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How To Turn Guilt Into Good And Not Into Depression

Updated on November 23, 2015

In The Beginning, There Was Guilt

Many people take the popular personality tests based on C. Jung and I. Briggs Myers type theory. If you have taken this test, you know what I mean when I say that I am a "feeler". This means I mostly make my decisions based on how I feel at the time, or even how I am feeling about what I have done in the past. In my experiences, I have sat, thought, and "felt" guilty or ashamed of a mistake, failure, or situation for hours. This doesn't have to be mistakes as action. The guilty feelings can come from what I said to someone in the past, as well. I know now that when I sat and thought about my guilt for hours at a time; this thinking made me very sad and depressed. I did develop depression and anxiety from guilty feeling; however this may not be the case for every individual. We are, I believe, what we think. Eventually, we will turn into that good or bad person we are thinking we are after so long.

Focusing On Past Failures:

Over thinking and analyzing past mistakes or failures can put a person in a completely awful mood. Even if someone is in a puppy dog, sunshine, wonderful mood, thinking of things you've done wrong will bring you down. Of course we are all going to feel bad about things we have done. To dwell on the situation though, is just not healthy. I could probably sit and think every day for hours of all the mistakes I've made and about all of my failures. Why on earth would I do this though? Actually, I did used to do this exact thing. This type of thinking landed me into a long battle with depression. We cannot go back and change anything. Yes, I know that it is so easy to say this, but when you're thinking of a wrongdoing, getting out of the negative mindset can be difficult.

“Maybe there's more we all could have done, but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time.” ― Veronica Roth, Divergent..

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One Of My Many Failures With Guilt:

So, here I am just telling you not to dredge up the past, and here I am writing about one of my failures. This failure though; has been so long ago that I do not have guilty feelings for it any longer.

Right before High School graduation, everyone I knew were talking about how they were going to be attending colleges such as American River, Sac State, Cal Poly, Davis and many more. I had no idea if I wanted to go to college, join the Air Force, or just have a bunch of kids. The sister of my boyfriend at the time told me she would be attending MTI Business College soon, and was trying to convince me to join her. I did not think this was such a bad idea. Going to college may be good for me, and my boyfriend’s sister and me could also carpool. So, I signed up, got the loans and grants needed, and started attending MTI. My major would be medical secretary. I did really well during the first couple months of college. The problem was that I just did not want to be in a classroom again for hours after finishing the last 12 years of mandatory school. I started skipping college classes when my boyfriend's sister did not have to attend. I felt guilty after skipping classes and told myself I wouldn't do this anymore, but did not listen to myself too well.

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Reaping What I Sowed

We always are going to get what we deserve, right? One day, after numerous times of skipping college, someone high up at the school called me into her office and told me that if I missed any more classes the school would have to expel me from MTI. I even had to sign a paper stating how I would not miss any more school hours. So, guess what I did right after signing the paper, and leaving the "high up" lady's office? Yep, I left school. I did not realize too well at this time, that things done wrong would someday and somehow catch up to me. That is exactly what happened, and I was expelled after that day.

Consequences Are Sometimes Needed

My dad and everyone else were so disappointed in me, most of all I was disappointed in myself. The disappointment and guilt I had in myself lasted at least for a couple of months. Basically whenever I thought of my actions, I felt guilt and shame. I hate to disappoint anyone especially my dad, who raised me and had always been there for anything I went through. At that time, I was 20 years old. I never imagined that it would take a lot of mistakes and failures after this one to get myself to do what my mom had always told me. She would say, "Dawn-Marie, don't do anything you will feel guilty for". How was I supposed to do this? I had no idea, but I keep trying. Still today, at 42 years old, I try not to do things, which will bring me guilt and shame. If I do something that does though, I try to turn the guilty feeling into a learning experience.

Sometimes It Will Be A Dreary Day....

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At Least I Can Say I Learned!

I have made many other mistakes and failures (and will make more) since my "school skipping" experience. I do not feel so guilty anymore even if the failure or mistake is huge. I have learned something from every mistake and every failure in my life. I wouldn't change anything. I have learned things about myself, who I am, and how to deal with certain situations. I truly believe that with every negative, there will be a positive. We shouldn't feel guilty about much if we learn something from any mistake or failure.

With my MTI school skipping days, I learned about my personality and how I can be very stubborn. I have learned in very situation what I shouldn't do or what I should have done. Yes, I may feel bad for a short period of time, but if I focus on what I have learned, the guild will not linger so bad. I can also keep my mind free somewhat from depression and anxiety.


But A Dreary Day Turns Into Beautiful

Painting by: Frank Samora. Geneva On The Lake, 2009
Painting by: Frank Samora. Geneva On The Lake, 2009 | Source

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    • DawnMSamora profile image
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      DawnM Samora 3 years ago from Akron, Ohio

      Thank you for reading and for your comment, Denise. Yes, I know what you mean about feeling guilty after NOT doing anything wrong. I am still learning not to listen to others who make me feel guilty. Society and the media is good at making us feel this way also. It's hard not to listen to what others say at times, but we definitely need to try. :-)

      Thanks so much, Dawn

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I think that the worst part about guilt is when we feel guilty, even though we have done nothing wrong! You are smart to learn from your difficult experiences. If, at some point in time, your guilt mechanism malfunctions, and you feel guilty, even though you are doing good, then it would be wise to get some help! Depression often results from this type of guilt.

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