Moodscope's blog



Living guilt free - is it possible? Thursday March 16, 2017

My friend decided she was never going to feel guilty and so be different from her mother and the rest of her family. I envy and admire her ability to live a guilt free life.

People say when you 'feel guilty' you think that you have done something wrong and are judging yourself. I agree to a point as I usually feel guilty when someone else tells me I have done something wrong. Therefore as psychologists say that guilt is a condition response not an real feeling or emotion. I find this confusing - does it matter if it is a reaction/response or an emotion/feeling?

As a child I felt guilty because there were starving children in the world and I had enough to eat. I did not feel guilty till my parents told me about the poor children who did not have much to eat.

When I hurt someone's feelings, or someone has told me I have upset them I feel bad. I become upset and if possible apologize to the person. If they won't accept my apology I feel guilty and upset and then I worry.

Counsellors say the only way to end guilt is to stop making you or others wrong. They say it is simple. Stop the judgments that you or anyone else is wrong and then you will be able to relax. I think that is too simple, if I have spent a lifetime feeling guilty I don't think I can stop the guilt cold turkey!

I read an article that said there is no right or wrong, only experiences to learn from. It encourages us to toss guilt out. Trust yourself. What do you think?

Do you live a guilt free life? Have you always or have you changed?

Do you believe that guilt is not a feeling.?

Do you think it is possible to change easily a life time of 'feeling' guilty?

Do you think changing one's way of thinking about guilt will take a long time?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Permalink  |  Blog Home


Sally Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 5:53am

Guilt used to rule my life, it no longer does to the same extent. I am glad of that, because I think it was greatly displaced and ill thought through. Early conditioning to always put others before myself led to me feeling I had to be "good", even to the extent of negating my own personality and interests. Through life experiences and therapy I have come to realise that the guilt I was feeling was not only excessive but largely misplaced. This was both a revelation and freeing. So nowadays, I feel guilt only if my good manners or actions let me down. If I hurt someone unintentionally, I feel guilt. If I "go below my standards" (as a young person I knew used to know put it, )then I feel bad. But I try to remedy it, with an apology and reparation if relevant. I think ownership of one's guilt is a question of maturity, taking control of what is rightfully yours.
Sorry Leah, if I have overintellectualised your questions, but, as ever, you made me think, and this was a very good thing! I think guilt is a response of the mind to remind us to consider our actions, and therefore a necessary emotion. At the simplest level, it is a stop to me reaching out for yet another slice of cake! That I don't need!!

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:52am

Sally, Thank you for your detailed and well thought out response. I like the way you have explained your journey with guilt. I am not sure if I eat more when I feel guilty but when I am feeling annoyed. I will think about that. I like my simple blog being put into an intellectual context so not overintellectualised at all. I like the concept of taking control of what is yours and not taking on the guilt of others which is what I think I do, Thanks so much Sally for starting this discussion.

Molly Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 6:44am

Guilt is my middle name ! I feel so guilty all of the time. I am so very hard on myself. I don't know how to change it. I have a major issue from my past that I cannot let go of. I have a more recent issue that I have been blamed for and I will actually suffer more than the people who are blaming me ! However much I tell myself that it was not my fault. I'm going to buy the book recently mentioned on here. VSP. The sensitive people will always come out worse, because they feel, and they care, much more than the average person, but I guess that makes us nice people? Sorry for the ramble, just struck a chord with me, thanks Leah for the post xx

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:54am

Molly, I can so relate to your post. Thanks for being so honest. I too have a major secret issue from my past that I can't let go and feel guilty about as it still effects people today. I hope that some of the comments others have written may help us both in some way. Take care xx

Jane Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:17am

Hi Leah. I can relate to your blog and to Sally and Mollys comments. These feelings feed into bring a people pleaser and I set ridiculously high standards for myself and others. I'm trying to learn to wear the world as a loose cloak. Have a good day/eve! Xx

Sally Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:33am

I love your phrase "wear the world as a loose cloak", Jane. It fits well!

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:56am

Jane, Thanks for your reply. I don't set myself high standards but I think they are related to my people pleasing persona.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:58am

Sally, Yes that is a lovely vision- wear the world as a loose cloak. I use the cloak image to explain to people bipolar in my talks- the heavy cloak and the magical cloak. Think my wardrobe can handle a third cloak.

Jane Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:18am

Sorry - being a people pleaser!

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:48pm

Jane I think we should stop saying sorry for our typos otherwise I would always be saying sorry and of course we shouldn't say should! Guess I have a long way to go.!!! In fact I did nt notice your typo until you brought it to Myra attention and even then I did not see it at first!!!

Sarah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:28am

I very recently had a bit of a revelation.... when I feel low like no energy, for no particular reason, I thought in the past I was feeling down and depressed.... and I've just realised that that feeling of no energy and low doesn't have to be labled as being depressed - and that actually my body just feels low on energy... I find by not labelling the feeling negatively I can ride it out as just that I'm low on energy, thus the feeling passes without negative actions that usually follow when I think I'm depressed. So what I'm saying is, if we can identify our feelings more accurately, we can recover better - make sense?

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:01am

Sarah Thanks Sarah for your insightful post. You make a good point. I suppose it means identifying the feelings accurately as you say. Sometimes it can be hard to work out different feelings as being low and lacking energy can be a part of being depressed. Thanks for your contribution.

Sally Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:36am

Yes, Sarah, that is true. Knowing yourself does lead to better identification of symptoms. It is in our hands to change how we manage our energy levels, to a certain extent . The difficulty arises when we have to hatch to another person's band!

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:02am

Sally, I think getting to know one's symptoms is a journey that can have hiccups. It took me a long time to trust being sad and going with it knowing I was not depressed. Thanks for your input.

Sally Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:36am

March, not hatch! Sorry!

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:50pm

Sally It is interesting as I read hatch as match because that's how brains work or mine does. I think hatch sounds quite poetic and metaphoric!

Orangeblossom Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 7:42am

Hi Leah thanks for the blog. The whole issue of guilt is something I have mulled over for years. There is the guilt that comes from a very tender conscience; usually from being a people's pleaser. There is also the imposed guilt from an authority figure. My mother & my husband's father use the devise of guilt tripping people as a control mechanism. It now makes me angry rather than feeling guilty because I have realised the game they are playing.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:04am

Orangeblossom Thanks for your thoughts. It is good you can see when people are using guilt as a control mechanism, That is a good lesson as I usually get take in

LP Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:02am

Hi Leah,

For me guilt is linked to how I am generally. When my scores are steady, I dont feel any guilt. I fo what I can do be who I am and that is good enough. At the moment I'm not on top of things. I cant stretch myself as thinly as I seem to need to and I feel guilty. I guess it's being hard on myself and if I take a step back from feeling overwhelmed and plan how I can manage things I will feel less guilty.
Maybe psychologists might mean that guilt is about blame which isnt helpful. Perhaps if we remove blame the guilt will go? That certainly is helping me as I write this. It's no ones "fault" that I have alot going on. I am not to blame but I can adjust things if I put my mind to it.

On another level I trust myself and believe that I make decisions that take others into consideration.
If I planed to do something that harmed someone else, or say planned to commit a crime, I imagine that I would feel guilty if I did it. Not as an emotion, but because I have learned right from wrong and I have done something that I knew was wrong. One could argue that no one is to blame, that there are reasons why I made a poor decision, but for me the guilt would still be there. Someone else would feel justified in doing the same thing and feel no guilt.

Thank you for a facinating blog Leah. I'm definitely going to be less hard on myself and do some things that will make me feel better about not managing all my committments very well at the moment.

Wishes for kindness to ourselves all round. LPxx

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:07am

LP Thanks for your detailed post with many interesting points. I think removing the blame, is like what the article I mentioned in the blog said, that if we stop saying we and others are wrong we can get of the guilt.Thanks again for sharing your ideas.

Tracey Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:48am

I just started to realize that i feel guilty about everything in my life. I feel guilty for the things i've done wrong ,even if ive learned from it and i feel guilty for all the things i havnet done that i should have. Thing is i know i cant go back in the past and change these choices but its an internal battle i face everyday. And the majority of it related to my children, i wish alot of things had been different but the damage has already been done and im still living with the repercussions. Guilt really hurts, i think its pretty useless but i cant seem to let it go.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 10:14am

Tracey, Thanks for being so honest. Guilt and children would be a blog all by itself. At least you are aware of what you are doing and that is a good start. Do you have anyone you can talk about how you are feeling. I am still working on my guilt issues related to my children . Maybe as you read the comments some moodscopers may be able to help. I do hope you can learn to get go and get some peace.

Valerie Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:59am

You will get a lot of responses to this! I always blame myself,have a running commentary in my poor head,conversations replayed.Did I say something wrong,what did that look mean? Should I phone and rephrase it?
And as for the the past,Dear God! I have not had an easy life,a truly terrible childhood and first marriage.However,in the past few years it has been clear to me how really bad I myself have been to some who did not deserve it.Acts of selfishness,spite,casual cruelty come back to haunt me.I was a rotten mother,and that can never be healed.I am trying to be kinder to myself,but anxiety and guilt are my default mode.Prozac takes the edge off,but I think this is just how I am. xx

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 10:19am

Valerie Thanks for your your openness and honesty. Like Tracey, you have articulated your feelings and you have shown an awareness of your emotions so that is a beginning. I think people can change if they want to even though it is hard. I have tried to work on one issue with my children which I feel guilty about. It is a work in progress but it is getting better. Do you think you could take one issue and look at it with the view to letting go the guilt? Just a thought. I wish you all the best xx

DAVE Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 12:59pm

Very thoughtful blog Leah.
Judging from the response guilt is very much alive in most people's minds.
I have said and done and do things of which I feel guilty.

'Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mistery, but today is a Gift, that's why they call it the Present'.

Today is the start of a new life, we can try to ensure that we stop looking in the rearview mirror, or too far ahead, and just concentrate on doing our best with others, today, and Leah if you've been really sorry for something you've said or done....that in itself is a humbling experience, one in which if you've tried really hard, then you can do no more, it is for others to accept or reject your apology...We have to move on, as to remain in a state of guilt continually will pull us down, and keep us there. 'Forgive Yourself' and move on.

Be kind and loving toward others, as what we all suffer from, I believe is, we need to feel wanted, needed and of worth.
I am trying not to judge others, but look beyond the surface and find the good, because I think if I strive to do that, the goodness within myself will come to the surface, and in so doing, I hope maybe to become more 'lovable'.
Have a good 'Guilt Free' day.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 8:55pm

Dave Thanks for your very helpful post, that will be of use to many moodscopers. I think most of us know what we need to do but that is very different from doing it. I think trying to find the good in others is maybe easier than finding the good in ourselves. AS you say if we find the good in others the goodness within ourselves will come to the surface. That is something to strive for, Thanks again you have given us a lot to think about.

A Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 1:24pm

Hi Leah, I've never commented before (despite being on Moodscope for years) as I'm too shy but I really just had to say that your post resonates with me so much. It's also very well timed for me as my guilt levels are so out of proportion and unhelpful; I appreciate being able to see that others have similar issues, and that they're able to take steps to overcome them.

While I'm here; I may have never commented before, but I read the blogs daily and absolutely love yours every time. Thanks for taking the time to share x

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:09pm

A Firstly thank you so much for taking the effort to comment on my blog and thank you for reading the blogs. I appreciate your kind words, they really mean a lot to me. I have also noticed that others have issues with guilt so I don't feel so alone. I understand how hard it was for yout to comment so it I really thank you for honesty in communicating your thoughts. I hope by reading the comments you might find something that is helpful. I am sure you will have inspired others who have never commented and who read the blogs, to post one day. Take care x

The Gardener Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 3:17pm

Hello Leah - I thought I was dealing with guilt - everybody I know, professionals, friends, family assure me that I am doing everything possible for Mr G. I got him from 2 weeks respite yesterday - on the way home he was offering up prayers of thanksgiving for his 'release' and going back to his own home. He then proceeded to give me absolute hell - everything was wrong - too cold, too hot, too much light. I weathered it until the self-pity started, and his jealousy of all I am still able to do. I try to din into him that except for gardening, a personal pleasure (and very necessary 'wind-down' everything is for our mutual benefit - more so, for him, to smooth his was as much as possible. He wants to 'do' things - I suggest possibilities - can't see (he is visually impaired) can't walk - untrue, won't walk. But he is making me feel SO guilty - I can't talk about my day because he gets so upset about the things he can't do. A woman who comes in every Wednesday is a real 'leech', she uses people, always asking favours, always too busy to do one back - hyper critical - but she's like the song - about a party? 'Don't ask Lulu, she'll come by herself'. Other mutual friends try not to tell her what bar they are having coffee in - but she has moles everywhere. Another woman (reckoned now, perhaps, to be bi-polar) creates scenes, berates her partner in public and would never do anything for anybody. Neither of them seem capable of finer feelings, nor feel sorry for corns they have trampled on.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:15pm

TG I think that caring for someone who has dementia and possibly for other illnesses would bring up feelings of guilt and all the advice of dealing with guilt would probably not be useful. Does writing down your feelings here about what you are dealing with help at all with the guilt. Thanks for your reply as it is always full of things to ponder. Take care

The Gardener Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 3:25pm

Just picked up on Sarah's low on energy. I used to have it a lot, and fight it - getting exhausted and furious. It was often down to low blood pressure, or plain over-work - our no-nonsense doctor said don't fight it, comfortable chair, silly book, and the body will right itself (not ignoring the real need to check for anaemia etc). My GP has just ordered me to have a blood test - but he knows perfectly well that it's stress, age (yes, does count) and few chances to 'let go'.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:18pm

The Gardener I like the idea of a comfortable chair and a silly book- what a great doctor, I suppose knowing what is causing the stress and low energy helps a bit but does not change it.

Sally Ann Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 3:25pm

Sally Ann Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 3:26pm

Pushing a bruise to see if it still hurts.
I hope that some of this might be relevant with today’s blog and the feelings of guilt. My guilt was for needing medication. Changing or stopping medication is a bit like the bruise – it still hurts but only if you push it. We feel okay so we stop taking the medication – why I wonder, especially if it’s working? Maybe partly because we feel we shouldn’t need it? We feel guilty. We worry about the medication dulling our creativity but I don’t imagine there will be much creativity going on when we get depressed again?
The relevance for me to today’s blog is that I manage bi-polar with the help of three medications and I’ve stopped feeling “guilty” that I take them. The better I get the better I am able to build on that and I’m so grateful that my psychiatrist persevered with me as I just wanted to give up on life. Maybe it’s not the pills that are holding us back. There’s a certain amount of guilt somewhere there. Creativity will come and go, as it probably does when we are taking medication, stop taking any medication, or aren’t taking any.
Once you get better you might try to stay with it – don’t push the bruise and good luck to everyone.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:22pm

Sally Ann Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I had not even thought about the guilt and medication. You have explained so honestly and so well how you have stopped feeling guilty about taking medication.. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Jul Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:19pm

Hello Leah. I remember a therapist once telling me that guilt is not a useful tool to use in life. Something like that. I got the impression that she thought guilt should not feature in anyone's life. I do have some guilt issues but then ask myself that the guilt I feel arrises from decisions I made in the past and could I have made different choices or decisions at the time. The answer invariably is no. I justified them at the time and only now do I feel guilty about what I did. Hindsight is a terrible thing! And probably not a good tool! I haven't had time today to read all the comments but I am sure you will have had some interesting replies. i hope to read them.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:28pm

Jul Thanks so much for your insightful comment. I agree that sometimes hindsight is not a useful tool. I think there is a quote by Maya Angelou which I will see if I can find later saying what you have about making decisions with what you know at the time. My problem is rationally knowing I can't change the past but notionally still feeling guilty about it and also having others express that i was to blame so fuelling the guilt. I am working on all this. Thanks again for replying.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:34pm

Just found the quote. "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better. I do better." Maya Angelou I love this quote because it. Is so simple yet so powerful. I just have to learn how to apply it. Jul, Thanks so much for reminding me of it as you were expressing the same sentiments in your post. How clever of you. Xx

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:40pm

Hello Moodscopers,
Thanks so much for everyone who has commented and all those who read and never or rarely comment.
I have been touched by all the sharing of raw emotions and the honesty expressed here. It is never too late to comment and feel free to comment on my comments especially if you disagree.
I find the generosity of spirit of moodscopers to share their experiences with others even when they are not in a good place themselves, to be so moving.
Also I think knowing one is not alone in one's struggle with feeling guilty , is very reassuring.
Hugs to everyone. Just a bought maybe not a guilt- free life or even a guilt free day, maybe if I can start with a guilt free morning , or afternoon and see how that goes? Anyone else want to give that a go?

Molly Fri, Mar 17th 2017 @ 7:09pm

I'm giving it a go !! Thanks Leah for your kind response to my response and I agree it is very reassuring to know we are not alone with these guilty thoughts. Hugs back to you xx

Leah Fri, Mar 17th 2017 @ 10:04pm

Molly Thanks for your kind words. I am trying the guilt free time but it is amazing how many things I feel guilty about. At least I am now becoming aware of how I take responsibility for things I have know control over. Let me know how you go and thanks for trying. Hugs from down under.xx

Molly Sun, Mar 19th 2017 @ 12:53am

:-) :-) I seem to cope with one guilty thing only to be landed with another ! Maybe It is just in our make up. But definitely need to remember that we cannot control things, yes, that brings me comfort that thought. We all do our best at any given time xx

Leah Sun, Mar 19th 2017 @ 8:47am

Molly I think being aware of all the things I feel guilty about is just the start of my journey. I never thought I was into control but in little ways I am- another thing to work on.

Leah Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 9:42pm

Hopeful One
Hope you are ok.
I missed your joke today.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Mar 16th 2017 @ 11:44pm

Hmmmm. That guilty card often gets more than a zero for me... usually when I feel I have let myself down by drinking too much, eating the wrong things, not doing the things I said I would or things I should. Rarely from hurting or offending people. Something useful from my church background; guilt is never from God and never good: it is from the devil, sent to torment us. Conviction of sin, however (sin used in its widest sense) prompts us to repentance (that is, a turning away from and rejection of the relevant behaviour) and thus forgiveness. We are absolved and walk away clean without guilt. It sometimes helps me to remember that guilt serves no useful purpose. Not always, but sometimes...

Leah Fri, Mar 17th 2017 @ 1:02am

Mary It is funny because I usually put a zero for guilty card even though I often feel guilty but at the time I am doing the test I don't feel guilty!! Is that weird. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Molly Fri, Mar 17th 2017 @ 7:15pm

I guess it depends on our mood. Feeling down on ourselves, that is when all the negative feelings appear, on a good day, nothing seems as bad does it. I'm stating the obvious I know, especially as we are on Moodscope! But it amazes me how different I can feel from day to day and so try and remind myself that those negative feelings are often not justified, that I am just having a bad day xx

Leah Fri, Mar 17th 2017 @ 10:01pm

Molly I am the queen of stating the obvious as sometimes we need to hear it. I can relate to feeling different at different times of day(stay tuned for a blog on this), Someone told me to remind myself I am having a bad day not a bad life. Thanks Molly for your comments.

Molly Sun, Mar 19th 2017 @ 12:45am

So true, bad days feel like the end of the world, don't they, what I hate is when I'm having a good day and things go wrong to ruin it !! But yes also we need to be reminded of the obvious, how obvious it might be, we just need to hear it at times. Will look forward to your next blog Leah xx

Leah Sun, Mar 19th 2017 @ 8:50am

Molly, You were up late!! I once decided that I wouldn't let the amount of sales I took in my shop affect my mood. The trouble is when I had a good day I wouldn't feel goo but when I had bad sales I still felt low! So it didn't work out!! If you have a bad day and something good happens does it lift your mood a bit? Xx

Molly Thu, Mar 30th 2017 @ 5:25am

Just re-reading some posts and have only just seen this one, it is a shame there is not a notification on here to tell you there is a message. So not sure if you will see this but I think the answer to your question is probably yes but I had to think about it, as I would probably say it would be a temporary comfort or a temporary fix, rather than making all ok, if that makes any sense (and yes I am up really really late this time) :-) xx

You must login to leave a comment.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

We exist to help people to positively manage their moods. You can contribute by taking the test, sharing your experience on the blog or contributing funds so we can keep it free for all who need it.

Moodscope® is © Moodscope Ltd 2018. Developed from scales which are © 1988 American Psychological Association. Cannot be reproduced without express written permission of APA.