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Guilt and Shame; Forgiveness & Moving Forward

by Joseph W., Licensed & Registered Counsellor

Date: May 2023

There are time we may be experiencing feelings of guilt or shame about experiences from our past. This is a common experience, and it's important to remember that everyone makes mistakes and has experiences they are not proud of.

It's also important to recognize that these experiences do not define your worth as a person. You are more than your past, and it's never too late to make positive changes and move forward in a direction that feels true to you.

It can be helpful to talk through these feelings with a trusted friend or therapist. They can provide you with support, help you understand the root cause of your shame, and work with you to develop strategies for moving past it and gaining a sense of peace and closure. Additionally, practicing self-compassion and self-forgiveness can also be powerful tools in overcoming feelings of shame.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and are in need of immediate help, please remember that there are resources available, such as crisis hotlines, where you can speak to a trained professional who can provide you with support.

Forgiving yourself and moving on can be a challenging process, but it is possible with time and effort. Here are a few strategies that may be helpful:

  1. Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness, understanding, and compassion that you would offer to a friend. Acknowledge that you are only human and that everyone makes mistakes.

  2. Reframe your thoughts: Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with more positive, self-compassionate thoughts. Instead of saying "I am a terrible person," try saying "I made a mistake, but I am learning and growing from it."

  3. Acknowledge and accept your emotions: Allow yourself to feel and process your emotions, rather than suppressing or ignoring them.

  4. Focus on the present moment: Practice mindfulness and try to stay focused on the present, rather than dwelling on the past.

  5. Take action: Take steps towards making amends, if possible, and work on making positive changes in your life. This can help you to feel more in control and empower you to move forward.

  6. Seek support: Talking to a trusted friend or therapist can provide you with a safe space to process your emotions and develop a plan for moving forward.

Remember, forgiving yourself and moving on is a journey, and it may take time. Be patient with yourself and trust in the process.

If you have tried to forgive yourself and move on, but are still feeling stuck, it may be helpful to explore other strategies or consider seeking additional support. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. Seek professional help: A therapist or counselor can provide you with tailored support and help you work through any underlying issues that may be contributing to your feelings of guilt and shame.

  2. Engage in activities that bring you joy: Find activities that you enjoy and make time for them regularly. This can help to boost your mood and provide a sense of accomplishment.

  3. Connect with others: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, or consider joining a support group where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

  4. Practice self-care: Make time for self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies, that help to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

  5. Reframe your past experiences: Try to look at your past experiences in a new light and focus on what you have learned and the positive changes you have made as a result.

It's important to remember that everyone's journey is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient with yourself and trust that you will find the support and strategies that work best for you.

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