Guilt Quotes To Help You Overcome And Move On

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated September 21, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Everyone may experience guilt at some point. This emotion often results from doing or saying something that you feel remorse for saying or doing. It also may stem from a conflict with a loved one, co-worker, or even a simple acquaintance. The feeling of guilt can let you know that you made a mistake, acted against your morals, or hurt yourself or someone else. It may serve a purpose in showing how to improve in the future after doing some soul searching. 

Guilt can feel heavy and may be hard to put into words. It can become a problem if you feel unable to move on from it or if it's interfering with your daily life. Forgiveness is the ultimate protection against guilt, you may crave the forgiveness of others but benefit from your own forgiveness.

Guilt Can Feel Overwhelming

Quotes About Guilt 

The following quotes explain guilt and how it may feel for those who experience it. Signs of guilt can include defensiveness, negative mood, and avoidance of situations or people that remind you of the feeling.

  • "Guilt is the total of all the negative feelings we have had about ourselves, any form of self-hatred, self-rejection, feelings of worthlessness, sinfulness, inferiority, incompetence, failure, or emptiness. The feeling that there are things in us that are lacking or missing or incomplete." –Ken Wapnick
  • "Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they're big, flashing signs that something needs to change." –Gretchen Rubin
  • "Guilt is always hungry, don't let it consume you." –Terri Guillements
  • "I'm just going to say it: I'm pro-guilt. Guilt is good. Guilt helps us stay on track because it's about our behavior. It occurs when we compare something we've done – or failed to do – with our values." –Brené Brown
  • "Guilt isn't always a rational thing… Guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not." –Maureen Johnson
  • “Calvin : There's no problem so awful, that you can't add some guilt to it and make it even worse.” – Bill Watterson
  • "Denial, panic, threats, anger – those are very human responses to feeling guilt." –Joshua Oppenheimer
  • "Guilt is to the spirit what pain is to the body." –Elder David A. Bednar
  • "Guilt is a profoundly conservative emotion and, as such, is not particularly useful for bringing about change. From a position of insecurity and guilt, people do not change or inspire others to change." –Michael Kaufman

Quotes About The Consequences Of Guilt 

At times, the actions you take when you feel guilty may cause you to act out in ways you aren't proud of, which may perpetuate guilt. However, dwelling on guilt in the long-term is useless and will only make you feel worse. Below are quotes about the potential consequences of this emotion. 

  • "Nothing is more wretched than the mind of a man conscious of guilt." –Plautus
  • "No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now." –Alan Watts
  • "Guilt can prevent us from setting the boundaries that would be in our best interests, and in other people's best interests." –Melody Beattie
  • "He that is conscious of guilt cannot bear the innocence of others: so, they will try to reduce all others to their level." –Charles James Fox
  • "Guilt is a destructive and ultimately pointless emotion." –Lynn Crilly
  • "No matter how frustrated [or] disappointed we may feel in the face of our failures; it's only temporary. And the faster you can stop wallowing in guilt, blame, or resentment, the faster you can put it behind you." –Fabrizio Moreira
  • "Guilt upon the conscience, like rust upon iron, both defiles and consumes it, gnawing and creeping into it, as that does which at last eats out the very heart and substance of the metal." --Bishop Robert South
  • "An unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally." –Watchman Nee
  • "Guilt is the worst enemy of true happiness and self-esteem. It is indeed the worst thing you can ever do to your soul." -Pamela Baron Waldbauer
  • "No guilt is forgotten so long as the conscience still knows of it." -Stefan Zweig

Quotes About Moving On From Guilt

Moving on from feelings of guilt can feel challenging and selfish, however not doing so only serves to protect ignorance. Below are some quotes about moving on and finding healing. 

  • "There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes of your past. Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go." –Melanie Koulouris
  • "To heal, we must first forgive… and sometimes the person we must forgive is ourselves." –Mila Bron
  • "The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward." –Dr. Steve Maraboli
  • "With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose." –Wayne W. Dyer
  • "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." –Jack Kornfield
  • "Moving on doesn't mean you forget about things. It just means you have to accept what happened and continue living." –Unknown
  • "I did a lot of things that I regretted, and I certainly paid for my mistakes. You have to go and ask for forgiveness, and it wasn't until I started doing good and doing right, by other people as well as myself, that I started to feel that guilt go away. So I don't have a problem going to sleep at night." –Mark Wahlberg
  • "The guilt you feel finally comes to an end when you fully express how it came into your consciousness." –Luke Garner
  • "Repentant tears wash out the stain of guilt." –Saint Augustine
  • "Lack of forgiveness causes almost all of our self-sabotaging behavior." –Mark Victor Hansen
  • "Mistakes are part of life. Everyone makes them. Everyone regrets them. But some learn from them, and some end up making them again. It's up to you to decide if you'll use your mistake to your advantage." -Meredith Sapp
  • "Dwelling on past bad decisions you've made only allows those decisions to keep defining you. Forgive yourself and move on." –Mandy Hale
  • "Don't be so damn hard on yourself. Yeah, you screwed up. You're not perfect, fine. Learn from it. But don't punish yourself. Be kind to yourself, even when you screw up. You'll bounce back eventually. You'll make up for it." –Stephanie Klein
  • "When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future." –Unknown
  • "It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one." –Voltaire
  • "Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change, then it can be useful since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge." –Audre Lorde 

Quotes About Living After Guilt 

At times, hope can be a beneficial tool when learning to live through guilt. Below are quotes about what may happen in the future. 

  • "An exciting and inspiring future awaits you beyond the noise in your mind, beyond the guilt, doubt, fear, shame, insecurity, and heaviness of the past you carry around." –Debbie Ford
  • "Forgiveness takes the burden of hate, guilt, and bitterness off your back and, with a lighter load, you can climb higher and faster, and be much happier in the process." –Unknown
  • "The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change so that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear, or anger but wisdom, understanding, and love." –Jennifer Edwards
  • "There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one's errors. It not only clears up the air of guilt and defensiveness but often helps solve the problem created by the error." –Dale Carnegie
  • "Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you." -Unknown
  • "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future." –Oscar Wilde
  • "Guilt can either hold you back from growing, or it can show you what you need to shift in your life." –Unknown
  • "The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence." –Unknown

Guilt Can Feel Overwhelming

Counseling For Guilt 

Feeling guilt may lead to defensiveness, destructive behavior, or feelings of shame, however, there are times when guilt can be helpful. When you are past that point, your guilt might become harmful. If you have done something and you feel guilt, remind yourself that you may be able to work to make it right. Start by considering why you made a mistake. If you need to apologize to someone, take that step. Learn how to avoid that same action in the future. Then, forgive yourself. At that point, you may overcome your guilt and remember that all the good that you have done. 

In some cases, you may find that guilt or shame sticks around. If you need help navigating the path to forgiveness, reach out for help. Therapy has been shown to reduce feelings of guilt and shame.  A therapist can help you talk through your feelings and find constructive ways to express your values. 

You might also benefit from online counseling if you feel nervous about meeting with a therapist in an unknown location or driving to a new appointment each week. In a review of the literature regarding online therapy, online therapy was found to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. Studies also showed its effectiveness in providing treatment for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can often be accompanied by feelings of guilt.

Specific online platforms, such as BetterHelp, can match participants with trained professionals specializing in various areas, including guilt and shame. As these guilt quotes may suggest, talking through the past may help you in the future. 

Counselor Reviews

“He provides excellent incite to my issues that are thought provoking and provides exercises that help me deal with issues of shame, grief, remorse, guilt and then gives me practical exercises to do on my own during times of need and to create a healthier life for myself in my pursuit to recover from trauma.”

“Alta has been amazing in providing me with the tools needed to help get past fear, guilt and anxiety. She has such a gentle and caring way of providing the support I need to make some pretty major life changes. I don’t feel blocked by past problems and am truly enjoying finding joy again. Her guidance has been such a gift!”


Guilt is just another name for remorse and sometimes guilt can be productive. However, it can become harmful if it starts to interfere with your life and feels overwhelming. This article contains quotes that may help you gain a different perspective on guilt. If you're still feeling burdened by guilt, consider reaching out to a counselor to discuss your guilt further.

Release the weight of guilt

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