How to stop guilty thoughts

photo-1428591850870-56971c19c3d9This is a big topic and I’m not attempting to make this extremely thorough. Theses are just some thoughts I’ve had recently.

Sometimes I can’t win when it comes to guilt. For example, I’m a mother of two. If I’m working, I feel guilty not being with my family. However, if I’m with my kids, I can feel guilty for not getting enough done. It’s a never ending spiral really. If I stop to take notice of my thoughts, I’m shocked as to how hurtful they can be. Some of the things I say to myself, I would NEVER say to anyone else. So why do I say them to myself?

“I’m a bad mom.” I said this to myself after I yelled at my daughter for biting my son.

“I don’t spend enough time playing with my kids.” I said this to myself after I chose to work most of the day.

“I wished I could have played better. I suck.” I said this to myself after volleyball practice.

Some of these feelings of guilt can produce me to change. If that is the case, then guilt can actually be a good thing. As long as I don’t stay in the guilt stage too long. I can feel guilty if, for example, I don’t get to play with the kids for that long in a day. So the next day I try to spend good quality time with them. That’s a healthy response to guilt. The next step might be to better plan my days so I get quality time everyday. But there are some responses to guilt that aren’t healthy and here are some thoughts I’m trying to think about regarding that.

1. You can decide to stop a thought.

If you are feeling guilty, it could be for a number of reasons. If these thoughts fill your day, it can be unhealthy (more extensive article on guilt found here). It’s hard to shut these thoughts off. Here are some questions to help you take captive your thoughts:

Feeling guilty for something you’ve done? Did it hurt someone else? Then guilt is an appropriate response. That means you care. Could you imagine if you hurt someone and never felt guilty for it? Instead of dwelling on what you did, think about how you can reconcile.

Is it something you can change? Great! If you have the option to be able to make something right, consider yourself lucky. Sometimes we make mistakes that are irreversible. Go and make the change.

Is it something you can’t change? How can you make the best out of the situation? Is there a way you can help others from making the same mistake?

I can’t take back the fact that I yelled at my daughter. But I can apologize and decide how I could have handled the situation differently. 1 John 4:8 helps me when I blow it with my kids:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Have I done my best to love? If I’ve done my best, that’s all I can do.

2. You can decide what you want to think about.

Philippians 4:8 is such a great scripture when it comes to this!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.

What is true? What is noble? Right? Lovely? I found a blog that had affirmations for mothers. And where not everyone is a mom, I thought it was a good idea to have these pinned up somewhere. Make some affirmations that work for you and put them up somewhere. Here are some I found (I changed them a little) and the blog I got them from:

  1. If I do nothing today besides love my kids, then I’ve done enough.
  2. I’m not the perfect mother, but I’m exactly the one my children needs.
  3. Today I will see the best in my child and the best in myself.
  4. The decisions made by other moms do not need to dictate mine.
  5. I have been called to motherhood—one of the most powerful callings in the world.
  6. I respect my children; I respect myself.
  7. Being a good mom takes courage.
  8. My mothering body is beautiful.
  9. Today I can be the type of person I would like my children to become.
  10. There’s value in showing my kids my vulnerability.
  11. Not liking every moment of motherhood doesn’t mean I don’t love being a mom.
  12. I will teach my child by example more so than by advice.
  13. There is no such thing as “just a mom.”
  14. I can accept my children just as they are.
  15. I love my kids even when they are being difficult.
  16. Today I can be an intentional parent.
  17. I am a blessing to my family.
  18. As I teach my kids today, I’ll also be open to the lessons they can teach me.
  19. I’m grateful for my life as a mom.
  20. I love my kids, which means I’m doing just fine.

This is definitely an area I am trying to grow in (hence the blog post) but I’m grateful to opportunity to try!

2 thoughts on “How to stop guilty thoughts

  1. I really like what you have to say in this and I’m going to share it with my wife. She has some of the same struggles and questions being a stay at home mom as well. Guilt though I disagree with. Guilt is just another form of manipulation that is used to get a result. It’s kind of like fear. You can use it to get what you want until the puppet wakes up to the reality there really are no strings attached. Conviction is heavenly though and its foundation is love. Being compelled by love will move you to do things you never thought possible. I totally agree with you and think we have to take captive our thought life! Be encouraged because this is a great revelation straight from Heaven and will change your whole outlook on life. Your role is so important to raising the next generation of thinkiners, dreamers, creators and innovatores. Like my wife said, you could be raising the next Billy Graham or Heidi Baker and you don’t even know it. Jesus doesn’t guilt us into loving Him. He loves us into His arms. Thanks for your post!

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