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How to Let Go of Guilt

Guilt is a powerful emotion. Sometimes it can help people realize when they’ve done wrong and encourage them to set things right.

Other times it can be emotionally paralyzing, making it difficult for people to make amends or to move past whatever they did. If your guilt is paralyzing you, you’ll need to learn to let it go.


How to Let Go of Guilt

Let Go of Guilt

1. Acknowledge your culpability in the situation.

The first step to being able to let guilt go is to take responsibility for your part in what happened. Even if your actions were well-intentioned and inadvertently caused a bad situation, it’s important to admit that your actions have consequences.

For example, you may have taken a job in another city thinking it would be better for your family, but once you moved, everyone was miserable.


2. Apologize to any injured parties.

You’re not going to be able to let go of the guilt if someone else is still hurting. Offer up a sincere apology, explaining that you understand what you did was wrong and you wish you had done things differently.


3. Recognize that all people have done things that cause them guilt and shame when we look back at them.

But most people can also learn from their mistakes and make an effort to become a better person for it.


4. Make a plan for how you will do things differently in the future.

Without having a new way to approach your life, you’ll continue to do things for which you feel guilty. The point of letting your guilt go is not to accumulate more, but to start fresh.


5. Take a cue from Judaism and create a visual representation of letting go.

On Yom Kippur, Jewish people around the world cast bread crumbs into a flowing stream of water. Each bread crumb represents a “sin,” and the flowing water is washing those sins away. Find a similar way to let go of the things about which you feel guilty.


Tips & Warnings

  • If you that you cannot let go of an overwhelming sense of guilt, no matter what you do, consider seeing a therapist. Guilt can be a manifestation of depression or other illnesses.



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