• Elizabeth Tullis, S-MFT

How to Stop Guilt from Running the Show


Oftentimes we carry it so closely we hardly recognize the part it plays in our lives anymore.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, guilt (like all emotions) can be a signal to take a closer look. And if we take that closer look and recognize we’ve done something wrong, whether that be hurting someone else or ourselves, taking the steps towards responsibility and repair is necessary.


Many times, we feel guilty over things that when taking a closer look, were never our responsibility in the first place.

Many women have a propensity for unnecessary guilt. We feel guilty that we’re not working out enough, not eating healthy enough, not spending enough time with our kids, or not being successful enough.

We tell ourselves we should be better, look better, have more capacity, and the list goes on.

The thing with being driven by guilt, is that it can work really well, for a while.

When we’re driven by the fear of not measuring up to a standard we’ve created in our minds (one that many times equates to perfection), we can become extremely efficient, motivated, and ruthless in our pursuit of the unattainable.


There’s a consequence. When we choose perfection over being human and allow guilt to dictate our motives, we lose in the end.

We lose true connection.

We lose out on laughing and not taking life so seriously.

We lose bonding with someone over the fact that we (just like them) don’t always get it right.

We lose moments of contentment and joy (even when things aren’t perfect).

We miss learning opportunities while we’re wrapped up in fear or regret.

So, you might be thinking “Okay you got me! Guilty again...for...feeling guilty a lot...what now??”

I’m glad you asked!

Here are 4 ways to counteract unnecessary guilt in your life


Yep. It may sound simple, but keep a daily gratitude journal or do some sort of exercise where you’re thinking, writing, or saying out loud what you’re thankful for at least once a day. This helps take your mind out of the “weeds” and focus on the bigger picture of what matters most to you.



Setting them for others AND yourself. Creating boundaries helps you protect your energy and say no to the stuff you don’t have capacity for (AKA it helps you stop overextending yourself out of guilt!)


Lower your standards

Yikes! Ok ok, I’m not asking you to set the bar super low here by any means. You have everything it takes to be the most incredible version of you. Go after your lofty goals! But perfection is NOT the standard. Take it off the literally shove it off the table. It’s not an option anymore, get it out of here!


Celebrate Small Victories

Give yourself some credit, especially in the midst of a pandemic...daily activities are tiny wins. Instead of beating yourself up for not being “better”, recognize what you HAVE done well.


No one benefits from you making yourself small.
-Marianne Williamson