Guilt: Deal with It!

Jim Still-Pepper

Guilt can be good or bad (check out 2 Corinthians 7:10). When we do wrong, God wants us to feel sadness and remorse; but sometimes we feel too sad or we hold on to guilt for too long. These two lists will help you tell the difference between good and bad guilt:

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Dealing with Guilt

Guilt is an emotional response to a situation in which you feel you have done something wrong. Follow these steps to deal with your feelings of guilt:

Before you start, pray.

  1. Admit your feelings of guilt.
  2. Figure out what you feel guilty about. Write your answers to these questions: What did I do wrong? To whom did I do wrong? How did it affect me? others?
  3. Keep your feelings in perspective. Consider: How significant is the situation? In 10 years, how much will it matter?
  4. Learn from your mistakes. Answer these questions: How can I make it right? What’s the best way to apologize?
  5. Apologize. Confess what you did wrong.
    [5½. Don’t worry about the other person’s response. Working through guilt does not depend on whether or not the other person accepts your apology.]
  6. Make amends. Try to fix what you did wrong.
  7. Forgive others if you need to, and forgive yourself. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a choice. Make the choice, and your feelings will eventually follow. Forgiveness is also a commitment; do what it takes to make it happen.
  8. Implement plans to avoid making the same mistakes again.
  9. Move beyond your feelings of guilt. Don’t let your feelings linger. Don’t spend any more time thinking about what you did wrong. Think about what you did right after your mistake.
  10. Read Romans 8:1. Celebrate what you did to work through guilt.



Sad sneakers2 TSP 480334655Read Psalm 31:9–13. Think about the verses you relate to when you feel guilty, and write them down.

Then read Psalm 31:14–16. Write down these verses. Notice how the writer of the psalm spent some time feeling guilty but then turned it over to God. Handle your guilt by giving it to God.

Jim Still-Pepper is a therapist and motivational speaker in Zanesville, Ohio. He admits he can go from zero to guilty in less than 60 seconds, but he has also learned to stop guilt before it goes on too long.

—from devozine (January/February 2009). Copyright © 2008 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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