Newsletter: Guilt can help us change - if managed correctly

Guilt can help us change but unmanaged, it can be a total energy drain!
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Guilt: hero or villain?

Unresolved or excessive guilt
will foil your growth plans!


When we don't healthily manage our guilt, it becomes something that disconnects us from our true selves and our best futures. This can be a massive emotional energy drain. Losing positive perceptions of ourselves and our destiny will dismantle any hope for change and growth.

It's not only the initial wrong doing and hurt but rather the ongoing cycles of hurt, guilt, and avoidance / aggression that persist. So what may seem innocuous, slowly builds up levels that become toxic.

And what about guilt-tripping? We may have good intentions to 'help' those we care about change their ways but all it does is foster resentment, superficiality, perfunctoriness, and general decline in the relationship. All which deplete energy and motivation for true, meaningful change.

How should we deal with guilt so that it doesn't inhibit our forward development and continues to have a positive effect?

Here are a few suggestions:
  • Render effective apologies: 6 ingredients
    1. acknowledge we violated expectations
    2. Clear statement of apology
    3. Request for forgiveness
    4. Validate other person’s feelings
    5. Offer atonement
    6. Acknowledge we violated expectations
  • Exercise self-forgiveness
    • Know that this will increase our ability to enjoy life and also decrease guilt and needs to avoid those we’ve harmed.
    • A process that begins with a decision that we’ve beat self up enough and we will make emotional effort to work through it.
    • First, take full responsibility and give honest accounting of wrong doing; explicitly acknowledge wrongdoing and impact on those we’ve harmed.
    • For next steps / exercises, pick up Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.
  • Reengage in life
    • Remind ourselves of the many reasons why it’s important to move forward. (This may be difficult if we suffer from low self-esteem which I'll talk about in a few weeks.)
      • For sufferers of survivor guilt: Unfair to mourn so long; loved one would’ve wanted me to move on.
      • For sufferers of separation guilt: Taking care of myself (with fulfillment and joy) enables me to care even more for others.
      • For sufferers of disloyalty guilt: Letting others dictate my life means they’re leading 2 lives - not fair.
Get more and deeper explanations and examples with Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.

Guilt can be a hero and motivate you to make significant, highly worthwhile change. But don't let it become something that will wreak havoc in your life. It has a specific, limited function - to help us right wrongs - effectively and equitably; guilt is not intended to be an entity stagnating our growth and development.

We all make mistakes and fail in diverse and numerous ways. It is challenging to have a healthy relationship with guilt yet it's essential if we are to continue evolving and maturing to be revolutionary agents of positive change.

Ready to elevate your leadership, strategy, commitment and execution to move forward and upward? Book a complimentary 30-60 minute session and let's chat.

Cecil Wong is a Certified Life Coach from San Francisco, California with over 25 years of experience in leadership and teaching. He works with children, families, individuals, organizations and companies, combining personal and professional development.

Life coaching is all about getting clear about your dreams and putting the practical pieces in place to make them happen. 

Family Connections Coaching is about achieving more of what matters most.

Check out revamped website!

  I have known Cecil for about 3 years. We met through Sunset Church’s children’s ministry and quickly struck up a friendship because of our mutual desire to be better fathers and faith leaders in our homes.

As it turned out, Cecil became a kind of father to me as well as a close friend. I was going through very deep waters related to the absence of my father and we cried over things, ministered to each other, drank coffee together, rode bikes, and shared the journey of life together.

At first I wasn’t sure if this was ministry or friendship. I realize now this is the heart of Jesus that God wants all of us to radiate through all that we do, rather than a conflict between work and social life. This is Cecil’s strength but sadly perceived by [some] as wishy-washy, unfocused, and difficult to measure performance.

However, “the proof is in the pudding.” For years I had struggled alone and the church as a whole was unprepared and unable to help me deal with the deep pain and wounds I carried, and at best only helped me cope. But my friendship with Cecil was life changing. He presented the heart of Jesus to me in a real person: someone who spent time with me; someone who felt my grief and pain; convinced me that he liked me; wrestled with truth. We walked a dusty path together.

And now I am able to minister to others knowing this is Jesus’ way of doing things. The world needs more Cecils, especially churches and Christian organizations.

Cecil has vision, a strong heart, isn’t easily offended, is very flexible, is a faithful friend, and sees the best in people and draws that out with his talents in coaching and discipleship.

...if you want to breathe life and heart into people and help them experience Jesus and discover their own hearts and calling, then Cecil is your man. He was made for this. 

J.Preston, Moorpark CA

More testimonials >

Click on the gorilla for some of
Jim Collins' thoughts about B.H.A.G.'s:
Click this pic for some of my thoughts on a faith BHAG:

Pull the trigger on pursuing the dream of something huge and audacious, that will rock your world and bless your relationships, maybe even change THE world! 


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