Whatever it is you’re still feeling guilty about, let me assure you: you are not alone in this.
I’ve had many people over the years come to me to resolve different problems in their lives and put past memories to rest.
Guilt comes up quite often:
A lady whose ex-boyfriend has committed suicide, a day after asking her to get back together with him.
A mother that found her son OD’ing in his room.
These are just two everyday examples.
Most information out there tells you how to “deal” with guilt. How to slowly accept it and embrace past decisions.
While that information has its use, I aim for a more comprehensive resolution.
I’m after dependable, duplicatable frameworks to get us from point A to B.
How to elegantly close the gap between where we are now and where we wanna go.
This article you’re about to read is my humble attempt to do just that: Expose you to a predictable way to have a guilt-free 2019.
It was heavily inspired by an extraordinary man. One of the most precise and humble souls I’ve had the privilege to meet and learn from:
Steve Andreas — Author, publisher, master trainer and self-growth developer.
Ready to transform your guilt into a useful resource?
Let’s do this!
Oh before we start, can I ask you one thing?
While you might enjoy “just reading” this article, you will have a much higher return on your investment (time) if you actually choose something to work on.
A decision you made that hurt you or someone else and still torments you.
Please do this?
Here’s a cat to convey how much I want you to actually do this:
An irresistible cat for making you do the right thing
Need I say more? 😉
OK, now let’s begin.
Step 1: Integrating values
Most guilt stems from conflicting values: we want to satisfy two internal opposing forces.
“I want to be kind, but I also want to be honest. I want to be honest, but I also want to have friends. It seems like whatever I do, I end up criticizing myself and feeling guilty for not upholding the value that gets ignored.” — Transforming Your Self, chapter 8, “Transforming Mistakes”
Now read the following two phrases and notice your internal reaction:
“I want to be kind but I want to be honest”
“I want to be kind and I want to be honest”
See how the second one flows much smoother?
This deceptively simple shift, as ridiculous as it might sound, directs us to a very different internal experience.
The word “but” activates neurological associations of exclusion in your mind. The word “and” leads us back to union.
Now back to the decision at hand, which you still feel guilty about (if you haven’t chosen one yet, please look at the cat above again).
Which opposing values (forces) are at play here? What did you try to satisfy in each option?
As you mentally go over that, notice if there’s a “but” in there.
So far 100% of my clients started off with a “but” when they described the conflicting values of their guilt.
Now change that “but” to “and” and say it to yourself a few times in your head (or out loud if your current environment allows it)
Notice how your experience changes.
Isn’t it cool?
Step 2: Feel good about feeling bad
“Are you for real Adam? This makes no sense!”
Like most of my mind tricks, this is very counter-intuitive, but hear me out here ok?
I bet you my bottom dollar that YOU, my beloved reader, are feeling BAD about feeling good on a weekly (if not daily basis).
Think of the last time you sinfully succumbed to the lure of a delicious chocolate cake. Or the last time you skipped a workout to watch videos or TV.
We indulge in many guilty pleasures that we regret right after.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn this mechanism on its head for our advantage?
You feel bad about hurting your friend?
Why do you feel bad about it?
“Because I care for him, and I don’t like hurting people.”
You don’t like hurting people? What does that say about you?
“That I’m a good person? Someone with compassion?”
And how do you feel about that?
Remember the bet we made a few paragraphs ago? I’ll have my dollars now, please 🙂
This is a good second step and a sneaky way to orient your mind to something bigger that’s at play here:
Instead of zooming in on the problem (I hurt my friend), you expand the scope to include your core values as a person.
If you weren’t a compassionate person, you wouldn’t feel guilty.
I think we’ll both agree that the world could use more compassionate people roaming the land, wouldn’t you?
So I’m glad to have you with us 😉
Step 3: Integrate with 6 well made decisions
One of the surefire ways to screw yourself over is to “zero in” on the problem.
When we dwell on self-misery we tend to isolate our problems from the rest of our lives and ourselves.
Many friends, spiritual teachers, and well-meaning experts will tell you to “try and get some perspective”.
I want to take it a step further, and show you the “how-to”.
The ACTIONABLE process for getting perspective
Think of 6 good decisions that you made in your past. 6 things you’ve done that have resulted in benefits for you or others.
Things that as you look back at them now, you feel “I’m glad I did (or did NOT do) that!”
Don’t get to hung up on finding 6 mega-life-changing-I-can-divide-my-life-to-before-and-after decisions.
(Secret hint: You can always pick another 6, or if you’re smart, just add to those 6. Your mind will thank you for it!)
Got your first 6?
Now here’s the trick.
Think of those at the same time, AND add to that the decision you feel guilty about. Hold all 7 in your mind.
That is a neurological way to “get perspective”. You literally connect “good decision neurons” to these “guilt neurons”.
Like most of my mind hacking members, this will probably be the first time you try something like this.
You won’t do it “perfectly” the first time, but it gets automatic REAL FAST.
Since it’s all in your mind, you can do many iterations of this in a matter of seconds.
So, even though most readers won’t take me up on this offer, here’s what I suggest:
Take 30 seconds, right now, and do it for a few times. You can literally be better at this than 99% of the planet 30 seconds from now.
Like, seriously! DO IT!
So you learned how to feel good about feeling bad, and how to gain some perspective. Let’s move on to …
Step 4: Integrating positives
We have this mind of ours with its peculiar tendencies, many of which screw us over.
When we go on a guilt trip, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of our decision, and the positive aspects of the decision we did not take.
You’ve probably heard the common advice of “make a list of pros and cons of each decision”.
Not to trash age-old advice, I do want to suggest something me and my clients found much more benefiting and powerful.
Let’s say you regret not inviting Amanda to that dinner party because you wanted to have a more intimate time with Brad and Hyde.
If you regret that decision, chances are you are focusing only on the positive aspects of what would have happened if you DID invite Amanda to the party:
She would have been delighted to hang out with Brad and Hyde
She could catch up on Brad’s latest development
Hyde would have loved to chit-chat with her on the latest episodes of Games of Thrones
Now expand your scope and make a list of all the positive things that were made possible by NOT inviting Amanda to the party.
Brad and Hyde could talk about their “secret” plans to move away next year (they aren’t as close to Amanda as they are to you, so she can’t be “in” on this just yet)
Amanda could put in two extra hours of work on her new project
It’s been a long time since only the three of you got together, and it was nice to catch up on a more intimate level
Now here comes the first counter-intuitive part: Think of all of these at once. Hold in your mind the positive points of BOTH decisions at the same time.
Again, this is your first time doing this, so it won’t feel “natural” as drinking your tasty beverage of choice.
But unlike the latter, there’s nothing to “swallow” here, and it’s all in that supercomputer of yours you call “mind”.
Practice is free, and it becomes automatic REAL fast
So now that we integrated positives, what else could we integrate?
Step 5: Integrating negatives
Now here comes the more counter-intuitive step, but first a fair warning …
This might be (a tad) painful! But useful nonetheless … Promise!
Make a list of the negative aspects of both decisions, and then integrate those.
“But Adam, aren’t we supposed to ‘think positive’? How come you want me to think about negative things??”
Well, I do NOT want you to GENERATE bad thoughts. But, if they are already ON your mind, I do want you to make better use of them.
You already have the negative thoughts and feelings about what you regret (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?).
What I’d (humbly and gently) like to offer you is …
Utilize your mechanism of negativity to your advantage. What would have happened if you went for option B?
Dinner would have been WAY less fun
You wouldn’t have shared Brad and Hyde’s special moment of moving away next year
Amanda would have fallen behind on her work schedule
That is a lot of negativity you AVOIDED by making the decision you were regretting.
Integrating that with the negativity you “gained” with your regret helps to diffuse and soften it.
That’s also another way to gain perspective from a different angle.
Now here’s the nifty part about utilizing negativity …
This is a sneaky way of training your mind to utilize something we usually run away from – negative patterns and emotions.
Very wise figures all across history have told us “accept yourself, your WHOLE self, positive and negative together”.
This is an elegant way of doing it while resolving a current regret at the same time.
And I’m even not charging you extra for it! 😉
Again, this will probably “sting”, and it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you do it right, you are opening useful doors that might lead you to very interesting places. (if you go for this, do let me know below!)
Now that we have positivity with positivity, and negativity with negativity, wanna guess the next step?
⚡ Lightning step: The melting pot
You guessed it, time to integrate it all!
Hold in your mind all the positive aspects of BOTH choices, and all the negative aspects of BOTH choices, and think of all of them at the same time.
Play with different ways of doing this:
Positive A next to positive B, next to Negative B, next to negative A
Positive B next to negative A, next to negative B, next to positive A
Positive A next to … you get the idea 😉
(Pssst. I dropped another “sneaky” trick in this last part. There’s a ? for you if you get it)
Step 6: Unleash future possibilities
As you go through life, you make a lot of decisions on a daily basis, correct?
Like the rest of us marvelous humans, you probably don’t remember 99% of ’em.
But some …
Some of these decisions “stick out”.
For better or worse.
Inside of those, there’s a handful subset of decisions which you used to feel bad about in the past, but your feelings changed in light of new information.
Something happened that made you go “oh wow! I’m sure glad I did that after all!”
So I want you to first take a moment and think about one of those decisions now. A decision which:
You used to feel guilty about in the past
You got new information that put that decision in a new light
The guilty feelings transformed into relief and content
Please do it now before we continue ok?
I know you are busy and have 15 tabs open while watching 3 YouTube videos at the same time, but please do this?
It’s ok, I’ll wait.
(Pssst. Can you guess our next step?)
Now back to the decision you still feel guilty about.
There are endless future scenarios that might put that decision in a whole new light.
Many things that might have happened, or might even still happen, that will make you glad you took that decision.
Can you think of some of these now?
Let’s go back to the example of Amanda (the uninvited dinner guest). What if next week there’s a round of downsizing in her company? There would be a high chance of her getting fired!
While you were away in your dinner, she nailed that last project, which put her at the forefront of her boss’s attention.
That just might be what will save her from losing her job (and you know how much she loves and needs it since her mom got ill!)
And this is a drop out of the ocean of possibilities. You really did Amanda a favor by not inviting her to dinner, didn’t you? And you want to feel bad about it? Shame on you! 😉
But there’s a trick to that you see …
It’s not enough to just make a “dry list” of what could happen. What you want to do is really play it out in your mind.
See her boss announcing the downsizing tomorrow at Amanda’s office. Watch how she nervously waits for the dreaded talk at his office. Hear how he congratulates her on that project she worked on while she wasn’t at that dinner, and how they need more people like her in the office. Ones that put in the extra effort.
The more vivid you make this story, the more your guilt will continue to soften and dissolve.
This will also train your mind with something much more useful: generating new possibilities and ideas at command.
This will enhance your decision-making process for the future and get you some free creativity points (it’s on the house – get ’em while they’re hot!)
OK, ready for the last step?
Step 7: Decoding resolved guilt
Many of my clients have their guilt pretty much “solved” at this point, and this step could be the last nudge for a comprehensive resolution.
See, there are many forgotten buried gems inside that magnificent mind of yours, and I want to take you on a quick treasure hunt.
Think of something you used to feel guilty about. A decision you made that used to bother you, but today is more like “yeah, that happened, I learned from it. Life goes on.”
If nothing comes to mind, lower the guilt bar and go for something small. Something you did that hurt someone else in a very mild way, but today has zero effect on you.
We’ll call that “resolved guilt”.
Now notice HOW you are thinking about it. Do you see your younger self in there? Do you hear what you heard at the time? What’s your internal experience like?
This is how your mind “codifies” a “resolved guilt” experience. It’s our desired state/outcome for the guilt you are working on now.
Your mind already knows how to do this!
Now contrast the “current guilt” with the “resolved guilt”
How are you experiencing that? Is it louder? Is it bigger? Closer?
What you want to do is “codify” your current guilt, in the same way you already codify the “resolved guilt”.
See it in the same way. Hear it in the same way. Feel it in the same way.
This is not your typical way of operating the mind, and it’s much easier when you have someone leading you of course, but it’s immensely powerful.
You can go to great lengths on your own, AND you can use the same principle to code and resolve many things in your mind.
Many of the mind hacking journeys in my insiders’ club are based upon that. You should try it!
Step 8: ???
This is your time to shine! What helpful advice do you have to share with the rest of us? Do share with the rest of the class!
An interactive step by step journey to a guilt-free 2019
Did you find this framework to resolve guilt useful?
What were your favorite parts?
Please let me know. Don’t hold back. I take everything as constructive criticism. It helps me and it helps you!
Following many requests, I coded this framework and packaged it into a step by step interactive process.
You can find it (and many other goodies) in my mind hacking insiders’ club, and I honestly believe you should join us 😉
Here’s to 2019, a fabulous guilt-free year!
Visit Adam Goldman’s profile.