7 Ways to Release Guilt

We’ve been rather busy this fall and have begun to fall behind on some of our regular tasks, as well as creative projects on our list. We noticed that we started to feel guilty about not getting to these things in a timelier manner. And then we stopped, realizing that guilt feels bad, and doesn’t really help us be more joyful and productive.

Just in case you get those guilty feelings sometimes too, we thought we’d share our list of ways to let go of them.

  • Live in the moment. As you focus on where you are right now, you can only really accomplish one thing at a time. Even in the midst of multi-tasking, you’re only doing one particular item at a time. Put your concentration on your current project, and you won’t be worried about all the other things you’re not completing.
  • Feel good about what you’re doing. You chose to take on this work or play. Enjoy it! When you’re ready to be done, you’ll make time for the other things you also chose. By feeling good about your current task, you won’t have room for guilt.
  • Acknowledge your good intentions. You may simply have too much on your plate, especially when deadlines are involved. Rather than feeling guilty, think about the reasons why you took on these responsibilities to begin with: to help others, to do fulfilling and profitable work, to be creative, to have fun. Thank yourself for your willingness to participate fully in all the things life has to offer!
  • Make a do-able plan. Revise your to-do list. Think about how many things you can get done in one day – then subtract a few, so you still have time for rest and recreation. When you have a simpler plan, it’s not so overwhelming. Do what you can, and let the rest take care of itself.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments. When you finish something, don’t just move on to the next task. Stop, if only for a moment or two, and give a sigh of relief, jump up and down excitedly, or do a high-five with someone. You did it! Enjoy the feeling of crossing it off your list.
  • Delegate responsibility. Sometimes you’re not doing projects alone, and can ask your partners or co-workers for help. Or if you have a lot going on in your creative work, you can ask your family members or roommates to pick up your share of the household chores for a while. Get creative – you may enjoy mowing the lawn yourself, but when you’re busy you can hire a neighborhood teen. When you delegate, fully let go of the task you’ve assigned. Trust that it will get done, and well.
  • Re-focus on your overall goals. Maybe you don’t really need to do all the tasks on your list. Do you have a list of goals for the year? How do your current projects dovetail with those? If there are things you can let go, now’s the time to do so. When you step back and get a bigger perspective on the things you’re doing from day to day, then often you realize what to let go – though it might just be the guilt itself.