this you will be able to reframe your perspective to a more realistic point of view.
There are many definitions of satisfaction. You will find things in the dictionary like:
Fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this. -or:
Satisfaction causes a happy or pleased feeling because of something that you did or something happened to you.
The definitions about satisfaction have one thing in common. It is the outcome of the action that gives us a feeling of satisfaction. When we don’t feel satisfied with the outcome or did not undertake the action we judge it, feel bad, and feel guilt.
This feeling of guilt, related to not being satisfied of the outcome can also be found in the definition of feeling guilty. Following in the Cambridge Dictionaries the definition of guilt is:
A feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong, such as causing harm to another person.
To become satisfied we need to become conscious of our judgments of ourselves. When we are aware of the judgments we make we can start working on stopping to judge. This concerns both how we judge ourselves and how we think others judge us.
When we start believing that we do well instead of wrong and act accordingly without judging ourselves, we will start to feel our real emotions and feelings. That’s how we will know what is best for us rather than acting to what we think others think we should do. Cease the judgments, then you will be able to be satisfied.
As thoughts are causing the feeling of guilt, it is important to pay close attention to the thoughts circulating in your head in order to explore what makes you feel guilty.
To get your thoughts and feelings more clear you can write them down. A sentence that can help doing this is: ‘I feel guilty because…..’
The next step to explore is where these thoughts are coming from. Is it because you really feel they are right, or is there something or someone that is feeding this thought or feeling? For example are you feeling this way because it is something your mother always said was wrong?
The next thing is to do a reality check. Are the thoughts that are causing the guilty feeling really true?
Ask people involved in your thoughts what they really think and see if this matches your thoughts or not.
Based on the previous steps you have learned where the thoughts that make you feel guilty are coming from and whether they are true or not. With this outcome you can create a more realistic view.
For example. Nick has not visited his friend for a while and feels guilty about it. He regularly thinks that he should pay more attention to him and he judges himself as being a lousy friend.
To explore where the guilt comes from Nick starts the above exercise and writes down: ‘I feel guilty because I haven’t visited my friend for a long time, which makes me a lousy friend.’
Nick thinks about where these thoughts are coming from. His friend never mentioned anything around this. After a while he remembers feeling lonely when he was in hospital as a little boy and it was too far for his friends to come and visit him. At that time he didn’t understand it was too far and thought his friends didn’t care.
To do a reality check, Nick phones his friend and asks him if he thinks he is a lousy friend. His friend tells him he thinks the opposite. He is a great friend, although they don’t meet up on a regular basis he knows that he can always come round when needed. That’s what friends are for.
Nick now starts thinking about the situation in a different more realistic way. Okay, I haven’t contacted my friend for a while, but its fine. He understands that I was busy and knows that I am there if they needs me.
No one is perfect, so in the case of this example, if you honestly feel that you have not paid enough attention to your friend, tell him you’re sorry. Forgiveness is nothing more than giving up your judgments about something, without the need to feel guilty.
When a client feels guilt towards something or someone, we need to enable them to explore where the guilt comes from.
- What are they judging themselves for?
- Where does this judgment come from?
- Do they have the evidence that this judgment is the truth?
- What actions can they take to shift this guilt feeling, to stop judging themselves in a negative way?
Questions that can help to explore the source of the guilt might be:
- What gives you the feeling of guilt?
- Can you check if your feeling is based on reality?
- What would it look like if you were feeling satisfied?
Once the client discovered the source of the guilt we can explore with them in what way they can refrain themselves from making these judgements, create an action plan and tools that will enable them to shift away from the judgment when they need it.