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Three Mindful Practices to Derail Thought Patterns of Guilt

Are you letting your guilty conscience guide your purpose today? If so, you’re not alone. So many times in my life I repeated the same pattern day after day that left my inner being screaming for a sense of purpose but continued to offer more of me than I have. Why do we continue to repeat our thought-provoking patterns of guilt and how can we start to change our mindset to learn to let go?    

Living with a guilty conscience is like being guided down through continuous paths led by others. You gave up the reigns and are no longer in control of your thoughts, your path, your outcome. How did this happen? How did I let myself be burdened with consuming thoughts of what I can or cannot do for others?

This soon would become my daily routine, not just today, but tomorrow and the day after that! Don’t get me wrong, service is a part of our purpose in life and personally for myself is very rewarding. However, when this is all we do, we lose a sense of our own path our own purpose. What would my days look like if they weren’t consumed by the guilt of how I can help or what I have to do for others?   

Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Jump on the guilt train. The questions that run through one’s mind when harboring guilt about everything becomes the weight and the chains that are so hard to break free from. It’s easier to stay in the negative thought patterns that we have been conditioned to think either by others or ourselves than to try to change. Either way, they are irrational and the sooner you recognize them and start freeing your mind from the guilt, only then will the clouds lift so you can see and live your purpose. How wonderful it would be to use your talents, skills, and passions to work in a way that brought you fulfillment. Living our purpose is helping others and serving the greater purpose of our very being and when we finally recognize that we can live with peace.  

Three steps to put into action today to abolish negative thought patterns of guilt:

Acknowledge what it is. Acknowledge that guilt is only the sum of our own thoughts and thoughts trigger an emotion. We may feel guilty for not loaning someone money, or saying “no” when you are used to saying “yes.” The thought enters and we feel the emotion of guilt. Saying “no” is not a rational reason to feel guilt. Repeat that 3 times — and, no, it won’t magically go away. However, if you continue to acknowledge your thoughts and ask yourself if the guilt you feel is rational or irrational, you can start to see a pattern in your thoughts. After all the true meaning of guilt is (the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime). When you notice how often your crime isn’t fitting the self-punishment it will be easier to let the thought of guilt go.

Practice positive affirmations. For example:

  • It’s okay to say no.
  • I am worthy of living my purpose.
  • Letting go is as good for them as it is for me.
  • I am not my actions or my thoughts.

Repeat these in a mirror or say them aloud during times of guilt or as daily affirmations to begin your day. I recommend using an app such as Think Up that allows you to record them in your own voice. Something about hearing them in our own voice that makes them more powerful.

Practice Forgiveness: We are taught the importance of forgiving others but not ourselves. It is okay to ask for forgiveness for yourself and then to practice self-forgiveness. Dwelling on our guilt, whether rational or not, does no one any good. Giving guilt less time and attention allows you to move forward.  

Just remember that feeling guilt or shame is okay. Guilt is a feeling that has its time and place in all of our lives. Every feeling has a purpose, just don’t give them the power to control your every thought or action.  

Acknowledge them, give thanks for them, learn from them, then hit the backspace button and clear them!

“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian

Three Mindful Practices to Derail Thought Patterns of Guilt

Stacy Thewis

I am a Registered Nurse and Certified Holistic Wellness Coach. I am trained in holistic health and wellness, certified in gut-brain health and how to help people create lasting transformations. My passion is helping others use a natural approach to improve mental wellness and overall health that addresses the person as a whole. My goal is to help others create a healthy lifestyle that they love to wake up to every day! My roots are in a small rural town in Northern Wisconsin where I enjoy spending time with my husband, my family, and nature.

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APA Reference
Thewis, S. (2019). Three Mindful Practices to Derail Thought Patterns of Guilt. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Oct 2019 (Originally: 8 Oct 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 7 Oct 2019
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