Self-Forgiveness & Overcoming Guilt

by

guiltWe’ve all done things we regret, but some of us ruminate and punish ourselves with guilt unnecessarily. A little guilt is good. Yes! Guilt actually encourages people to have more empathy for others, to take corrective action, and to improve themselves. Self-forgiveness following guilt is essential to maintain self-esteem, which is key to the enjoyment of life and relationships.

Yet, for many, self-acceptance remains elusive because of unhealthy guilt – sometimes for decades or a lifetime. Guilt may be an unrelenting source of pain. You might believe that you should feel guilty and condemn yourself, not once, but over and over.

Alternatively, guilt may simmer in your unconscious and impact your choices and behavior. Either way, this kind of guilt is insidious and self-destructive and can sabotage your goals. Guilt causes anger and resentment, not only at yourself, but also toward others in order to justify your actions. Anger, resentment, and guilt sap your energy, cause depression and illness and stop you from having success, pleasure, and fulfilling relationships. It keeps you stuck in the past and prevents you from moving forward.

Irrational Guilt

You may feel guilty not only for your actions, but also thoughts: For instance, wishing someone pain, misfortune, or even death; or for feelings, like anger, lust, or greed; or lack of feelings, such as not reciprocating love or friendship, or not feeling grief over the loss of someone close. Although irrational, you might feel guilty for the thoughts, attributes, feelings, and actions of someone else. It’s not unusual for people to feel guilty for leaving their faith or not meeting the expectations of their parents.

People often judge themselves based upon the blame or false accusations emanating from others, which they believe to be true. For example, a woman projects her self-centeredness onto her husband and accuses him of being selfish. He believes it, not realizing it is she who is selfish (attribute). She might blame her insecurity (feeling) on him, claiming he’s flirting, uncaring, or indifferent. A man might blame his anger (feeling) or mistake (action) on his partner, and she wrongly assumes responsibility and feels guilty.

It’s common for codependents to take the blame for others’ behavior, because of weak boundaries and low self-esteem. A spouse might accept her husband’s blame and feel guilty for his drinking or addiction. Victims of abuse or sexual assault frequently feel guilt and shame, despite the fact that they were victims and it’s the perpetrator that is culpable. When it comes to divorce, those initiating it often feel guilty, even though responsibility for their marital problem is shared or was primarily due to their partner.

Shame Distinguished

Guilt should be distinguished from shame, where you feel inferior, inadequate, or bad about who you are versus what you did. When irrational and not absolved, guilt can lead to shame. Shame isn’t constructive. Instead of enhancing empathy and self-improvement, it has the opposite effect. It leads to greater self-preoccupation and undermines both the self and relationships.

How to Forgive Yourself

If you already have low self-esteem or have issues around shame (most people do), it may be difficult to concentrate on what it is you feel guilty about. However, this is necessary in order to get past it. Rationalizing or brushing it under the rug to avoid self-examination may help temporarily, but not achieve self-forgiveness. Alternatively, beating yourself up prolongs guilt and shame and damages your self-esteem; while, accepting responsibility and taking remedial action improves it. Here are suggested steps you can take. I refer to actions, but they apply equally to thoughts or feelings you feel guilty about:

1. If you’ve been rationalizing your actions, take responsibility. “Okay, I did (or said) it.”

2. Write a story about what happened, including how you felt about yourself and others involved before, during, and after.

3. Analyze what were your needs at that time, and were they being met. If not, why not?

4. What were your motives? What or who was the catalyst for your behavior?

5. Does the catalyst remind you of something from your past? Write a story about it, and include dialogue and your feelings.

6. How were your feelings and mistakes handled growing up? Were they forgiven, judged, or punished? Who was hard on you? Were you made to feel ashamed?

7. Evaluate the values, beliefs, and standards by which you’re judging yourself. Are they yours, your parents’, your friends’, your spouse’s, or those of your faith? Do you need their approval? It’s pointless to try to live up to someone else’s expectations. Others’ desires and values have more to do with them. They may never approve, or you may sacrifice yourself and your happiness seeking approval.

8. Identify the values and beliefs that in fact governed you during the event? For example, “Adultery is okay if my spouse never finds out.” Be honest, and decide which values you agree with.

9. Did your actions reflect your true values? If not, trace your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions that led to your actions. Think about what may have led you to abandon your values? Notice that you hurt yourself when you violate your values. This actually causes more harm than disappointing someone else.

10. How did your actions affect you and others? Whom did you hurt? Include yourself on the list.

11. Think of ways to make amends? Take action, and make them. For example, if the person is dead, you can write a letter of apology. You can also decide to act differently in the future.

12. Looking back, what healthier beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions would have led to a more desirable result?

13. Do you expect perfection? Has this improved your overall well-being? Perfection is illusory and a manifestation of underlying shame.

14. Would you forgive someone else for the same actions? Why would you treat yourself differently? How does it benefit you to continue to punish yourself?

15. Remorse is healthy and leads to corrective action. Think about what you’ve learned from your experience and how you might act differently today.

16. Write yourself an empathic letter of understanding, appreciation, and forgiveness.

17. Self-talk is powerful. Beware if yours is negative. On a daily basis, repeat words of kindness and forgiveness from your letter, such as, “I’m innocent,” “I forgive myself,” and “I love myself.” Listen to my Self-Love Meditation.

18. Share honestly with others what you did. Don’t share with those who might judge you. If appropriate, talk about what happened in a 12-Step group. Secrecy prolongs guilt and shame.

Realize that you can forgive yourself and still believe you were at fault, just as you might forgive someone else even though you think the person was in the wrong. You can regret what you did, yet accept that you’re human and make mistakes. Perhaps, you did your best, given your circumstances, awareness, maturity, and experience at the time. This is a healthy, humble attitude.

If you continue to have difficulties with self-forgiveness, I recommend my ebook, Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness.  If you’re suffering from shame, which predisposes you to self-loathing and feeling bad about yourself, it’s helpful to see a counselor. See also my blogs on self-nurturing and self-love and my ebook,  10 Steps to Self Esteem to build your self-esteem.
©Darlene Lancer 2013

 

 

 

Share with friends
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

485 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Morag
Morag
7 months ago

Trying to escape his grief my ex cheated on me and left me for the other woman. I knew he was grieving but I was really hurt and so I created a fake social media persona and secretly got between them, they broke up but I continued to hound him. He would confide in the persona I created, who was a beautiful young, sexy and empathic woman and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about him. When he was completely hooked I used everything he told me to take him down piece by piece until he was a complete wreck and I’d destroyed his reputation in the process. I had my revenge in a very cruel way and he never knew it was me. I’m so ashamed.

Tiar
Tiar
7 months ago

After continuous persuasion from my mom, I told her secrets about my sister. I did this out of spite because I was feeling frustrated and angry at how my sister had been treating me. As soon as the secrets had left my lips, I felt ashamed and disgusted at violating my sister’s trust. My mom did say that she would never repeat what was said to her but I know that this will change our family dynamics forever. My mom will use this knowledge to justify her controlling, overbearing and strict parenting.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

Thank you for this post. I realized that I cheated on my ex multiple times. We broke up, but he never found out about my deception. It was my first relationship, and there were major violations of trust on his end in the first several months of dating.

However, I realize now that I didn’t need to take the dirty route and should have either put my foot down or left. When I was honest about my feelings, I was shut down, and I knew he was pressuring me into a kind of arrangement that I didn’t want. I was afraid of losing both his love, and control of my life (he is significantly older than I am).

How can I best move forward?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Do the exercises outlined in this blog to find self-compassion. Listen to my self-compassion meditation, and perhaps get counseling to get to the root of your guilt.

hurt and bothered
hurt and bothered
9 months ago

I crossed a line in my marriage by inappropriately chatting with a male friend. I came clean to my spouse, ceased all contact and he has forgiven me. In the past he had a sexual affair with a friend he pushed me to know, We have healed from that. There has been hurt on both sides with me being the most recent betrayer. We are closer than ever and have a marriage with NO SECRETS now. Other things were found out on both side and forgiven on both sides. We both love each other deeply are are committed to being better spouses and express our forgiveness often and give the other reassurance. How do I let go of my guilt for the immoral things I did

....
....
9 months ago

some back story – we each had a traumatic childhood and adopted many toxic/negative coping mechanisms. During the time I had that conversation with the other male. My husband was denying me, unwilling to work on us, unwilling to compromise, grow or be emotionally vulnerable. I was trying and pushing him away with my attempts to being us closer. We have acknowledged this and dug deep to understand why we behaved the way we did and have a greater understanding of ourselves and each other. Our love is strong and deep, but I still feel immense guilt with my actions. I know I will not make that same mistake ever again but what I did eats me up 🙁

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
9 months ago
Reply to  ....

Do the exercises here and in my ebook, Freedom from Guilt. If still insufficient, seek therapy to understand the deeper reasons why you behaved as you did and find self-compassion. Also, see my blogs on that and my Self-Love Meditation.

Meredith
Meredith
9 months ago

Hi, I feel so bad. My ex boyfriend broke up with me some months ago. Then he came back saying that he regretted breaking up with me. I felt so hurt but wanted him back as well. Basically, In a week I played back and forth the I want you and don’t want you which hurt him badly. I wasn’t sure if we could be together, things were just different. I feel like I deserve everything bad for this. I really didn’t want to hurt him, my heart intentions were pure but I just didn’t feel the same. How can I cope with the fact that I hurt him?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
9 months ago
Reply to  Meredith

You can empathize without feeling guilty. Regret is different than guilt also. We’re responsible for our actions, not other people’s feelings. Seems like he hurt you too, and you couldn’t forgive him. So why is his hurt more important than yours? Heal from Codependency and learn to value your feelings and have boundaries.

John
John
10 months ago

A friend of mine recently got fired from his job due to sexual molestation. He flirted with his former colleague and the 2 of them were enjoying it until another colleague saw them. She quickly turned the whole thing on my friend that he harassed her and eventually he got sacked. This has got my friend worried because he is concerned about his career if this will not be used against him in the future like in politics or senior position. The guilt he is feeling within himself is becoming too much and I fear if he is not gonna commit suicide. He hardly focuses on anything again now. He feels like his career is shattered. Please what can he do?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
10 months ago
Reply to  John

Hi should speak with an employment lawyer to learn his rights and remedies. He can also do the exercises on this blog and read my ebook

Isis
Isis
1 year ago

While me & my ex were broke up I had sex with a close mutual friend between us. Trying to get over the heart break but it didn’t work so I stopped sex with the mutual friend. We both decided to take this secret to the grave & now we’re just back to being just friends. Now 2 years later, I’m back with the ex & I just feel so guilty. I can’t tell him because I know he’ll break up with me for good. How do I move past this? I just feel like this worst person ever.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Isis

Your situation is not uncommon. You need to find a solution. See my blog, “Secrets and Lies” and do the steps in my ebook, Freedom from Guilt.

dimyan
dimyan
1 year ago

hi dr. i recently did bad thing in my families. i argue over freedom, (sleep over at friends), my father according to parenting he is very strict and old school. so that day i tried to find smting to harm them without hurting their health so as i watched in film I put my poop&(urine) in the boiling soup so that.. thinking the boiling pressure kill any bacteria in it.. and that i can get my revenge too so as a result nobody was hurt in any way but i ws burned inside start to get ashamed of what i did and i confess to all family and get mercy but i cant get to fully forgive myself. i think its a matter of violating VALUE plz i need good one.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  dimyan

You have a lot of unexpressed anger toward your parents. Instead of acting out in self-destructive ways, forgive yourself by taking steps toward greater autonomy and learn to stand up to your father in healthy ways. Seek therapy to help you.

Dr Zaib abbas
Dr Zaib abbas
1 year ago

Hi,
I feel extreme guilt over the fact that I did not help my sister after her C. section and post partum depression..She was mentally and physically hurting and I did nothing to help cause I was too busy with my job.She eventually had to be hospitalized for a week after having a nervous breakdown.I was basically too scared to ask for any time off from work to help my sister.I hate my selfish and cowradly behaviour.My sister and I are still very close but I can not get over the fact that I let down her trust in me.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Dr Zaib abbas

You would benefit from the exercises in my ebook. If not, seek counseling to find peace.

Bria
Bria
1 year ago

Please help….I just said something so rude and disrespectful in my virtual school and I feel like I deserve to die for making my poor teacher feel that way. I’m a terrible person who doesn’t deserve to get an education.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Bria

Guilt is a healthy emotion as in your case where you have empathy for your teacher. What is unhealthy is your self-shaming. Empower yourself and say something like, “I apologize for the disrespectful, hurtful things I said.”

Ganesh
Ganesh
1 year ago

Thank you so much for that! I really loved this. I was really feeling so down. Honestly i want to forgive myself. I will definitely forgive anyone who just understands their fault. So I will forgive myself.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

Hi..I hurt my mother a couple of times emotionally, to the point of her crying, due to me overreacting about cleanliness issues, when I’d spend one month a year with my parents during 2012 – 2017. My pet peeve was about mother not keeping the house clean. I would clean up the entire big place but I’d occasionally overreact, too.
I could never apologize to her in words. This was not common in my community.
Mother was affected by dementia 3 and half years ago. Although I have been really helpful, since last September I’ve been feeling from time to time overwhelmed by guilt when I recall those fleeting incidents.
Thanks for your advice..

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Ben

I’m sure you have legitimate reasons for your anger. You need to uncover and accept them. Do the exercises in this blog and in my ebook. If not helpful, consider counseling to help you accept your mother.

J
J
1 year ago

Dear Mrs. Lancer,
although I understand it intellectually, sometimes there is still this sense of shame that washes over me.
Recently I experienced a separation with my partner, and I blamed myself a lot. I remember many of my toxicity in the relationship, for example being overly emotional, defensive and got hurt due to some criticisms. I seek many reassurance as well.
I know that my need of sharing a deeper emotional connection didn’t meet in the relationship, but I wasn’t sure whether my need was just too unrealistic. How can I forgive mself, knowing that I was the one who drove the person away, because of my own insecurities?
Thank you,
J

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  J

It sounds like you need help in understanding and recovering from codependency, but that the dynamics in the relationship were a big part of the problem. Read Codependency for Dummies and my blogs on relationships. Attend Coda and consider counseling for more understanding and help.

Pratik
Pratik
1 year ago

I had a 3 month relationship after my brokeup with my ex gf after few months she came bck to me nd I broke up with the other girl to get In with my ex without telling her Abt that 3 month relationship she just found out by instagram I’d of mine Abt it nd I lie with her she got broken first time in whole life she cried alot nd I feel so guilty Abt it…how could I b like this I don’t know wht happened to me at that time we were from 5 years together nd I miss judge her it was all my mistakes now I cnt forgive my self ??I’m just broken inside totally

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Pratik

Do the steps suggested in the blog and in my ebook on Finding Self-Forgiveness. You were deceptive with two women. Rather than punish yourself, consider your values, your fears and motivations for why you did that. Grow from your mistakes and practice self-compassion. Life can be a stern teacher.

oasky
oasky
1 year ago

Hi, I’m 22 and dating my girlfriend for the last 7 years in a long distance relationship. We meet one a year and during this time i always felt strong affection for her. However we argued through many ugly stuffs and I was always the one who made mistakes and messed everything up. Very recently, I have flirting with my workmate and she was coincidently read it. I caused so much pain for her by now but I have never wanted to cheat on my loyal girlfriend. No one can ever replace her. She decided to leave because I’m not loyal to her. I really want to kill myself for being the type of person that I hate the most.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  oasky

Having a committed relationship exclusive from the age of 15 is unusual and didn’t allow you the chance to mature and experience dating relationships. Plus, it appears there were issues that went unaddressed in the relationship, likely due to immaturity or other issues. Seek counseling to understand yourself and gain better relationship skills. The flirting was no accident in a long-distance relationship that shouldn’t have lasted 7 years to begin with. Find out why you stayed so long!

Carlton Hanson
Carlton Hanson
1 year ago

I am writing for a friend of mine, Carlton. I am very worried about both him and his wife, Charlotte. Carlton resently left Charlotte, recently meaning the last 3 months or so for another woman. We live in a small town and I fear that once it becomes public about his affair he will face terrible shame. It is a surprise to the few of us who know of the affair. His wife, Charlotte adored her husband, Carlton. It is my understanding divorce papers have been filed. I do not know which of them filed for divorce. I feel this couple, my friends got off track and need to realize what all they have together. I worry about my friend, Carlton.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Carlton Hanson

Affairs don’t just happen. They reflect deeper problems in the marriage and individuals you likely did not know about.

Berny
Berny
1 year ago

Greetings Miss Darlene. My problem here is troubling…
When I was on my 20, I gave sexting a chance and encountered a cute girl who said she was 13. I thought she was role playing and went on to sext, sharing nudes and all. When we finished, she revealed to me she was actually 13. After saying goodbye I deleted my account permanently and didn’t do anymore sexting. The guilt was eating me but after sometime I managed with it, but now it came back and stronger. I don’t know what do and I am scare if I talk to someone they will label me a pedophile… I am not a monster and very well known to be a good person and I don’t want to hurt anyone.

Life_Struggler
Life_Struggler
1 year ago
Reply to  Berny

I don’t think you’re a paedophile. It sounds like you’re a very mature and sensible person, having learnt a lot from your experience – in ways which would not have been possible if you had never made the incorrect decision to sext.

Everybody sometimes makes the wrong decision – it is part of what makes us human.

I don’t know your life circumstances, but I’m sure unfortunate childhood experiences will have played their part. So you have coped well in life given the difficulties you have had to struggle with.

The 13-year-old girl too will have developed in ways which wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

Good luck!

Lindsay
Lindsay
2 years ago

I drank alcohol – several beers – at 8 weeks pregnant. I am broken over this and don’t know how I will ever be able to forgive myself. I’m so scared I have harmed my child, this gift from God.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay

Talk to your doctor. Many children are born without any defects. Also, defects occur when moms are sober too!

tami saghafi
tami saghafi
2 years ago

Hi, i am a divorced woman raising 2 kids on my own. I can’t stop feeling guilty when I called the police on my ex 6 years ago when he almost got violent. I had lived with him for 12 years and we always fought over his drinking problems and never were doing well financially until he left. He stayed in jail for 3 days and with the restraining order , he stayed at his business. He was happy to be away and a year later the divorce was final. Now he has lost the business, is homeless and having CHF. I feel if I had been more patient with him, he wouldn’t be in this situation, but what kind of examples I would give my kids? Please advise.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  tami saghafi

You must attend Al-Anon meetings. There you’ll learn that someone’s addiction has nothing to do with you. Read my “14 Tips for Letting Go,” and the 3 C’s. You didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. He’s suffering the consequences of his addiction. If you were patient, you might now feel guilty for enablinghim.

RAHUL JADHAV
RAHUL JADHAV
3 years ago

Hi Darlene,
There was this one time when I lied about something which I’d never achieved to my friends. This is something which is bogging me down and making me low on confidence

Mars
Mars
3 years ago

It’s fascinating how the things written about on this wall have been committed by a large number of people in our modern world, yet a minorty (us who are posting) battle the excruciating pain of feeling bad about our actions. Some people wake up the next morning unwounded and go about their day and ironically have more chance of improving and becoming better people because they learn and move on but don’t care too much.

Heartbroken
Heartbroken
3 years ago

Hello,
Firstly your a gem for responding to everyone.
I was with the love of my life for 3.5 years and I was SOOOO happy, and then something changed. He wasnt making me happy anymore. I tried talking to him so many times but he wasnt interested in listening. I cheated on him and left him for someone else. I am still with that person and I feel sick to my stomach every single day for what I did This new man is so amazing to me & I dont deserve it. Will I ever get over this? Even though he didnt listen to me or try fix things, he would never ever do to me what I did to him. I feel i have no morals, loyalty and I am the shittest person ever.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Heartbroken

There’s no quick answer to your question. I have worked with people who have cheated and had affairs in a marriage, and they can get past the guilt and shame, but it takes work and there are concrete steps to doing that. Did you do he exercises in the blog? Also see my ebook: Freedom from Guilt

MELANIE BROWN
MELANIE BROWN
3 years ago
Reply to  Heartbroken

IT’S NOT LIKE YOU DIDN’T TRY SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPENED TO ME I LEFT MY HUSBAND OF 20 YRS FOR SOMEONE ELSE I MET WORST OF ALL IT WAS ONE OF HIS FRIENDS BUT GUILT OVERCAME ME AND I WENT BACK NOW I AM LIVING AN UNHAPPY LIFE YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW AND IT’S HARD NOT TO FEEL GUILTY RIGHT I GET THAT BUT YOU WEREN’T DOING THE OTHER MAN ANY FAVORS BY STAYING WITH HIM TO MAKE HIM HAPPY HE WILL GET OVER IT WORRY ABOUT YOUR ON HAPPINESS FIRST AS SELFISH AS THAT SOUNDS YOU NEED TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR HAPPINESS SO U NEED TO DO THAT YOURSELF.

Jo
Jo
3 years ago

I feel so guilty and ashamed of myself. I was holding money for my BF’s aunt for months now. I recently used the money to pay off an unexpected expense 3 days ago. I planned on giving the money back as soon as I get paid on the next upcoming paycheck. She never asked me about the money & I never touched until a day after I spent the money. I told her about my issue & she seemed okay about the incident and told me not to worry about. This morning my BF confronted me & although he was not upset at all & wanted to talk it out, I now cannot shake this guilt and shame until I pay back the money & I am pushing him away. How do I handle this?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Jo

Do the exercises suggested in the blog. It sounds like you’re exceedingly hard on yourself, and my need to address underlying shame in Conquering Shame

anonymous
anonymous
3 years ago

I was a player and played with a guy’s feelings for a year. I never thought that it was wrong since he is paranoid and not ready for any kind of commitment too. but I always knew that he is a very kind person. after we broke up, I left him totally devastated for months, and yet, I still kept in touch with him and messed around with his feelings. Now I know what I did was so selfish and wrong 🙁 I am totally ashamed of myself

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  anonymous

Consider getting my books, Freedom from Guilt and Conquering Shame to discover the real motive for your behavior and heal the deeper forces driving it.

EJ
EJ
3 years ago

Hi Darlene,
During my freshman year of college (2 years ago), I entered into a relationship with my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. He was still suffering after their breakup, and instead of being a good friend to him, I feel like I betrayed him. I kept it secret from him for a while, until I finally mustered the courage to tell him. He forgave me almost instantly, and now it’s as if nothing happened. But I cannot shake my own guilt–I am frequently disgusted with myself and have started using this mistake as a referendum on my morality. I cannot get the thoughts of my actions out my head, and feel an inordinate amount of regret.

Any advice?

EJ
EJ
3 years ago

Hi Darlene,
During my freshman year of college (2 years ago), I entered into a relationship with my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. He was still suffering after their breakup, and instead of being a good friend to him, I feel like I betrayed him. I kept it secret from him for a while, until I finally mustered the courage to tell him. He forgave me almost instantly, and now it’s as if nothing happened. But I cannot shake my own guilt–I am frequently disgusted with myself and have started using this mistake as a referendum on my morality. I cannot get the thoughts of my actions out my head, and feel an inordinate amount of regret.

Any advice?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  EJ

It’s significant that you’re harder on yourself than your friend is. It suggests deeper issues of shame (disgust) and guilt. Do the exercises in Conquering Shame and Codependency and seek the help of a therapist to uncover what’s really driving your self-abuse.

Lisa
Lisa
4 years ago

Hi,
I’m 30 years old and I didn’t understand how dependent I was on my partner until it ended dramatically 2 months ago. In the aftermath I realized that I had been extremely clingy, needy, obsessed, controlling and just not a nice person.

I’m devastated. He was the love of my life and my best friend and I drove him away. And I feel so much shame for how I’ve acted and that it was the reason he doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I just can’t understand how I could act the way I did and completely self sabotage and undermine mine and his happiness.

Is it possible to completely overcome emotional dependency? Is there any hope?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

There is definitely hope. This was a painful wake-up call. If you were so dependent on him, the relationship wouldn’t have lasted. I strongly urge you to attend CoDA meetings, start therapy, and do the exercises in my book, Conquering Shame. When we feel such shame, we feel unworthy of love, and will sabotage it, distrust it, or reject it. Self-understanding and compassion will help you heal. I suggest reading my blogs on break-ups and listening to my seminar, Breakup Recovery.

Lisa
Lisa
4 years ago

Hi,
I’m 30 years old and I didn’t understand how dependent I was on my partner until it ended dramatically 2 months ago. In the aftermath I realized that I had been extremely clingy, needy, obsessed, controlling and just not a nice person.

I’m devastated. He was the love of my life and my best friend and I drove him away. And I feel so much shame for how I’ve acted and that it was the reason he doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I just can’t understand how I could act the way I did and completely self sabotage and undermine mine and his happiness.

Is it possible to completely overcome emotional dependency? Is there any hope?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

There is definitely hope. This was a painful wake-up call. If you were so dependent on him, the relationship wouldn’t have lasted. I strongly urge you to attend CoDA meetings, start therapy, and do the exercises in my book, Conquering Shame. When we feel such shame, we feel unworthy of love, and will sabotage it, distrust it, or reject it. Self-understanding and compassion will help you heal. I suggest reading my blogs on break-ups and listening to my seminar, Breakup Recovery.

Ilay
Ilay
4 years ago

I’ve recently aciddentaly humiliated someone in front of others. In what was supposed to be my friends and I harmlessly and gaily ‘roasting’ each other I haven’t realized I’m taking it too far and insulted someone noting things which everyone thought of him but wouldn’t think of saying. A friend came to me personaly immediatly after and told me I went too far, and only then did I realize it. I felt great guilt since, even knowing it happend with no intention of hurting him. I have a tendency of beating myself over things I did long after I did them. My problem is with the fact that I think he’ll remember the humiliation long after..

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Ilay

Guilt is appropriate in this case and requires some deep inner reflection. It can be a strong motivator for self-improvement and change. You didn’t mention that you made amends to your friend. I suggest doing the steps outlined in Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness. Beating yourself up isn’t helpful for anyone, but true remorse and penitence would be healing.

Janvi
Janvi
4 years ago

I am 28 year old graduate. Right from childhood i was too selfish. I never ever obeyed my parents and elders. home was a hell when I was here. My parents couldnt sleep a bit for days. I was so stubborn that I never cared for anyones feelings. I never studied well. If i had any ailment, i used t curse others. I was so addicted to TV and movies that I satyed indoors for almost 6 years after college. i persuaded my twin sister to be with me as I needed a companion in free hours. I gave false beliefs that we could have a bright future despite being idle. Now my parents are ailing due to old age. My twin have turned maniac. I am the sole reason.

Maggie
Maggie
4 years ago

I’ve had a lot of disappointments lately, and i tried to make up for it when I applied to a nannying job by writing my friend as a reference. I felt so guilty that I told the woman I was connecting with, but she said I was awful for doing such a thing and that I shouldn’t be allowed to work with kids. I have repeatedly apologized and she keeps attacking me, and is now saying she is going to tell my current employer, which I deserve. I just can’t stop running through it all in my head; one stupid decision is going to ruin everything, and I made this poor family so uncomfortable. I am so embarrassed, I just want to run and hide.

Angel
Angel
4 years ago

I feel horrible. Today I got me and my best friend in trouble and now her mother is going to jail because of legal things. Its pretty dumb but we left class early and we ran from a teacher and got in trouble. I ruined her life. I dont know what to do, I feel like I need to cut ties because im not good for her. I feel so guilty, I dont know what to do.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Angel

You didn’t make your friend’s mom break the law, and she also ditched class with you. You are not responsible for other people’s choices. Don’t desert your friend without talking to her. She may especially need comfort now if her mom’s in jail. Speak with another trusted adult or school counselor for advice. Also, do the exercises in Freedom from Guilt and Shame: Finding Self-Forgiveness.

anon
anon
4 years ago

i have shared a family secret to a couple of my friends about 5 years ago. the secret could be counted as something shameful. now i regret sharing it with my friends. believing that they might’ve told other people about it and badly judge my family. i feel guilty for giving my family a bad name. i want to apologize to my family but i dont want to burden them with the worries and possibilities. i feel really really bad about it.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  anon

There is pervasive shame in your family and you’ve adopted it, too. Telling someone is the first step in healing and breaking out of that dysfunctional family system. Read “Is Your Family Dysfunctional?” and Codependency for Dummies.

Nobody
Nobody
4 years ago

I feel horrible about something that I did to a sibling I’ve been beating myself up about it for weeks now and am becoming depressed and lonely.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Nobody

Do the exercises in the blog post and in Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness. Then if you still feel the same, make amends.

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

Ms. Lancer,
I just wanted to say thank you for these amazing steps and intuitively cathartic questions – what a help they’ve been!

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

Ms. Lancer,
I just wanted to say thank you for these amazing steps and intuitively cathartic questions – what a help they’ve been!

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

When I was young, eight or so, I took advantage of a younger relative and have never been able to forgive myself. Now, at the age of 20, I repeatedly abuse myself emotionally and by seeking out unhealthy relationships.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I have worked with clients like yourself. You’ll need to work with an experienced counselor to get to the root of your behavior and find self-forgiveness. There are reasons of which you seem to be unaware, why you did what you did. In some way you yourself were a victim, also.

tier1adv
tier1adv
4 years ago

test

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

In an extremely drunken state, I got with a friend who was in a similar state. She has a lovely boyfriend who I have resultantly damaged and damaged their relationship. We both feel terrible about what we have done but it can’t be changed, though it is constantly on my mind. I feel so much guilt because I would never do that sober and for me to be so careless was stupid and I am ashamed.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

If your drinking is causing you to violate your standards and morals, perhaps it’s time to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Doing that and working the 12 Steps (see my ebook on Freedom from Guilt, will turn shame into guilt and provide you guidelines on making changes that alleviate guilt. Someone else forgiving you is not the point. You violated your own standards. You can learn more about self-shaming inConquering Shame and Codependency.

Thomas
Thomas
4 years ago

I lied alot out of insecurity and a need to keep people at a distance. One lie spiraled into dozens. After two years of this two people whom I had mistakenly seen as friends from an early age (a decade earlier) returned to the country and I introduced them to my social network. They proceeded to call out my lies and uncover any skeletons in my closet. Furthermore, my girlfriend at the time, after breaking up, proceeded to shame me publicly. To the extent that the entirety of my faculty at university now mocks me openly. I should man up, but I’m finding it impossible to continue my uni career, now leading to fear my life will be utter crap.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

Until you get to the source of your lying, and understand and develop self-compassion, you won’t feel better. Do the exercises in Conquering Shame. Counseling will be important to move forward.

Travis
Travis
4 years ago

Hello, I have been going through a lot of stress and guilt for the past few days and can’t seem to shake it. I did something bad a few years ago and just came to the realization how bad it was. I was in college and this girl and I were somewhat hitting it off, well she ended up sleeping in my bed and sometime in the middle of the night I wanted to try and initiate sexual activity so we could have sex. I touched her breasts and I can’t remember if I touches her genetalia too, but for some reason I think I might have. Anyways it came to me the other day and I’m severely embarrassed and guilt ridden. This is not me as a person. How do I fix this

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Travis

You seem to have disowned your natural instincts and sexuality, and shamed them instead. The disconnect from the human who you are an who you think you are is causing you guilt and shame. I suggest doing the exercises in the blog, my books, Freedom from Guilt and Conquering Shame and Codependency to learn self-acceptance.

sisi
sisi
4 years ago

I tend to have irrational jeaolusy, I have been married for 2 months and have acted jeaolus in 2 occasions. I accomplish one month of not searching for reasons and it was a great effort for me, but yesterday I did it. I feel I can’t trust man 100% because their man and I know I am wrong, but it is difficult, I guess my trauma comes since childhood & some ex’s were not the best relationships either. My husband wants to punish me by not coming with me to a wedding from my family side, those relatives went to our wedding. Instead, I feel like punishing myself by not eating in 2 days, I love food, that will be a better one. What should I do

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  sisi

It sounds like you’ve had many disappointments and trauma around trust and relationships that require healing. Punishing yourself only repeats the trauma, but gives you a sense of control over your feeling (food). Seek out counseling and commit yourself to healing.

Shane
Shane
4 years ago

Dear Darlene.
My parents proposed me a girl to marry.I accepted that and associates her till couple of days ago.Its been 3 years relationship. but during that time i found many mistakes from her and i given more time to re correct her mistakes.but she did not listen to me.She did everything as per her own decision and did not willing to accept.I met a another girl in my workstation and had an affair with her.I felt her good qualities and thought to move on with her.I explained everything to my new girlfriend and she agreed to marry me.I stopped my previous affair but now she says she will behave herself well.but i cant.feel so bad.Am i wrong?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Shane

Forgiveness must come from within. You must find peace within yourself. Maybe you learned something about thinking through the consequences of your behavior. Do the exercises in Freedom from Guilt and Conquering Shame.

Shane
Shane
4 years ago

Dear Darlene.
My parents proposed me a girl to marry.I accepted that and associates her till couple of days ago.Its been 3 years relationship. but during that time i found many mistakes from her and i given more time to re correct her mistakes.but she did not listen to me.She did everything as per her own decision and did not willing to accept.I met a another girl in my workstation and had an affair with her.I felt her good qualities and thought to move on with her.I explained everything to my new girlfriend and she agreed to marry me.I stopped my previous affair but now she says she will behave herself well.but i cant.feel so bad.Am i wrong?

M
M
4 years ago

how to forgive yourself, if you have intentionally
killed someone???

M
M
4 years ago

how to forgive yourself, if you have intentionally
killed someone???

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  M

Yours is a heavy burden. It requires many steps including confession, contrition, and making amends, as set forth in my ebook. Just because someone did an immoral act does not mean that they aren’t entitled to forgiveness. The fact that you feel guilty is a positive sign.

J.P.
J.P.
4 years ago

I had just lost a very good friend of 2 years because I had lied to his face many times about my true feelings for him & why i was always swiping his photos. He got angry and said that he could no longer trust me and cut me off from his life. To make matters worse because my emotions were all over the place, I got in touch with his ex and another person and disclosed all the hangups and issues he had. Now he hates me with a passion. Am such a screw-up. Losing him like I did with another person 8 years ago…the pain has never healed. Now it’s like my wound has been doubled. Hope for Forgiveness and Reconciliation…impossible now. Damn!!!

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  J.P.

Perhaps it was an important life lesson on the importance of trust and honesty in relationships. Maybe you were treated like you treated your friend. In any case, what’s important is self-forgiveness, for you’ll spend the rest of your life with yourself. Do the Steps here and in Freedom from Guilt.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  J.P.

Perhaps it was an important life lesson on the value of trust and honesty in relationships. Maybe you were treated like you treated your friend. In any case, what’s important is self-forgiveness, for you’ll spend the rest of your life with yourself. Do the Steps here and in Freedom from Guilt.

VARUN
VARUN
4 years ago

hello…my name is Ram and i`m in a relationship with a girl in my college we are very much close to eachother.We are in relationship since 4 months. She likes me alot….and….mad for me, i do have same feeling towards her…….recently i met my neighbour girl ,she asked me to kiss her…..and i refused at first but later i kissed her…..after that happened i cant able to face the guilt of cheating my girl……..i`m dying of guilt…….help me out of this…..please i beg u for a solution for my problem.I can`t expalin myself about this…..this kissing neighbour will be a secret forever…..but the problem is my GUILT….pls reply ASAP

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  VARUN

Sounds like you violated your own values, which we all do sometimes. Take the steps to forgive yourself outlined in the blog and my ebook, Freedom from Guilt – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Ghazal
Ghazal
4 years ago

Hi. I am student studying to get into university. And my mom was a house wife who dedicated all her youth for us and for me. So when she told me she was going to work just 2days a week and for 6 hrs.i was really happy for her
And she asked me like a thousand times that if you jave a problem or cant study i wont go. But i didnt want her to dedicate her life to us anymore and i wanted ger to start donig things she enjoyed. So i said no mom , i will be fine. But that was a lie i couldnt study a single word when i was alone and dad was at work too.
So i had to lie to her every day about it and i still am. And its ruining me.

Ghazal
Ghazal
4 years ago

Hi. I am student studying to get into university. And my mom was a house wife who dedicated all her youth for us and for me. So when she told me she was going to work just 2days a week and for 6 hrs.i was really happy for her
And she asked me like a thousand times that if you jave a problem or cant study i wont go. But i didnt want her to dedicate her life to us anymore and i wanted ger to start donig things she enjoyed. So i said no mom , i will be fine. But that was a lie i couldnt study a single word when i was alone and dad was at work too.
So i had to lie to her every day about it and i still am. And its ruining me.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Ghazal

Rather than focus on your guilt, use it to motivate you to make your lie the truth. Plan to study with another student, stay after school, or go to a library, where you won’t be distracted. Your mother didn’t help you by always being available. You needed to learn to be independent, too, or you’ll never be able to leave home.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Ghazal

Rather than focus on your guilt, make your lie the truth. Plan to study with another student, stay after school, or go to a library, where you won’t be distracted. Your mother didn’t help you by always being available. You needed to learn to be independent, too, or you’ll never be able to leave home.

steph
steph
4 years ago

what if the result of death was a prolonged gradual phase for 2 loved companions who you accidentally neglected – simply by having a terrible memory or being pre-occupied, and knowing their last month of life was spent in misery. How can anyone say”im innocent”, after something so tragic?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  steph

Firstly, self-forgiveness does not require innocence. We forgive people that make mistakes, even intentionally commit crimes. However, from your own admission, you have certain limitations, such as a poor memory. Also, guilt is a normal phase of grief. I suggest doing all the exercises in Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness However, you may want to punish yourself a bit longer.

KMA
KMA
4 years ago

Thank you for this article. I have been making the same mistakes over and over in my life and at this point I feel like a complete failure. Your article is helping me to understand what happened. Way back to the shame that I felt that very first time. I don’t feel as crazy as I did before I read this but I still have only a sliver of confidence that I will ever feel happy again. I hope that by following your advice I can break this never-ending cycle.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  KMA

I’m happy to hear the blog was illuminating, but sounds like there’s guilt on top of shame. Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness can help you with the former and Conquering Shame and Codependency will help you with the latter.

Recent Posts

JOIN MY MAILING LIST RECEIVE “14 TIPS FOR LETTING GO”

To get your Free “14 Tips,” please provide your name and email to join my mailing list and monthly blog.

Check your spam folder, and email me if you don’t get an email confirmation. (See our Website and Privacy Policies)

Menu