Many people believe that reaching their goals and leading a fulfilled life makes them selfish and self-centered. What they don’t realize is that being happy is nothing to be ashamed about. If you feel guilty every time you achieve something, it’s high time you learned that you deserve to do what makes you happy.
Success and guilt come hand in hand for many reasons. Most commonly, people feel ashamed of being happier than their friends or family. Others feel guilty because other people disapprove of their hopes and dreams.
Don’t let the guilt overcome you. You should do what makes you happy and appreciate yourself and your effort. So, let’s look at the best method of dealing with guilt and leading a fulfilling life.
6 Ways to Stop Feeling Guilt and Do What Makes You Happy Instead
1. Accept That You Deserve Happiness
Even though they may not be aware of it, some people subconsciously believe that they do not deserve happiness. There are plenty of possible causes for this feeling.
Perhaps you lack support from your friends or family. Maybe you feel judged by others when you achieve your goals. You may have been raised to believe that only some people get to be happy, while others don’t, and that you belong in the latter category.
Whatever your reason is, you need to change your mindset and start believing that you deserve happiness. After all, happiness is not a matter of luck — it’s a choice. So, choose to be happy and don’t let any external factor stop you from making your dreams come true.
2. Improve Your Self-Confidence
Most of the time, the major cause of guilt is shame, and shame comes from low self-confidence. People who lack self-esteem tend to feel unworthy of success. So, even when they achieve something that they’ve been working on for years, they feel guilty.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to boost your self-confidence. The first step is always to get to know yourself better. For example, you can write a list of all your strengths and virtues. Keep it somewhere where you can see it every day and you will never forget how amazing you are.
Also, make another list — a list of all your weaknesses and faults — and divide it into two categories. The first category should contain the flaws that you can change. Then, come up with a strategy to turn those flaws into your strengths.
The second category are the things that you can do nothing about. You need to learn to accept these flaws and embrace them as a part of what makes you special.
Once you accept yourself as you are and start working on improving yourself, you will feel far more confident. What’s more, as your confidence grows, you will do what makes you happy without feeling guilty.
3. Stop Focusing on Other People’s Needs
If you want to be happy with your life, your own well-being must be at the top of your priority list. Caring about your friends, being empathetic, and helping others is great. Still, it should never come at the expense of your own goals and needs.
If you’re feeling guilty because of your success, then chances are your parents taught you to always put others first. However, prioritizing yourself doesn’t mean that you are neglecting or hurting others. It also doesn’t make you selfish or narcissistic. Trust me, you don’t owe the world a thing, especially not to sacrifice your dreams.
Everyone is responsible for their own actions and achievements. Therefore, you should strive to achieve your own goals, not someone else’s, and do what makes you happy. Of course, if you are able to help a friend out, you should give them a hand. However, your happiness and dreams shouldn’t suffer because of it.
4. Identify the Source of Your Success
Several years ago, I received a promotion. It was totally unexpected and we all thought that a colleague and a friend of mine would be the one promoted. Instead of celebrating my success, I was overcome by guilt.
I couldn’t stop thinking about all those hours she had stayed late and how efficient she’d been. I was even too ashamed to talk to her. But then, she came to me with a smile and congratulated me.
Only then did I realize that I had worked overtime as much as she did. I was as efficient and diligent, too. I came to see that because of all the effort I put, my superiors thought I was the perfect pick.
The point of my story is this — think about the cause of your success. Chances are that you succeeded because of your own devotion and hard work, and not because of pure luck. Once you define how exactly you managed to reach your goal, you will realize that you deserved it. Thus, you will embrace your success instead of feeling guilty.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a fantastic method for dealing with guilt. People who practice mindfulness won’t try to ignore their guilt or hide from it. Instead, this method will help you acknowledge your guilt and identify its source.
Once you are aware of why you feel guilty, mindful practice will teach you to accept those feelings and channel them into something more productive and positive.
Mindful breathing and meditation might also help you. Through these practices, you will become more self-aware and confident. Eventually, the guilt will completely disappear.
6. Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes
Many of us tend to judge ourselves more than we judge others. So, if you feel guilty because of your happiness, put yourself in the shoes of someone close to you. If the roles were reversed, would you resent that person for being happy? Or would you be glad for them?
Changing your perspective will help you see your potential and qualities. So, you will be able to do what makes you happy without feeling guilty about it.
There is no shame in being happy. On the contrary, it is something we all strive to become. Chasing your dreams and fulfilling your goals doesn’t make you selfish — in fact, it is your right to pursue happiness.
So, accept yourself as you are, work towards achieving your perfect life, and don’t let other people’s opinions stop you. Do what makes you happy and embrace your guilt-free life!