How to Overcome Guilt

One of my clients contacted me recently after working through our Money Mindset Mastery training. It helped her gain some great insights into the ways she handled money.

(NOTE: Want a step-by-step plan for turning money into your slave instead of master? Learn more about Global Success Academy’s Money Mindset Mastery Specialist training and certification program today.)

She shared with me this list of realisations:

  • She realised she was very disciplined and accounted for every penny.
  • She felt compelled to give to her boys if they needed financial assistance.
  • She was a saver but she’d also deny herself.
  • She didn’t think she deserved a lot especially if she hadn’t worked for it.
  • She didn’t trust herself to be able to make money work for her and…
  • She felt guilty if she bought something she didn’t really need (and might even hide it from others).

I bet most of us can relate to at least some of those.

So the first thing I encouraged her to do was to give herself a great big tick for being able to see these money patterns in herself (most people just struggle with money but don’t take the time to work out why).

And then I asked … Do you want to change any of those things?
(After all, some of those things could be seen as either positive or negative).

It turns out what she wanted most was to not feel guilty, to feel like she deserved money and that it’s okay to have money … that it’s not a bad thing.

(RELATED: How To Quickly Overcome Shame & Guilt)

So we began by getting focussed on what she needed to do first. And that was to deal with the guilt so she can buy herself things and not feel guilty.

(I would guarantee that pretty much everybody reading this blog has something they felt guilty about at some point in their life so if that’s you then grab a piece of paper and join in).

So I told her the first thing to do is to make a list of things that bring this guilt up.

And that might be that you buy yourself something… you know, you’ve bought yourself a pair of shoes or that you took yourself out to lunch … typically, whatever it is that would trigger this guilt.

 

 

Then, we need to look at the guilt.

When we look at guilt, it’s something that everybody has felt, but it’s not actually on the list of emotions.
(Remember the six emotions are joy, peace, love, anger, sadness, and fear).

The reason it’s not on the list of emotions is because guilt is actually a mood, not an emotion.

For example, someone who’s had a tragedy in their life is likely to be sad about it. But if the sadness becomes prolonged, then it becomes a mood. Their outlook on life is low and dull and they are not expecting much. There’s no brightness and vitality. That’s what makes it a mood. That’s the first thing to understand.

The second stage is that a mood prolonged becomes an attitude.

So in the example I’m talking about, the person who’s sad, if they’re sad for longer than necessary to process it (in other words, they get stuck in it), then it becomes a mood and then they see everything from the perspective of sadness. That mood prolonged becomes an attitude. In this case the attitude is the gloomy way they look at the world.

Then an attitude prolonged becomes a view of life.

So we have three stages.

Emotion prolonged becomes mood.
Mood prolonged becomes attitude.
Attitude prolonged becomes view of life.

So I asked her .. Which one of the three ‘negative’ emotions do you think feeling guilty is?

At first she thought it was fear.

Fear of being greedy or being seen to be greedy.

 

 

Being greedy is something a lot of us were taught as youngsters was ugly and to be avoided at all costs. Our ‘teachers’ were the people who suffered from ‘lack’.

So, what she was really talking about is a view of life.

To discover the feeling underneath the guilt we needed to work backwards.

From the feeling that she’d identified as being greedy we needed to track that back to an attitude.

The attitude will be that there’s not enough to go around.

And when you track that attitude back to an emotion what you’ll find is anger.

That surprised my client.

But if you think about it 90% of the time, guilt is anger.

It’s a special kind of anger.

It’s anger turned against self.

If I was to back the car out of the garage at 3:00 AM in the morning thinking that I’m the only person in the driveway and I run over the four year old I thought was asleep in bed, who am I angry with?

Well, predominantly me because I could have looked in the rear vision mirror. I’m angry with myself for not looking. I’m angry with myself for assuming that the child was asleep back in bed. I can’t really blame a four year old for getting up and wandering around, so ultimately, guilt is anger turned against self.

When I insult a friend, I feel guilty because I’ve hurt them. I’m angry with myself for opening my mouth and saying something stupid.

Very often, guilt is associated with anger.

And what you’ll find, deep down, underneath it all, is I feel guilty when I buy myself a pair of shoes.

What you should be asking yourself is … What am I angry about?

It’s probably that you would like to be able to buy yourself a pair of shoes.

What you’re angry about, what you’re cranky about is, ‘I’m not allowed to.’

You’re just cranky with yourself now instead of the people who taught you that wanting more was greedy.

It’s easier to see when you’re a child. When you’re a child and someone said ‘You can’t have a pair of new shoes’, you would have stomped your foot and thrown a tantrum.

 

 

When you’re young enough you could have gotten away with it.

Remember, a tantrum is a version of frustration.

So now if you’ve got frustration and you try and identify one of those three negatives, frustration certainly isn’t fear and it certainly isn’t sadness.

Frustration is anger.

We’re just cranky.

Therefore, you’ve got to do some things that are going to deliberately promote the feeling of guilt. That enables you to turn towards it and process it out of your system.

How do you do that? Treat yourself – and that means do something that’s really going to turn the wick up.

I don’t know what that would be for you.

Maybe it’s taking yourself out for a really ritzy lunch and feel guilty about spending the money. Or maybe you go and buy a new pair of shoes that you don’t need (and they have to be shoes that you really don’t need, a bit of glamour and a bit of a treat) or some other thing that’s going to amp up the guilt.

Then you have to put the shoes on and wear them around because what we want you to do is we actually want you to feel guilty.

 

 

With all of the ugly emotions, we are naturally compelled to make them go away. That’s why people hide the things they buy. Not so they don’t get caught. It’s because it makes the guilty feeling go away.

What we need to do is instead of making the feeling go away, we need to make the feeling turn up.

Therefore, you need to buy yourself something that you don’t need and wear it.

If it’s a watch, wear the watch, show everybody the watch and notice that you feel guilty.

The reason you want to feel guilty is so that you can turn towards the feeling. Turning towards it will enable you to find whereabouts in your body it is. That way you can turn towards it, enabling you to process it, which will result in it working it’s way out of your system.

That’s Emotional Intelligence.

 

(NOTE: Want a step-by-step plan for turning money into your slave instead of master? Learn more about Global Success Academy’s Money Mindset Mastery Specialist training and certification program today.)