Let Go of the Guilt: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Take Back Your Joy

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

  


Conquering Your Guilt 


Guilt is sneaky. It doesn’t just rob you of joy, it can drive decisions and actions that sabotage you before you even realize what’s happening. I believe guilt for things we haven’t done wrong is especially epidemic among today’s women, who are burdened with more expectations than any generation has ever had. 


Taking steps to free yourself from excessive guilt is really about freeing yourself to live the life God created you for. When you address real guilt with truth, you are free to embrace the changes you need to make in your own life and begin the work of forgiveness that frees you. Forgiveness is a central theme of Christianity, and the New Testament directly deals with guilt through the once-and-for-all guilt offering of a guiltless Savior. What’s at stake when we don’t let go of excessive guilt? We give up freedom. We give up joy. We give up peace.


Although we experience authentic guilt, the overwhelming amount of mental and emotional energy we spend feeling guilty is based on false guilt. Feeling guilty without actually being guilty drives self-sabotaging behaviors, dysfunctional relationships, and anxiety. False guilt is a weapon the Enemy uses to steal your joy, condemn the very essence of who you are, and even kill your dreams (see John 10:10). 


There is a process I call the PEEL Process that can help you pull back the many layers of thoughts that create false guilt. As you pause and quietly notice your thoughts, you must ask yourself powerful questions and answer honestly to get to the truth of the guilt you are feeling. As you begin this process, don’t let fear cause you to aviod, deny, or bend the truth (see Proverbs 16:6). Refuse to allow fear to keep you stuck, and embrace love and truth instead. 


The PEEL Process begins by asking What is my guilt trigger? As you label the triggers, you can be prepared to take control of your reactions before self-sabotaging guilt does. The next step asks What am I saying to myself about the guilt trigger? Examine your thoughts about a situation and decide whether they are accurate, true, and helpful, or if they are a narrative of lies that must be rewritten. The third step asks What would be a more accurate thought about the situation? This is your chance to rewrite a new and true narrative about a situation. Rather than reacting out of guilt, these thoughts lead you to respond from a place of faith, love, and truth. Lastly, ask What actions, values, or evidence support the truthful thoughts about this situation? This step is essential because you are listing the evidence that the thoughts you exchanged for the lies you told yourself are accurate and true. 


Whether your guilt feelings are false or authentic, your willingness to tell the truth about your thoughts creates clarity that allows you to finally see the truth. With seeing the truth comes forgiveness. Forgiveness allows you to let go of self-anger and other toxic emotions that can cloud your thinking and make it difficult to move forward in a productive way. Guilt is one of the ways God guides us to choose what is right. Freedom comes with truth, and we must be willing to accept consequences and trust God with the future that unfolds as a result. 


Respond


How can the ability to identify false feelings of guilt help you react to a situation in a healthy way?


Who can help you walk through the PEEL Process as you strive to deal with feelings of guilt? 


How is your relationship with God part of your process of identifying truth and dealing with your feelings of guilt?