How to let go of guilt and rediscover the good person within yourself

Many people go through life feeling like they are a bad person. They may not admit it to others or even admit it to themselves, but deep inside they feel and believe that they are fundamentally bad.

how to let go of guilt and rediscover the good person within yourself

This post is Part 2 of 5 in my series on How to Become a Stronger Person and Empower Your Beliefs. In Part 2 I discuss how to let go of guilt and rediscover the good person within yourself. I urge you to continue reading so that you can set yourself free from feeling like you are a bad person.


Limiting belief 2: I am a bad person

The worst insult you can give

The worst insult you can give somebody else is to tell them that they are a bad person. At first, you might not agree but think about what this really means. If you call someone a bitch they can go away and think about how they were being mean, short-fused, or temperamental, and decide that next time they will be nice, patient, and consistent in how they treat people. On the other hand, if you call someone a bad person, you are encapsulating their whole entire identity and existence as a human being into one insult.

I remember when I use to hang out with an old friend, I’d use to jokingly call him a bad person but deep inside I actually did feel there was something wrong with him. Even though I do feel like there was something objectively abhorrent about his intentions and actions, I do realize that it was extremely hurtful to call him a bad person, and I wouldn’t say this to people lightly anymore.

But I will admit that I do still sit back and have a chuckle at how harsh it is to call someone a bad person. You are degrading their entire being,

If you don’t believe me test it out yourself. In an appropriate context, call someone a bad person in a serious manner and observe how triggered it gets people. It’s like an all-inclusive button that presses hard on people’s identity.


The hierarchy of identity

But what is it about being a bad person that is so crushing to the human spirit? I touched on this a little bit by saying that it encompasses a person’s entire identity but let’s look into what this means so that you can understand this concept clearly.

When we talk about ourselves as a person we are talking about the entire hierarchy of our own identity. To call someone a bad person is to put into question the integrity of the person’s entire hierarchy of identity. The entire hierarchy stretches from every physical bodily action up to the categories of abstractions within the human mind. This concept can be understood more clearly through the example in the diagram below.

Bad Person

This hierarchy is not built from the top down but from the bottom up. Simplifying it all, your physical bodily actions impact your brain, and as a human, you generate abstractions based on these actions and interactions with the environment, and you form a hierarchy of abstractions that form your identity and how you classify (categorize) yourself.

An example of an abstraction would be the category of apples. You start with a particular apple, and because of its attributes and properties, it is a part of the category of apples, which is an abstraction that represents all possible apples. You can then go up a level of abstraction as the category of all possible apples fits into the category of all possible fruit.

Fruit to apples

It is hypothesized that going up chains of abstractions is something that only humans can do. As animals seem to view the world as things in particular, and not in categories that define infinite sets of things.

So with this knowledge, we can understand that when you call someone a bad person, you are placing them in the category of bad person, in amongst the swamp of all possible bad people. Now that’s an insult, dooming people to an infinite pit of evils by placing them in the category of the bad.

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When we insult ourselves

The worst kind of insults don’t necessarily come from other people, they come from ourselves. A lot of the time we believe things about ourselves that aren’t necessarily true. These faulty beliefs act as constant insults that taunt us throughout our life.

Many times these beliefs are not based in reality and you may feel that you are a bad person because someone in your past had made you feel like you were. Someone blamed you, yelled at you, or hurt you, and you ended up emotionally damaged.

If you fundamentally believe that you are a bad person you will always carry around guilt. You will never feel good enough no matter how hard you try because guilt is weighing you down. You don’t allow yourself to be happy because you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy. It’s time to climb out of that pit and stop insulting yourself.


Guilt: the evil from the past

A lot of the time people feel like they are a bad person because they still carry around the guilt from their past of something they had done that was wrong. I use to struggle with this a little bit when I was younger as I’d continue to have intrusive thoughts that would fill me full of guilt.

A personal example was when I was in 4th-grade. I didn’t have many friends, besides a group of girls, so I would hang out with this other outcast. At lunch time he convinced me to go with him into the classroom and steal some of the teacher’s lollies. I snuck into the classroom with him, and as he was taking some lollies, I tried to impress him by grabbing some chalk and writing the F-word on the blackboard.

I went to rub it out after I had shown him, but he stopped me, grabbed the chalk and wrote the word ‘you’ at the end. So in this 4th-grade classroom was a big F-YOU fully spelled out on the blackboard, waiting for the teacher and other students to come back from lunch.

We both got in a lot of trouble and were sent to the principal’s office to stay there in permanent detention for 2 – 3 weeks. Except after the first day or two, I somehow convinced my mum to let me stay at home as I couldn’t face being blamed for what had happened.

I came back to school after a few weeks as if nothing had happened. The school never talked to me about it. But the person I got in trouble with asked, “Where were you? I had to spend weeks in the office!” I felt bad that he was left there to suffer in the office, but I didn’t want to admit that I did something wrong, and that made me feel like a bad person.

I blamed him because he was the one that wanted the lollies, he was the one that took the lollies, and he stopped me from rubbing the F-word off the board so he could add ‘you’ after it. But I had to come to terms with the fact that I could have said no to going with him to get those lollies, and I could have chosen not to write the F-word on the board in the first place.

Strangely, when I reached the point of admitting to myself the things I did wrong, I felt good about myself. Because the guilt wasn’t so much about writing the F-word on the board, it was about lying to others, and ultimately about lying to myself. In this case, honesty set me free from guilt because a good person is honest when they make mistakes.

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Counter belief 2: I am a good person

Moving past guilt

I had to go back through my past. Especially all those times I felt guilty, and I had to forgive myself for doing those things, and process those moments emotionally so I could let go of them. I also thought through them in order to come to the realization that mistakes are made and that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you decide to change your thinking and actions into the future.

Even if what you did was objectively bad, at some point you have to forgive yourself and move on from your past. Admit that it was wrong so that you don’t suppress it, emotionally process it so that you can get rid of the feelings around it, and then going into the future, ensure your attitude and actions are consistent with what is right.

If you haven’t changed your attitude and actions, then you are going to remain in a guilty state as you continue to repeat the same transgressions. If you continue to go against your conscience you will suppress your guilt and it will become an even larger problem that lurks underneath your conscious mind, doing all kinds of twisted things to your personhood.

On the other hand, you may have objectively done nothing wrong. As I mentioned earlier, you may blame yourself for what someone else has done to you. What other people have done to you does not make you a bad person. It may help to think back at what actually happened, focus on the actual actions of each person involved, and you’ll most likely find that it wasn’t you that was acting as a bad person. When doing this, don’t ask why, ask what.


Rediscovering the good person within

Decide today to believe that you are a good person. Start today to act in accordance with this belief. Track your attitudes and actions over time as you continue to live out the good nature of being a good person. These reference experiences in your memory will empower you to actually feel like you are a good person. You will feel happy when you interact with people because you believe and are conscious of the good that you possess and bring to every situation.

Question: Have you ever struggled with feeling like a bad person? I’d love to hear your story. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If you enjoyed this post then keep an eye out for the following parts to the series and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog.

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5 Part Series: How To Become A Stronger Person And Empower Your Beliefs

Part 1: Rediscovering meaning and the sense of purpose in your life

Part 2: This post

Part 3: Coming soon


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