9 things in life you should never feel guilty about, according to psychology

We all experience guilt.

It’s a normal feeling, but sometimes we let it get the best of us, feeling guilty over things we shouldn’t.

Psychology has a lot to say about guilt, and it turns out there are quite a few things in life we really shouldn’t feel guilty about.

In this article, we’ll explore those things you should never feel guilty about and hopefully help you shed some unnecessary emotional weight along the way.

1) Saying ‘no’

It’s a common scenario. Someone asks you to do something and, despite not wanting to, you feel a wave of guilt for even considering saying ‘no’.

Saying ‘no’ is not only healthy, but essential for maintaining personal boundaries. It’s a fundamental part of self-care, and one that we often overlook due to the misguided feeling of guilt.

The fear of seeming rude or disappointing others can lead us to disregard our own needs. But remember, your time and energy are precious, and you’re entitled to guard them.

It’s perfectly okay to say ‘no’, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. After all, your mental health is just as important as the task at hand.

2) Taking time for yourself

I remember a time when I used to feel guilty about taking some time out for myself.

Whether it was reading a book, going for a walk, or simply doing nothing, I always felt like I should be doing something more productive.

I mean, there’s always a to-do list, right?

But self-care is not selfish. It’s necessary.

In fact, taking care of yourself emotionally, physically and mentally is critical for your overall well-being.

So now, I make it a point to set aside some ‘me’ time every day, guilt-free. Because, at the end of the day, my well-being matters. And yours does too.

Let go of that guilt and take care of yourself. You deserve it!

3) Not having it all figured out

In our fast-paced society, there’s an unspoken expectation that we should have our lives perfectly mapped out.

Know your career path. Have a five-year plan. Know where you’re going and how to get there.

But here’s something interesting: those who are open to not having it all figured out and can tolerate ambiguity are often more adaptable, creative, and resilient.

Life isn’t a race with a clear finish line. It’s more like a journey with twists and turns, and, occasionally, the need for a recalibration of our GPS.

So, if you’re feeling guilty about not having every step of your life planned out, don’t be. It’s completely normal, and quite possibly even beneficial.

Embrace the uncertainty; it might just lead to the most rewarding paths.

4) Making mistakes

You make a mistake, and suddenly you’re flooded with guilt.

But here’s the thing: mistakes are a part of being human.

Making mistakes is one of the most effective ways we learn and grow. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and encourages us to reflect and improve.

Remember, even the most successful people in the world have made countless mistakes on their journey to success. What matters is not the mistake itself but how you respond to it.

When you mess up, don’t drown in guilt. Instead, see it as a learning opportunity. Forgive yourself, learn from it, and move forward.

5) Pursuing your passion

It’s not uncommon to feel guilty for spending time on what you love, especially if it doesn’t directly contribute to your income or responsibilities.

But pursuing your passion is not a luxury.

Engaging in activities that bring you joy can significantly boost your mental health and overall well-being.

It can act as a stress-reliever, offer a sense of accomplishment, and even lead to increased self-esteem.

Whether it’s painting, dancing, gardening, or writing poetry, let go of the guilt. Embrace your passion. After all, life is too short not to do what makes you happy!

6) Expressing your feelings

How often do we suppress our emotions for fear of burdening others or appearing weak? This guilt associated with expressing emotions is more common than you might think.

But let’s get one thing straight: Your feelings are valid. Each one of them. And expressing them is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to your strength and self-awareness.

Emotional expression is important for maintaining a good mental health. Bottling up emotions can lead to stress, anxiety, and even physical health problems.

So, the next time you feel guilty about sharing your feelings, remember this: It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to ask for help. And it’s okay to let others know when you’re not okay.

Your emotions are a part of you, and you should never feel guilty for expressing them.

7) Prioritizing your mental health

I’ve had times in my life where I’ve had to step back from commitments because I was struggling mentally.

And each time, I was wracked with guilt, feeling like I was letting people down.

But here’s what I’ve learned: Mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, the two are often closely linked.

It’s okay to take time off work if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to cancel plans if you’re not up to it.

It’s okay to seek therapy or counselling. There’s no shame in prioritizing your mental well-being.

8) Not pleasing everyone

We often go out of our way to please others, sometimes at the expense of our own happiness. But no matter how hard you try, the reality is, you can’t please everyone.

Constantly seeking approval from others can lead to stress and negatively affect our self-esteem.

It’s important to remember that it’s okay if not everyone likes you or agrees with your decisions. What’s more important is that you’re true to yourself.

Don’t feel guilty about not meeting everyone’s expectations. Your priority should be your own happiness and peace of mind.

After all, this is your life; live it on your own terms!

9) Being imperfect

Here’s the most powerful truth psychology teaches us: No one is perfect, and that’s perfectly okay.

Perfection is an illusion we often chase, laden with guilt for falling short.

But the beauty of life lies in its imperfections. It’s our flaws, mistakes, and quirks that make us unique, human, and real.

So, embrace your imperfections. Celebrate your uniqueness. Let go of the guilt associated with not being “perfect”.

Final thoughts: Embrace self-compassion

Self-compassion involves being kind to ourselves when we’re suffering, recognizing that suffering is a part of shared humanity, and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness.

So, if you find yourself tangled in guilt over things we’ve discussed here—not having it all figured out, making mistakes, or simply prioritizing your own needs—remind yourself to exercise self-compassion.

Understand that it’s okay to be human, to falter and feel. Acknowledge that everyone stumbles, and it doesn’t make you any less.

And most importantly, feel your feelings without judgment or resistance.

As you move forward, remember this: Life is a continuous journey of growth and learning. And in this journey, guilt has no rightful place.

Embrace self-compassion, let go of unwarranted guilt, and allow yourself the freedom to be beautifully and perfectly imperfect.

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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