We’ve all had that awful, sick feeling in our stomachs before.
Perhaps it was something you thoughtlessly said or did.
Perhaps it was something you forgot to do.
Perhaps you were just a bit of an all-round let’s say… not your ideal self?!
Whatever it was, one thing’s for sure: you’re wracked with regret, you’re wound up with guilt, and you wish with all your heart you could turn back the clock and have a do-over.
Of course, unless you’re friends with Dr Who, it’s unlikely that time travel is an option. Which means you’ve only got two options left:
1) Stay wracked with guilt for long enough that you feel you’ve done your punishment and ‘paid your dues’ for what you did. This could be a couple of days, weeks, even months, depending on the severity of the incident.
2) Skip the self-flagellation and beating yourself up in favour of making peace with what happened, learning from the experience, and moving on.
I know which I’d rather!
Here’s the straight-up truth:
We all do things sometimes that we wish we hadn’t.
We say things, we act in a way that is just not okay, and we know it.
I can’t tell you how long it took me to acknowledge the fact that I don’t like who I become when I drink alcohol. A couple of social glasses, yeah sure. But anything more than that and I am sure to wake up the next day not at all happy with myself. My judgment goes out the window and I do and say things I would never normally do and it leaves me feeling so disconnected with my true self and wracked with regret and embarrassment.
I don’t drink very much at all these days, but I was at my husband’s Christmas party last year and I was so tired from having just run a really big event that day and I think the sheer exhaustion mixed with that summery, Christmas vibe saw my usual couple of cocktails turn into one too many. It was all fun and laughs, and nobody was hurt. But I was physically a very sick girl the next day, and I had also been quite ruthless with my communication. I was borderline tactless, and for someone who prides herself on being kind, caring and above all puts others at ease, this alcohol-infused behaviour was not okay for me. I am not saying that you can’t have a good time, but for me, where I am at in my life and what is okay for me, this wasn’t.
And I felt so crap.
Luckily, instead of hiding in my bedroom and beating myself up for the next month, I managed to pull myself out of my pity-party and made peace with what happened.
Here’s a great place to start when you’re feeling pretty damn shit about something you’ve done.
1. If you need to, apologise.
If you haven’t yet, and someone else was involved, apologising is the first step. You don’t need to beg or grovel, just be genuine and heartfelt and express your deep regrets from your heart.
2. Get out your journal
Often, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by something that’s just happened, it can be really hard to figure out what you’re feeling and why. Journaling is your best friend in times like these. Take pen and paper and start drilling down to the core of what you’re feeling. Try asking yourself:
What am I feeling?
Why am I feeling this way?
Why am I beating myself up?
3. Choose to replace any negative thought patterns with more accurate statements.
Is your journal page getting filled up with statements like “I’m a bad person” or “I don’t deserve forgiveness” or “People just really don’t like me”?
In the height of emotion, it’s easy to get bogged down in big, sweeping negative statements, but they’re usually not true and are based on assumptions and false evidence. Identify any negative statements like these, and then find evidence to refute them.
“I’m NOT a bad person. I know this because…”
“I DO deserve forgiveness because…”
“People DO like me. I know this because…”
4. Forgive yourself.
This is imperative. It happened and you cannot go back and change it. What matters is what you do now and how you move forward, starting with how you feel about yourself.
The truth is, you are human and that means you make mistakes, it is part of what spurs on our amazing growth, which allows us to be our best selves.
So don’t beat yourself up. Be gentle and kind and forgive yourself, sweetie.
5. And finally, learn from it and let it go.
I just said it, but I’ll say it again because it’s that important: Forgive yourself and then let it go. What truly matters is what you do NOW. In this moment. What’s done is done. Now you have a choice what happens next. Take the wisdom, the learning, the gold from the situation… It is always there if you are prepared to find it and move on, gorgeous one.
So there you have it – my foolproof way of pulling yourself out of the depths of guilt and crappiness when you’ve done something that’s not so great. Bookmark this page so that next time you’re feeling like the world is about to end, you know where to come and what to do.
And now gorgeous, I’d love to hear from you. What did you do the last time you felt really, really shit to pull yourself out of that dark space? Let’s start a collection of our best tips and ideas in the comments below.
You’re truly amazing,