A Coaching Power Tool Created by Jitendra Kumar Joshi
(Life Coaching, India)
Guilt is the source of sorrows; ’tis the fiend, the avenging fiend that follows us behind with whips and stings. ~ NICHOLAS ROWE, The Fair Penitent
Guilt is a very uncomfortable feeling which keeps you out of the moment from where you are. Webster dictionary defines it as
the fact or state of having committed an offense, or wrong against moral or penal law.
It is an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes (accurately or not) that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is the anger directed at ourselves – at what we did or did not do. It is an urge to condemn ourselves and most of the times it becomes an ultimate protection for changelessness. When this hits you, your energy is completely tied up in knots and you feel unworthy and miserable.
Feeling Guilty is not an authentic emotion but a conditioned response. For example many parents use guilt as a tool to condition children to behave as expected. Normally a child does not “feel guilty” until someone tells him/her that he/she has offended someone or hurt someone’s so called “feelings.” Guilt is caused when people start judging themselves against some rules or beliefs they think they need to follow. They start thinking that they have done something wrong when they break these rules.
It is astounding to realize how much we cling to our guilt. When we allow too much of our time to be spent feeling guilty, time slips away. We lose our sense of how we are in the present moment. When we develop a habit of feeling guilty about our actions, we lose sense of our potential.
So, we need to prevent guilt from dragging us down and out. We can get back in by letting it go. When we are able to say goodbye to guilt, we can preserve our time for our most important work and the most important people in our lives and the things that mean the most to us.
As coaches we will be more effective when we have peace within. We might have moments of guilt feeling hijacking our emotions, but the key here is recognizing them quickly and getting rid of them before they turn into limiting beliefs. The more self-awareness we have about ourselves the easier it will be for us to recognize these feelings and stop them from settling into our minds.
Clients may have guilt for something they did, they didn’t do but wanted to do or they couldn’t do enough etc. Sometime they may be conscious about it or sometimes they may have ignored and may have turned it into limiting belief. As coaches we need to help them recognize and identify what feeling of guilt it is, where did it come from, how it is impacting them, how would it feel when they are free of this feeling, how can they let it go and how much they could achieve when they let it go.
As a coach we need to help them shift their perspective from being constrained to feeling liberated and from being controlled to being in control.
Here are a few questions which can help clients to uncover and unburden them from the feeling of guilt;
- Are there any other feelings you are not in touch with because of which you have this feeling of guilt ?
- How is the feeling of guilt impacting your life ?
- How would you feel when you are free from this feeling ?
- What possibilities you will have if you are free from this feeling ?
- What would you do now to let go the feeling of guilt ?