Overcoming Guilt: 4 Steps to Letting Go and Moving Forward

Overcoming guilt is not as easy as some may think. . . Do you ever feel guilty for no reason? 

Do you say I’m sorry when you think you’ll disappoint someone? 

Is there a part of you that feels guilty about putting someone’s needs ahead of your own?

If so . . .  you’re not alone. 

Guilt is a common emotion that can be tough to deal with. It can keep us stuck in the past and prevent us from moving forward.

In my work, I’ve seen women apologize for things that aren’t their fault, or out of their control, for fear of upsetting someone or looking bad. Many of these women have been doing this for so long that they don’t even realize it until a health condition or limitation creeps up.

With all that heaviness, guilt, and their self-defeating behaviors, they start getting upset stomachs, muscle tension, trouble sleeping, and or very emotional.

They deplete their energy because they’re constantly worrying about what others think of them and how they can help other people before themselves. 

If you’ve been carrying around a part of you that feels guilty and automatically has to say, I’m sorry for just being yourself . . . I’m here to help you break that pattern. 

I’ve worked in healthcare for over 30 years, and women, including me, tend to downplay their needs and wants because they learn that asking for what they want is wrong or selfish. 

Of course, if you’re in a helping profession like me, or in education or some other place where you have to give of yourself, it’s an unspoken rule that you shut off your needs and put everyone else’s first. 

However, at some point, this could become a destructive pattern if you’re always over-giving, people pleasing, putting your needs last while you’re neglecting your self-care. 

Many of my clients have worked with this part, apologizing tendency, for way too long in their lives. It’s starting to stifle their health and well-being. So my role is to help them find balance; a healthy balance of giving and receiving and of proudly being themselves without having to say I’m sorry for what they want and need.

So let’s talk about guilt, shall we?

 Overcoming Guilt

Guilt is not all bad. 

It’s only bad when it starts to build up under your awareness and cause all that self-judgment, self-hatred, self-sabotage, and self-neglect, all of the women I’ve worked with have come to me for help. 

However, guilt will arise when your behavior contradicts your conscience. 

It’s like your little checking mechanism to help you nudge yourself back into line and correct your behavior so that you’re not upsetting or hurting anybody else.

I think it’s a good and healthy thing, but when it gets out of hand, you’ve been putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own for a long time. 

You might not realize that you’re constantly feeling guilty, and it’s impacting your health. And I look at it like a virus. If you’ve had this part of you, this virus of . . . I’m always feeling guilty. I’m not worth it.

I have to put other people first. 

This virus sticks around, and it depletes your mental, physical and emotional immunity, and I do not want that for you. And as I’ve heard from my colleagues, they’re getting burned out all too often. They’re developing anxiety and depression. They’ve expressed how they feel overwhelmed and feel like they’re spinning but they don’t know how to stop.

They get colds more often, gut issues, trouble sleeping and focusing. Sadly, they lose touch with who they are and their happiness and joy. 

So when they come to me, I can help them turn it off,  break that self-sabotaging pattern, let go of that guilt, stop saying I’m sorry, and only use it when needed. 

Sadly, many of my clients have been holding on to these patterns since childhood, and now as adults, they notice that it’s not serving them. Personally, I know that I carried around the I’m sorry and the guilt pattern for way too long.

I grew up thinking that I was to blame, that it was all my fault, and that I had to be the peacemaker and fixer so that everybody else’s needs were met before mine. 

This left a heaviness on me. 

It affected my mental, physical and emotional well-being, and it came to a point where I just needed to have someone help me get out of my own way.

My women often come to me because they don’t know what it is that’s troubling them. And I am the one to ask the right questions and support them in a loving, nurturing way to figure out what it was during their childhood that started this habit, this pattern.

Maybe it was something a caregiver said, something in a religious area or society or sports that triggered them to decide; I have to apologize for who I am. 

So if this sounds like you, I’m sending you lots of love and hugs.

Overcome Guilt and Live Your Best Life

Step 1: Be Mindful

For the next two weeks, jot down every time you say I’m sorry. You might not even realize it in the beginning, but now that I’ve made you more aware, start to pay attention. 

Jot down the situation where you were, what day, time, whatever it needs to be, and write down that you said I’m sorry, even if you have to keep little tally marks.

Step 2: Take Notice of How Often & When It Happens 

I want you to figure out what triggered you to say, I’m sorry. I had this client that would say, I’m sorry if she missed your phone call, sorry if she missed your text, sorry if she wasn’t there on time, sorry that she was busy doing her job, sorry that she had to ask her husband for help. She just was so stuck behind her. I’m sorry that she weighed so heavily in her body, heart, and being. 

I helped her break that cycle. And now she doesn’t even say I’m sorry unless it’s warranted.

Step 3: What’s on Your Mind

As you pick up how often, when, and where you’re saying, I’m sorry, notice what’s going on in your head. 

What are you saying to yourself? 

Are you saying, “oh, I should have done this or I have to do that? ” Or, “Oh, I’m an idiot. Or it’s up to me.”

And then suddenly, you’re feeling that guilt that proves you are the responsible one. You need to take control. You’re there to not upset anybody. Jot that down. That’s very helpful for you to realize this experience that you’ve been having of the person saying I’m sorry and feeling guilty.

Step 4: Assess Your Situation 

At the end of these two weeks, take a look back and get a sense of why, when, where, and how. Look at the overall experience you’ve been having over the past two weeks of using the phrase I’m sorry and why you’ve been doing it. 

Now, this is some very heavy stuff, isn’t it? 

Saying Goodbye to Guilt

It’s no wonder that many of us gals walk around with extra pounds, aches, pains, worries on our minds, and stomach problems, because we’re carrying all of this emotional baggage and these responsibilities. Lots of them are not even ours. 

We need to learn how to set boundaries, separate our needs from someone else’s, and understand that it’s okay to take care of yourself and let them figure it out too.

So I do not want you to go through this process alone.

Two weeks is a short period, but I’m happy to help you overcome this if it’s been hanging around in your life for too long. Let’s schedule a time to talk.

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About Denise Morrison

I’m a licensed and certified health care professional with over 30 years experience in healthcare, wellness, fitness, physical therapy, yoga, NLP, TLT, hypnosis and mind-body practices.

During my career I’ve seen too many women struggle with self-doubt and fear leftover from their past, making them stuck in their health, happiness, and success.

This is why it’s my passion to help you discover and release any of your limiting beliefs, old stories, and unconscious obstacles so you can finally know, trust and value yourself and confidently make decisive action to create your most fulfilling life.

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