Guilt Answers

I only lie about smoking, but, sometimes i get strong urges of cheating on my wife!

Hello Pritam, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your concern: I only lie about smoking, but, sometimes i get strong urges of cheating on my wife! I will share some information about the nature of having fantasies such as this in a realtionship. Having a fantasy and acting on it are, the rational mind knows, not at all the same. You’re a grown-up and, unlike your teenage self, you’ve learned to control (most of) your impulsive tendencies. It’s OK to picture having sex with that stranger because you know you’ll never go through with the illicit action. The irrational part of your mind, in contrast, fears that you’re opening a floodgate of desire you won't be able to control. For the concept of infidelity to exist in a couple, both partners must define the relationship as monogamous. In an open marriage, or among people who practice polyamory, there could, theoretically, be no infidelity. However, in committed two-person relationships, the idea of infidelity is highly relevant. Infidelity in fantasy can take many forms. In addition to dreams over which you have no control, there is Facebook cheating, in which you may stalk an ex or allow your imagination to run through scenarios with high school sweethearts. You might also catch yourself daydreaming about a fellow student or coworker during a boring meeting or class or taking a second glance at a stranger on the street who catches your eye. And then there are Hollywood celebrities, the objects of thousands if not millions of fantasies, sexual and otherwise. Do these behaviors constitute infidelity, or do they just represent innocent mental escapades? You can also engage in a more direct form of fantasy infidelity with someone who might pose an actual threat to your loyalty to your partner. People who have "a workplace spouse” may find themselves struggling daily to rid their minds of images in which what has been platonic turns romantic. Fantasy infidelity may strike at an inconvenient moment. Perhaps you're sharing an actual romantic moment with your partner when that fantasized partner pops up in your mind’s eye. Fighting it off only makes the problem worse, and could ruin the moment. Among people who actually do,cheat on their partners,  the causes range from curiosity to the desire for revenge.  But infidelity in fantasy is less understood. We might imagine it as an extension of the personality quality of  openess to experience —the willingness to engage in a variety of forms of mental play.   It’s possible, then, that the people most likely to fantasize about someone other than their partners are simply more likely to fantasize about sex in general. They may also have fewer inhibitions and feel less constrained by the bonds of commitment in a long-term relationship. Even if they never act on the fantasies, they don’t punish themselves for having them. Whether it’s part of your personality or not, when you have these fantasies, does it mean your relationship is doomed? Are you seeking, as the true unfaithful often do, to make up for a relationship that no longer fulfills your needs? Here again, there is little to guide us from the literature on couples, most of which focuses on actual infidelity.   We do know that relationships evolve over the long term and what was once a passionate love affair with your partner might very well have moderated into a warm and mutually rewarding form of companionate intimacy. Rather than finding a new partner, you use your fantasy infidelities to add some spice to the mix. It’s even possible that you and your partner find it exciting to swap fantasies, including those about other people. In either of these cases, fantasy infidelities are not a sign that something is profoundly lacking in your relationship. There is a danger, though, that infidelity fantasies become gateway drugs for actual infidelities. This is particularly true if you’re preoccupied with these images and can’t enjoy intimacy with your partner unless your mind is free to go there. In this case, rather than just try to fight back these thoughts, it might be worth trying to examine what might be prompting them.   How BetterHelp Can Support You If you have realized that guilt is taking over your life and that guilt is overshadowing your joy of life, then contact BetterHelp to be matched with a licensed online therapist who can help you to build different coping skills and address the underlying issues fueling your guilt. Because the therapy is conducted online, you can have it at home or wherever there's an internet connection and at a time that works for you. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.   Best Wishes, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do you deal with guilt after hurting someone?

Hello E, you have experienced an emotional experience, and you may not know or understand why you did this. I can tell you that the feelings that led you to this action did not start at the moment. There are so many circumstances that lead to cheating that you may not observably understand why you did it. Sometimes this is a result of insecurity and needing validation; sometimes, the lack of boundaries may put you in vulnerable situations. Sometimes, it is the experience of how you feel in that moment that is addictive. Once that emotional high is gone, guilt and negative emotions take over. It is easy to beat yourself up and associate negative thoughts with your actions, making you feel guilty and remorseful. The negative things you feel about yourself are automatic thoughts associated with rational thinking. It is easier to think with logic and a rational mindset when your emotions are not present. Forgive yourself and learn from this experience. Carrying guilt and shame only makes you feel disgusted with yourself, and the need to punish is a temporary solution to accepting what happened. You can respect yourself again by realizing that you are human and will have many experiences that you learn from. Maybe you will not always make the right decisions, or sometimes you will say the wrong things. This is a part of learning and growing, and it sounds like you are learning from the experience and behaviors of the person you want to be. You can get to that place, and one way to do that is through a process called Radical Acceptance. Radical acceptance is used in situations that create distressing emotions that lead you to feel guilt and shame. It means accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. This does not mean that you are condoning or embracing what you are and what you are going through; radical acceptance solely means you accept yourself and your current circumstances to move through better and past them. Otherwise, your emotions become distressful, making it difficult to cope. The goal of radical acceptance is to help you acknowledge that you cannot control every aspect of what you experience. Instead, you can accept this lack of control and choose to respond mindfully instead of reacting emotionally. This acceptance can help you move beyond the distress you experience without changing or controlling the situation. Meaning, what happened has already happened, and you cannot control it. However, you can learn and grow from this experience and still be kind and deserving of good experiences despite your past behaviors. Reading about radical acceptance will be a helpful step forward for you. In the meantime, if you feel the need to hurt or punish or harm yourself, here are resources in the US that will help you get through that experience. Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Lifeline Crisis Chat (Online live messaging): https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ If you are not in the US, please reach out to any local emergency service that can help you in experiences where you feel like you want to harm yourself. You are worthy and deserving of forgiveness to yourself, and moving forward in life to desires that you want for yourself. Thank you for reaching out, and good luck.
(MA, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to cope when your mom gets a diagnosis of ALS and is given 5-10 years to live?

How to cope when your mom gets a diagnosis of ALS and is given 5 to 10 years to live? I read where you shared that your mom recently got diagnosed with ALS and you shared that the doctors said that she has anywhere from 5 to 10 years at a maximum to live. You shared that you are only with your mom during the summers as you live out of the country with your husband during the rest of the year. You also shared that you do not know how to balance your new family as a newlywed and your family back home. You shared that you feel guilty and as though you should be there with her. You shared that you do not feel as though you have fully processed her diagnosis yet and you shared that you are not sure how to do that. You questioned, how to cope when your mom gets a diagnosis of ALS and is given 5-10 years to live? Based on your question, I would highly suggest that you try to seek help for your specific mental health needs from a licensed professional counselor and or a licensed professional mental health therapist. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can help you with discuss your personal thoughts and feeling in regards to your mother’s illness. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can support you in assessing your specific mental health needs at this time in regards creating a treatment plan specifically for you in regards to you experiencing thoughts and feelings of guilt because you cannot be with your mother. Your situation is quite difficult and professional are there to help you process your thoughts and feelings in a safe and confidential environment of your choice. Being able to have therapy in the privacy of your home would be useful to you at this trying time in your personal life at this time. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with feeling guilty.  A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decease feelings of guilt. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, grounding techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery as a means of decreasing your feelings of guilt. In an effort to decrease your current symptoms you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate your symptoms and or feelings of guilt. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are feeling guilty, outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing emotional distress in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a local licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist and or a medical provider if needed to properly assess and diagnose your symptoms of feeling guilty, as it can look different for everyone. Emotional distress can be uncomfortable and until it is addressed properly it can manifest into bigger issues in long run. Please remember that mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs at this time. I highly recommend that you contact the Betterhelp team to discuss what specific payment options and payment plans are available for you to access counseling services at this time. Betterhelp does offer financial aid and various other options for individuals who are seeking counseling for their personal and or emotional well-being through the use of affordable therapy sessions. The Betterhelp Platform is designed to be able to assist you better if you contact them directly. Contacting Betterhelp directly is the best way for them to verify your identity and securely help you with your specific account information and needs. When it comes to questions, issues or concerns in regards to the cost of using the Betterhelp platform please contact the Betterhelp team. You can reach out to the Betterhelp team for issues including but not limited to the following: billing issues, account questions and or concerns, and or subscription questions and or concerns.  The Betterhelp members are there to help answer your questions, concerns and or issues, so if you have a question in regards to what the cost would be to begin using the Bettehelp platform you can contact the Beterhelp team members directly to gain accurate information in regards to what payment options are available for you if you decide to join the Betterhelp platform in regards to possibly talking to a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. Please feel free to reach out to the Member Success Team directly by emailing contact@betterhelp.com to discuss what payment options are available for you to use the Betterhelp platform for you counseling needs and or therapy needs at this time. Best regards to you!      
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Is it possible to get back with my ex and regain their trust in me as well as forgive myself?

Dear Berry,   Thank you for your message.   I am including myself with you because even though I have not been unfaithful in the past, I also struggle with forgiving myself and being compassionate towards myself, especially after realizing the mistakes I have made in my life and parts of me that I don’t like.   Shame and guilt almost always go hand in hand. If you’re struggling with an guilt of any kind, you likely have been feeling the shame and guilt for quite some time. Perhaps you’ve been trying to overcome it for years.   One of the most unfortunate aspects of this powerful shame is that it is one of the primary contributors to your destructive behaviors. Shame is a deeply personal – and very painful – emotion. Most people who are feeling shame – regardless of the source of their shame – do everything they can to make it go away – even if only temporarily.   It goes like this: the shame of addiction makes you feel awful, so you self-medicate it with a substance or activity (i.e. your “drug of choice” so to speak, or to run away); you feel better so that reinforces the addictive behavior, but you also feel bad that you gave in and the shame quickly returns, driving you to self-medicate once again.   With each instance of that vicious cycle your self-esteem takes a blow. You may feel out of control, powerless, hopeless, disgusted, angry, or disappointed with yourself. You mentally beat yourself up for not being strong enough to not give in to the urge to use. You feel guilty and worthless.   Also, as your addiction of running away negatively impacts other areas of your life such as your relationships, your finances, or your work, the shame takes a firmer hold on your psyche. Each time your make a promise to quit and don’t, or each time you tried to stay clean and sober only to relapse, the shame was reinforced.   You may have also experience the judgmental, condemning remarks or glances of other people. Those also fuel the powerful shame of addiction.   So, how do you cope with it? How do you get past it?   Following are some important key steps. We can go through them together one by one.   Acknowledge the Shame   First, you need to acknowledge the shame of addiction – and all the pain that accompanies it. And it’s important that you do this without judging yourself. This can be a difficult step but it’s a powerful one. Harsh self-condemnation is difficult to avoid because you’re probably so used to judging yourself – and having others judge you as well.   But consider this – if you were helping someone you care about – perhaps a family member or a close friend – with this, you would most likely be compassionate and understanding. You’d want to provide support and encouragement to this person. So, don’t you deserve the same?   Accept That Your Mistake Doesn’t Define You   Second, in order to overcome the shame of addiction you need to accept and acknowledge that your addiction doesn’t define you (do this in the spirit of not condemning or judging yourself) You are not your addiction. You are not a loser, or a horrible person, or a substandard human being just because you have an addiction.   Everyone you know, whether they’ll admit it or not, has both strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps their areas of weakness don’t include an addiction – but they have others. Does that make them superior to you in some way? No. Just like everyone else you have many strengths as well – don’t discount them. This one weakness – big as it may seem – is not the sum total of who you are.   Start focusing on your strengths. It may be difficult at first because this one weakness seems to overshadow everything else. But, as you begin to recognize and accept that you have many areas of strength, your addiction won’t seem so huge. Also, weaknesses can be overcome – they don’t have to last indefinitely.   Accept Your Imperfect Humanness   Third, overcoming the shame of addiction includes accepting that, because you are human, you are also imperfect. Most people are their own worst critics – and as an addict, it’s especially hard to not be extremely critical of yourself. You’ve made mistakes in your life – and so has everyone else. For whatever reason, you were vulnerable to becoming an addict. That vulnerability is part of your imperfect humanness.   Understand that You’re Not Alone   Fourth, in order to let go of the shame of addiction, you need to realize that you’re not alone in the world. It may feel like it, as addictions can lead to a very lonely life. But there are people who genuinely care and will help you – if you’ll let them. Often, these individuals have walked the same (or a very similar) road as you. They know from firsthand experience what it feels like to battle and addiction. They know that it feels as if you are completely alone in the world – with no one who can even begin to understand what you’re going through.   Reach Out for Help   There are so many people who are willing to help you through this – willing to guide you and encourage you and help motivate you on the road to recovery. They know the painful shame of addiction. They know that it can easily get in the way of reaching out for help. But they also know that, although they could try to convince you that you need to do this, you must be the one to take the first step and ask for help. You need to be ready – and when you do reach out, they’re ready to help you.   The last and final step in overcoming the shame of addiction is to forgive yourself. Choose to forgive yourself for every wrong step you took that led you into your addiction and kept you in it. Most likely, you were doing the very best you could with the knowledge and tools you had at the time.   Now, you have new knowledge and tools. Overcoming the painful shame is possible – once you take that first step.   Please let me know if this make sense and if you are willing to take on this true journey towards healing with me.   Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What is the best method to ask for help from a parent.

Hi there. im glad you want to get help but i hear you that you are concernd about worrying them, burdening them, or getting a negative response. There are always these issues of feeling guilt for possibly burdening them with money stuff and copayments but if you need the help think that if you do this now and not wait for a long time, you will get the help you need and it will not get worse (hopefully) since you will have started the journey to healing...whether its medical or mental health help. and If you need help, whom better to ask for help from than you parents...? they are your parents and hopefully they love you and care about you and if you only knew what was in their hearts...it might be a bit easier to get the help you need. you might feel worried about burdening them or they might judge you or wonder whats wrong but would you rather they do that or not get the help you need?  can you afford getting worse and not getting help when you are ready to get help and dont want it to grow into larger issues? I see it like going to the dentist.  if you dont take care of a little issue it will only get worse over time. so anything that has to do with self care and health, i hope you will have the courage to seek help despite what you might experience as a result. it sounds like you care deeply about your parents and worry about making them suffer and that you want to burden or stress them as little as possible and its kind of you to be respectful and caring about their needs. But just remember that the only person who can best advocate for you is you...they may love you unconditionally and deeply but they dont live in your shoes and thus they will not know how you are doing at every moment of the day or night. even if they wanted to it is difficult for anyone to know what you are feeling or going through unless you tell them.  so please get the help you need and take care of yourself so you can also be good to them if they ever needed your help or support. it is a give and take...one day when you are older and you need to help them, you will be in a good place to be there for them also in the ways you can.  take care and wishing you well in your wellness! 
(PhD, LCSW, LCADC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why can I not find anyone to listen to me?

I appreciate your oppennes and vulnerability in sharing the recent challenges that you have faced in regards to not being confided towards. I'm sorry to hear that you have some dissatisfaction towards your job and living situation. Oftentimes, when life produces and brings about its stressors, we tend to internalize things. This internalization is by no means a judgment on your character, rather, it shows the vicious process that can occur with stress if we leave it unmanaged! Furthermore, it very well can fuel decision making, and was likely a driving factor surrounding influence of selling your home. During these times of dissatisfaction, uneasiness, and uncertainty, the following steps can be of benefit in efforts to promote change.    First, taking the time to prioritize values. Sure, this may be the last things that you'd want to focus on, however, a re-prioritization of our values aids us in beginning to recongize what is most important to us. For example, values may consist of love, belonging, acceptance, and I would argue in your case, acknowledgment. Knowing where you stand aids a person in generating a sense of confidence. Furthermore, it allows them to make proactive steps in ensuring they communicate to themselves, as well as others, what it is that they want. When we're stressed out and things don't go our way, it is quite simple to fall into negative thinking patterns, such as "no one likes me/listens to me." Whether it's intentioned or not, people have the capacities of causing pain to one another: it is inevitable. Despite this, we can use appropraite communication to convey to others times to which we may be hurt/not validated, as well as what it is that we would like from other persons.   Feelings are wonderful advisors, but horrible masters, I often say. Therefore, by allowing these recent feelings to advise future decision making, so to you can begin to make appropriate changes to not only let those in life know of your feelings, but also, be more proactive in response to emotions like anger, and less reactive to them! I do hope that these insights serve as a useful starting point for growth and progress, and thanks again for asking such a wonderful question! Don't lose hope! 
(MA, LCMHC, LCAS)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I forgive

Hi Spidie,  Words cannot express how sorry I am on the recent loss of your son. When a parent loses a child it is one of the most difficult positions to be in. Grieving takes time. Be gentle with yourself as you move through your own grief and know that there is no formula or time table for what this looks like.  The stages of grief include anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages may or may be experienced in the order I listed. A person may or may not experience each stage and sometimes may even find themselves revisiting a stage they were in earlier in their grief journey. All of this is absolutely normal.  Congratulations on the 15 years of sobriety. That is no small feat and definitely something to be proud of! The fight is real when it comes to recovery. As you mentioned every day is a new day to fight the urges to drink.  Every day that you are able to call it a day without taking a drink is a huge win and again something to be proud of especially as you are navigating your grief journey. This is also an important time to look at who is in your current support system; friends, AA, etc. and to not be afraid to lean on these supports when things seem impossible. You mentioned that your criminal background is something that continues to haunt you. So often we continue to pay for mistakes that have happened in our past despite changing our behaviors and thought processes. Having worked directly with incarcerated individuals as well as those getting ready to be released, I am very aware of just how difficult it is to navigate life with a record. This affects every single area of life from employment to where one can live to relationships and pretty much every else. The very past that you are trying to move on from keeps getting brought up and it feels like no matter how hard you are trying to get ahead it keeps pulling you back. When our family of origin or even our family of choice may not be in a position to help us navigate challenges this adds another level of complexity to the struggle. We then have to search out other avenues of support to get our needs met. By reaching out and asking the questions on here, you are connecting with another avenue of potential support.  Sometimes in addition to experiencing external barriers that arise from our previous experiences we also face our own internal guilt and shame for things that have happened in the past. Forgiving ourselves can be one of the hardest things that we take on in life. Forgiving (either ourselves or someone else) is not saying that we are letting what happened be forgotten or the other person (or ourselves) off the hook. Forgiveness allows us to release ourselves from the suffering that comes about as a result of the original experience and to move forward without letting that experience continue to define us. As you know from experience, forgiveness is a huge part of recovery and I would guess given how long you have maintained your sobriety you have been on this journey when it comes to your drinking. I'm curious where you have found yourself on this journey related to your criminal background. Therapy can be a safe space to talk about all the "stuff" that is on your mind and in your heart in a non-judgemental setting. Just being able to get things off your mind and heart can be helpful to give ourselves a break from things. There is power in being able to speak our truth. Remember Spidie, that just the fact that you are standing today is a win. The fact that you have reached out to connect is a win. You are a survivor in many senses of the word and it is your own teancity that has helped you get to this point in life. Although it may not seem like it sometimes, you have more strength that you may even realize.   
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I let myself ask for things?

Hello Moo   The first step in seeking therapy is truly the hardest because it is easy to justify that we are "fine" because other's have it worse but it doesn't mean that our problems are not significant to us and our daily experience. You mentioned that you have to ask your family to help support you in the therapy journey and that you perhaps don't feel worthy of additional support since they have helped you so much but honestly, that shows their geninue care for you and their belief in you seeking what is needed to heal yourself. The asking part though can be difficult.    Feelings of guilty or shame can come from many avenues such as cultural upbringing, how your family things or treated therapy or the idea of needing help and support and lastly from the internal pressure that we put on ourselves to put on a specific persona that we think others want to see. Determining where the guilt and shame come from in regards for asking for things might be a good starting place. You have determined the "why" which is feeling like they have given you so much but now let's look at "where" we started thinking it was not a good place to ask for help. Sometimes these feelings of not being able to ask for help come from early childhood or perhaps a time in your life at any age where asking for help resulted in negative consequences or a negative emotion. It'll be important to target what that is and create healing from that time so that we can know that asking for help is not always associated with a negative outcome. We also want to make sure that in this process of asking for help and recognizing that we need help That we create our own in validation by comparing to others who "may have it worse". Our experiences are very real to us and have real consequences, it doesn't need to compare on a scale of worst to better off. We wanna make sure that our experiences are true to us and that we validate them so that others may validate them as well and only through validation can we create more opportunities for healing and identification of how to ask for help and utilize that help in an effective way. In summary we wanna make sure that we can identify at what point in our lives we determine that asking for help has negative consequences and that we ensure we don't invalidate our own experience. If you feel that you are in need of support for therapy simply let those who may be able to pay for the services know that you were wanting to work on yourself. There doesn't have to actually be anything wrong for you to seek therapy and if you're not ready to share those things with others just saying that you want to work on self maintenance may be enough for them to recognize you were asking for support and some thing you know your mind and body and soul may need. If you would like to work with me please feel free to notify BetterHelp and let them know that Susie Baker is willing to accept you as a potential client. Good luck
(LCSW, ACHP-SW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Massive Shame & Guilt ( Struggling / Spiritually Crippled Youth Christian…

Hi KT,   I am sorry to hear about your struggle and how you are viewing yourself.  I can respect how difficult it is to discuss this and appreciate your ability to reach out for support and assistance during this difficult time.  I am glad you found the courage to do so, as not everyone finds it within themselves to reach out.   Any good and supportive therapist would not judge you or look at you as immoral.  Therapists are meant to be a sounding board and help empower those who we work with.   We all make choices we are not proud of and need to learn to accept them and find a way to move forward.  Another important point of view to consider is to think about how to envelope the past decisions  into your life today and make them part of who you are.  Based on what you wrote, it sounds like this is something you are starting to do.   One of the most important things you may want to think about and consider is forgiveness.  I believe it is important for you to forgive yourself.  To me, forgiving yourself is treating yourself the same way you did before you made the decisions to give a different age to the people you were with sexually.  The concept is called Radical Acceptance and is something you could look up.  In short, acceptance talks about doing just that, accepting what you (or someone else did) and not forgetting or dimissing the pain but accepting and forgiving so you can move forward in your life, not the other person.  Forgiveness and acceptance is for you.  I hope this makes sense.   There is something called The Eight Dimensions of Wellness that you may also want to look up.  In short, it is a concept that our life is made up of eight dimensions that all overlap.  The dimensions are Emotional, Spiritual, Physical, Environmental, Financial, Social, Occupational, and Intellectual.  Each dimension can impact others and each day you may focus differently on the different dimensions and how you are using each one.  If you choose to look it up, you will also find there is a self-assessment you may choose to complete to assist you in identifying if you are relying on one dimension too heavily or not incorporating it into your life the way you would like to.   Another concept is called The Circle of Control.  If you were to draw a circle and write everything in your control inside the circle and everything outside of your control outside of the circle, what would fall where?  Your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviors fall inside the circle.  Everyone else's thoughts, feelings and behaviors fall outside the circle.  Think about what is within your control and what is not and I am going to encourage you to focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot control.  It sounds like to me you are assuming how others view or may view you without knowing.  I say that because of your concern about how a therapist may think of you.  It is important not to push your beliefs of yourself onto others and assume how others think and view us.  Often, how we view ourselves is completely different from how we think others view us verse how they really do view us.  Again, I hope that makes sense.   One last thing I want to mention is something called a behavior chain.  A behavior chain is the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  What that means is that we all have thoughts and those thoughts lead to our feelings or our emotions and the combination of the two lead to our actions or behaviors. When I talk about thoughts I am talking about the sentences or the statements that we say to ourselves—it does not make any of us “crazy.” It is something we all do.  We have approximately 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day so it can be difficult to identify every single thought we have as an individual.  Everytime you have a thought along the lines of what you did, it leads to shame and guilt and you are connecting your neurons in your brain.  Each time they connect, there is a path dug between the two and becomes deeper and deeper and when the thought is had subsconsciously, they still connect and the path deepens so it can become a vicious cycle.  One of the things to do is to try and stop those unhealthy thoughts by picturing a STOP sign or something else that speaks to you.  By obsessing on those thoughts, you are making the cycle worse for yourself.   Ask yourself, what is the purpose of guilt and shame?  Does it get you anywhere or does it simply lead you down the path you mentioned above?  Is that how you think God would want you to live or do you God would want you to learn from past decisions and move through it and forward?   I hope you find this information both helpful and beneficial and I wish you the best in moving forward in your journey.   Best, Erica
(LISW-CP, LCSW-C, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do you really know how to let things go? is there a correct way? What if that way hurts sm1 els

I think sometimes we get caught up in trying to decide if there is a correct way to do something, when ultimately we get to decide the best way to handle something for ourselves.  When you want to let something go, you have to give yourself an opportunity to experience whatever feelings may come up as a result of your decision.  Most people do not seek to purposely hurt someone, especially in regards to making healthy decisions for themselves.  Being at a breaking point can be hard, but remember it is not your responsibility to make people happy.  Everyone is in charge of their own happiness and that responsibility belongs to the person and no one else.  When you decide to let something go, it can be hard and you need to be prepared to mourn the loss of whatever you have decided to let go of.  Do not let the fear of hurting someone keep you from making a healthy decision for yourself.  I know it can be difficult, but sometimes it's necessary.  When making a difficult decision it is best to think about why you want to make that decision or rather why you feel like you need to make the decision.  Once you have that figured out, you can begin to start processing your decision and decide the best way to do it.  Again, there is not a correct way.  Your focus should be on making a healthy decision for you, that will help you have more balance, peace, or whatever it is that you are seeking from making the choice.  When we focus on making choices to make other people happy, we do ourselves a disservice.  There is nothing wrong with being transparent with the people you care about and letting them know that you have been struggling with a decision or with letting something go.  Let them know that you care about their feelings and happiness, but you still need to make healthy decisions/choices for yourself.  This way you have been honest, and you have left the door open for them to be transparent and honest with you as well.
Answered on 01/20/2022

Dealing with guilt leaving an abusive relationship

Hello Coraluru, Guilt is a powerful feeling in that, much like you have experienced, it can compel us to do things we would not otherwise logically want to do.  It’s not practical to take emotion out of our decision-making abilities as it helps us understand urgency and empathy but let’s try to view things in your case logically for a moment.  From the information you have provided, sounds like you have been helping your husband recover from a major medical illness/condition which can be tough on anyone as it takes all your time and energy into helping that person get better.  When you put all of yourself into their recovery, you find yourself and your needs being placed on the backburner.  This is where negative thoughts and guilt breed: I shouldn’t be doing something for myself as they may need me, if I can get them to a point where they are independent, then I maybe I can have time to myself, if I work harder then maybe we can get back to normal.  If you already had a tough relationship prior to this, as you described as emotional abuse, then this process was, even more, trying for you.  When we are with someone who is critical of us and demeans us on a constant basis, this typically means that this individual is deeply unhappy with their life and will then bring their partners down as a way of externally controlling our environments.  When that same emotionally abusive person falls ill, then this sort of unhappiness and general life dissatisfaction multiplies.  You are being caught in this cycle of abuse where he is kind and then he’s not and then it repeats, and it is difficult to see any way outside of it.  Then, this is when guilt takes over our logical thinking and tells us we feel like we are giving up, abandoning them, and avoiding our problems.  Logically, here are the facts: you feel stuck, trapped, abused, resentful, and you can’t get a moment's mental rest having to endure this day in and day out.  I would say you have a choice here, and it is a choice: you can stay in this relationship and you BOTH can work towards fixing it OR you can leave keeping in mind that your happiness has been on the back burner for years and has been left that way due to being told that it doesn’t matter.  When you have spent 12 years in a position where you are told and made to feel like what you feel and what you don’t want don’t matter, then this person has conditioned you to respond to guilt.  As guilt is such a powerful emotion, they only need to tap on that inner guilt button they installed in you, and poof, you are theirs to control.  Do not start telling yourself things like “I’ve let this go on too long and I should have done something different years ago.”  This kind of thinking is a program response again by the emotionally abusive partner.  When we make them feel helpless, then they can’t help themselves.  But you can help yourself.  In these situations, it’s not easy to see a way out of it but, there is.  It’s best not to think out a plan too far out as you can talk yourself out of them, but if you want to leave set a realistic time frame for yourself with a safe place to leave.  You set the amount of communication that you want to maintain with this person and try not to tell them where you are as they will try absolutely everything to get you back, primarily with that guilt button.  It will be difficult initially, but this is where you can write yourself a little script to pull up and read in moments of self-doubt: I can and do deserve happiness and I am going to be that happiness!  I can’t make the guilt go away, but you can.  You can tell yourself what you want and if you start to look at reasons to talk yourself out of it, then recognize that is the guilt coming up.  I hope you continue your life and be your happiness!
(MA, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Hard time leaving my dark past behind me/ ( bad decisions I’ve made that I regret)

Hello, Thank you for reaching out and sharing your worries. Sometimes it may be difficult for us to move on from things we have done in the past.  The regrets and guilty and shameful feelings keep playing in our head over and over.  We punish ourselves often. What would you say to a friend or loved one if they did the same, or similiar, things you have done?  Would you be supportive, kind and caring; or harsh, judgemental and critical?  If you can show compassion and love to someone else, can you not show yourself the same grace? God is a forgiving God and speaks of this throughout the bible.  The bible says, when we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (John 1:9).  If we recognize that we have committed a sin and sincerely ask for forgiveness, God will remove all sin "as far as the East is from the West".  In other words, God will forgive, forget and wipe our slate clean.  If He can do this, we need to be able to do the same with ourselves. Not knowing what exactly happened, I'm not sure if your past actions caused any harm to others or resulted in any consequences.  If it did affect others, could you go back and apologize (either by phone, message, letter or in person)?  Could you fix anything or make things right in any way?  Again, not knowing the details, I'm not sure if this is possible but may be a consideration.  Sometimes when we have done things in our past that we regret, we can go back and make things right with other people we may have hurt in some way. Have you tried journaling about your thoughts and feelings?  That may also help ease your conscience.  You could even try writing a letter to yourself about forgiveness?  Researching the topic of forgiveness, either through a Christian perspective (in the Bible) or online about the topic in general, may give your comfort, as well.  Knowledge is power. All this being said, I would welcome the opportunity to speak more about this with you.  May you find comfort, healing, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
(M.Ed., LCPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to deal with parents after a sudden death in the family which created a distance in our relation

Hi Aru, I can relate to your experience.  I too lost my grandmother in my teens and she was a powerful loving matriarch in my family.  So i know first hand how hard this is.  The process of grief is different for everyone.  I am attaching some information on the grief process so that you can figure out where you may be in this process.   https://www.siue.edu/counseling/pdf/stages%20of%20grief.pdf Next, I would like for you to explore your relationship with your parents prior to the loss.  Did you have strong connections to them?  If you did not, then that is what needs some work, just building that connection.  For this, I really would advise you to engage in therapy so that you can define what kind of relationship you would like to have with them?  Are there old hurts that need healing? If you had a good connection with your parents prior to the loss, then I wonder have you been able to process the loss of your grandmother with them?  How are they grieving?  Does it seem to you like they have not grieved or have moved on?  I also wonder if you are not allowing yourself to feel a deeper conenction to your parents as you really fear that by doing so you feel that you will be letting go of her in some way.  Maybe if you form a deeper connection with your parents, you feel that you would be replacing your grandmother and that may bring some feelings of guilt.  If this is true for you then I would suggest thinking of something you and your parents can do to honor your grandmother.  Ideally this will be something that you all can do on a regular basis.  Think about holiday time or religious occasions, are there things your grandmother always did that you can engage in with your parents?  When is her birthday?  Is there something special you all can do every year to honor her?  This will enable you to feel connected in a special way to your parents and your grandmother.   Lastly, some people are so afraid of letting go their loved ones so they do not move forward in their lives.  One of the things that some of my other clients have done which they found helpful was talking openly to that loved one.  That way, you feel that she is always with you and sharing your life.  I hope this helps.    
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to deal with guilt from feeling selfish for putting myself first

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with guilt with your situation with your mom and it definitely sounds complex.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific guilts you have with your mom.      Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of difficult situation.       As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Does it ever get easier, dealing with guilt?

Does it ever get easier, dealing with guilt?   I read where you shared that you feel like everything that has happened in your life has been your fault; You shared that you also feel like you did not do enough, you shared that you did too much, then you shared that you felt like you did not do anything. You also shared that you have had two abortions and you feel like you cannot help but think that you have somehow committed an unforgivable sin.   Based on your question, I would highly suggest that you try to seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist to discuss and process effective strategies and techniques that you can use to discuss how your feelings of guilt are continuing to affect your daily life. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can help you fully share your personal thoughts and feelings in a safe and confidential setting to process what triggers your thoughts and feelings of guilt. Along with discussing your personal thoughts and feeling of guilt, you can also openly discuss and process your personal thoughts and feelings about how your 2 abortions make you feel like you have committed an unforgiveable sin. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can help you develop coping skills to alleviate and or manage your symptoms of guilt with therapy.   When it comes down to how an individual deals with guilt and or innocence, there are several factors that can come into play when it comes to the actual verdict of guilt or innocence when it comes to internal processing and decision making. Each individual is able to decide mental guilt or innocence. The human brain is very sophisticated and we can encompass the ability to decide our own personal guilt or innocence. Everyone can experience mental stressors and or emotional distress that can occur on a daily basis until a situation can be resolved which can led an individual to feel guilty or innocent with their thoughts and feelings. We have to be mindful to take the time to actively process how we can uniquely define the understanding of guilt and innocence when it comes to our thinking.    Our thoughts are very important to our everyday feelings, emotions, behaviors, and or actions. As we go through our every day lives, we can experience a situation where we have to decide if our thoughts, experiences and or actions are guilty or innocent. Guilt can be seen as an internal representation of how we judge ourselves self consciously. I can be seen as an internal struggle in the mind where someone is determining how they are going to be affected by their conscious mind. In term of feeling like you are mentally guilty or innocent. Individuals’ can usually experience thoughts, feelings, behaviors and or actions due to feeling guilty after engaging in the following situations or instances that include but are not limited to the following: inappropriate behavior by the individual, negative actions by the individual, failing to speak up about an issue or topic, speaking up about an issue or not, losing interest in something and or someone, finding interest in something or someone etc. Ultimately, there are several factors that can affect how we perceive our internal thoughts of feeling guilty or innocent due to the circumstances of the situation at hand. Therefore, each individual has the ability to decide if they feel guilty or innocent in regards to his or her thoughts, feelings, behaviors and or actions.       Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with feelings of guilt.  A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decease feeling of guilt based on your past personal decisions at the time. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can also introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques positive interpersonal relationships and imagery as a means of decreasing your thoughts and feeling of guilt that continues to cause you to experience emotional distress.   In an effort to decrease your thoughts and feelings of guilt you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate and or manage feeling guilty. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems, so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are triggered to feel guilty, about your past personal choices outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing your thoughts and feelings of guilt in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well-being.   Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist to properly assess your symptoms of feeling guilty. It would also be a great idea to talk to a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist openly in regards to your personal thoughts and feelings about how your thoughts and feeling of guilt have affected your life and relationships with others. Please remember that mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in reference to your personal struggle with your thoughts and feeling of  guilt about the past that continues to cause you emotional distress at this time. Best regards to you!  
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why don't I feel guilt?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with feeling as though you should feel guilt about your relationship.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have about finding a physical connection outside of this and/or being single.      Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with these kinds of questioning feelings.      As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I heal from past trauma?

Healing from past trauma is often very difficult and looks different for everyone. When thinking about healing, it is important to think about what this might look like for you. Some people heal through acceptance, others from forgiveness. Some heal from repentance, while some heal by making amends. This is a non-exhaustive list and many times there is any combination of these aspects in healing from trauma. With you specifically, it sounds like you have experienced trauma in your life at an early age. It can be very helpful to work with a professional to start the process of healing from early trauma and continually work to address all aspects of trauma throughout your life. It also sounds like a lot of your trauma involves your father. This creates a new aspect to the trauma as it involves a person who is supposed to be looked to for care, protection, and nurturance. When this happens, there is an added component of a type of moral injury on top of the trauma. What makes this a little more difficult to heal from is that your father has passed away which may cause you to think that your opportunity to heal from this trauma and moral injury is gone. Although it is common and very normal to think this, it is not true. In treating the trauma that you have suffered, there is a variety of options and ultimately it will be up to you to discover which option you would like to attempt. There are evidence-based treatments for PTSD that are widely used and are very effective in treating PTSD. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a good option if you are able to think of one (or a couple) of specific events that you consider to be traumatic and would like to work on. Prolonged Exposure (PE) is another good option for this type of trauma. There are additional types of therapy that have proven to be effective in treating trauma (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), etc.) but ultimately the first step is to find a therapist who is knowledgeable on treating trauma and educating yourself on which form of therapy will work for you. It may seem like a lot and even reading this small reply to your question can be overwhelming. That is ok. Experiencing trauma can have a lasting impact that develops and changes your way of thinking about yourself, other people, and the world over time. Treating trauma is also a process that can take time to start to notice a positive change, but change is possible. You can find ways to heal and move past this trauma and begin to focus on yourself and your future. I hope this response was helpful, and I wish you the best of luck in your path to healing.
(PsyD, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I cope with this yearing and sorrow?

Hi Lauren,  Thank you for reaching out with this question. l will try to offer some help based on what you wrote in the description. It sounds like you have a lot of regret and are still grieving the loss of your relationship. If we were working together I would ask you some clarifying questions about your current situation as well as the past.    For instance, are you still using? Have you been sober? Are you participating in a recovery based community? Is your current partner supportive and do they feel safe for you to open up with? These questions are essential in learning how you are being supported right now. When we feel less supported we tend to think back to times we thought were better--regardless of if those times were actually good or not.    Seperate from your substance use, any time a relationship ends we are in a place of grief. I think about it as a death, but its worse because that person is still walking around going on with their life. There is a grieving process with break ups and divorces as well. When grief lasts for years we call that complicated grief and it means that you probably need some outside help in moving through that grief. Even though it has been a long time, you can get to a place where you feel okay about what happened. One thing you can do in the mean time is to remember the reasons why the relationship was not good and was not going to work out anyway. For instance, maybe your ex was really bad at communication, maybe they were manipulative or abusive in some way. Perhapse they only showed up if they could save you.    The last thing that I would ask you about is if you have worked through a 12-step program with a sponsor. One of the steps is making amends. There are a few ways to do this. One way is to write a letter or talk to the person you harmed. It is a difficult process of taking responsibility for your part in conflicts and unhealthy things you have done. I wonder if you had a chance to make ammends with your ex. I would not recommend doing this without doing the work of processing your grief and without the support of a therapist and/or a sponsor. It is a delecate situation and it is really important to have support.    I hope that you have found this answer helpful. I also hope that you find a licensed counselor who can help you through your grief and all of these complicated feelings and experiences you are going through. 
(LMHC, CSAC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I learn to accept my feelings of guilt?

  Hello Dia,   Thank you for reaching out on this platform to as - How to learn to accept your feelings of guilt.  I commend you for taking the first step towards your journey in healing.   I will share some details about guilt and how you might benefit from reaching out for some professional support in the form of mental health therapy as well as sharing some tips on what you can do on your own to manage some of your feelings and thoughts which may be causing you some stress.   Most people experience guilt after making a mistake or doing something they regret.   The effects of guilt are often uncomfortable. They might include sadness, sorrow, or physical discomfort. It’s not uncommon for people to be angry or frustrated with themselves. But these effects can guide people toward change.   People who have strong feelings of guilt may find themselves stuck on these feelings. Chronic or excessive guilt can be hard to overcome. If feelings of guilt have a negative effect on your life, and you are struggling to work through them alone, a compassionate counselor can offer help and support.  A therapist can help examine and sort through guilty feelings, uncover any guilt that is out of proportion to the mistake, and help the person address the guilt in a productive way. It’s also possible, in therapy, to explore ways to fix a mistake or wrong and work on preventing it in the future.   You may also want to consider couples therapy as an option at some point to address some precursors if there are any issues in your relationship.   IS GUILT A GOOD THING? Guilt is an emotion, so rather than thinking of it as something good or something bad, it may be more helpful to consider its effects. Because guilt relates to a person’s moral code, guilt can act as a sort of check that helps someone recognize the effects of choices they’ve made. If the choice had a negative impact, they might feel regret and decide to do better in the future.   Consider a person who runs a red light. If nothing happens, they most likely feel relieved. “No one was there, and I didn’t get a ticket,” a person might think. But then they might think about other possibilities. “What if I hit another car? What if someone was crossing the street and I couldn’t stop in time?” They may begin to feel bad when considering other things that could have happened and tell themselves they’ll be more careful in the future.   In this way, guilt is linked to empathy and a feeling of responsibility for how actions affect others. It is also believed that people who were more prone to guilt were more likely to be trustworthy. When a person’s actions affected others, they were more likely to act in ways that were sensitive to the effects of their choices.   Guilt isn’t always helpful, though. When guilt results from a person’s belief that they should do more or be better at something, rather than a mistake they made, it can cause distress.   For example, a busy parent may feel guilty when they pick up pizza for dinner, leave housework undone, or speak sharply to their child when stressed. They may believe a “good” parent should be able to take care of the cooking and cleaning and never snap at their children. Even if they know it isn’t possible for them to take care of everything around the house all the time, they still might feel guilt, since their reality conflicts with their ideal of a good parent. When this kind of guilt isn’t addressed, it can have a negative impact on life.   Guilt is known to relate to mental health concerns.  Shame is also known to be linked to social anxiety.  Though guilt was not correlated with this issue, it’s important to note that excessive or chronic guilt can contribute to feelings of shame. Guilt can also cause people to struggle with romantic or professional relationships and day-to-day life. When not addressed, feelings of guilt can build and lead a person to feel worthless, discouraged, or hopeless.   COPING WITH GUILT   Sometimes guilt can become so strong it makes it difficult for a person to get through each day. They may struggle to connect with their loved ones, maintain a relationship, or stay focused at work or school. Over time, they may also have feelings of anxiety and depression, or struggle to recognize their own self-worth. People try to cope with guilt by rationalizing their actions or telling themselves the behavior didn’t really matter. This can help ease guilty feelings temporarily. But if guilt isn’t addressed, it’s unlikely to go away for good.   Talking over what happened with a trusted friend or loved one can help reduce guilt. Owning up to a mistake and apologizing may be enough to ease guilty feelings, in some cases.   But when feelings of guilt affect daily life or relationships.  It is important to reach out for help. A therapist can’t fix your mistakes or change you. They can help you work through emotions and explore ways to create change. Therapists can also help normalize guilt. If you feel worthless or believe you are a bad person, a therapist or counselor can help you come to terms with the fact that every person makes mistakes from time to time.   THERAPY FOR GUILT   Therapy can often help people work through guilt. But the most helpful type of therapy will most likely depend on the cause of the guilt. In all cases, a therapist is likely to begin by working with the person seeking help to understand what contributes to their guilt.   Chronic guilt linked to an overly strict upbringing or other family-related factors might improve after these underlying factors are uncovered and addressed in treatment.   Treatment for post-traumatic stress may help people who experience survivor’s guilt after trauma. (You mention some details of boundary violation in your discussion).    Guilt linked to a mistake or choice may improve after the choice is addressed or the behavior is changed. For example, a person who was unfaithful in a relationship may (with a willing partner) decide to attend couples counseling and recommit to the relationship.   Feelings of guilt and shame linked to mental health issues such as anxiety may improve when the condition is treated.   People with guilt linked to abuse, assault, or other traumatic violence may struggle to accept that what happened wasn’t their fault. Trauma therapy may help a person to reframe the event, understand they did nothing wrong, and begin to heal from the trauma.   People with mental health issues may feel guilty over their actions or behavior, though they may not be able to fully help them. A person with depression can’t help feeling depressed but might feel guilty about the effects their depression has on their relationships with family and friends. Counseling can help treat both the mental health concern and help the person develop greater compassion toward themselves.   Counseling for guilt and shame typically involves the concepts of acceptance and forgiveness. It’s natural to make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can hurt others. Whenever possible, attempting to fix the mistake or otherwise making amends may be a good first step. Doing so can reduce feelings of guilt.   Forgiving yourself requires honesty and self-acceptance. Clearing away the veil of guilt allows us to be more connected to what it is that we are experiencing, our thoughts, and our actions in light of that experience and, thus, to be more present with our experience, our emotions, and ourselves.    I hope you are able to reach out for some professional help and guidance with your situation.  A therapist will be able to support you with your stressors around your guilt.  During this process, you perhaps can explore together how to navigate potential couples therapy as part of your recovery journey.   I wish you the best of luck with your next step in reaching a calm state of mind for yourself!   In Kindness, Gaynor       
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Idk if I should stay in ga with my Elderly disabled mom or move from ga to ky to be with my teenage

As we go through life, we often face difficult challenges which often cause us to have personal struggles as well as potential issues with others in our lives such as family, friends, and associates.  Therefore, at times are not sure how we approach challenges that come our way.  As I read your question I first want you to know the concern you have for this situation is commendable.  Too often in our society we take steps very quickly and in the end, the consequences result in adversity, and we have regrets.  To further help you I would need further information regarding the situation, which we would gather during a first session.  I will state the questions first and then I will follow with some explanation as to the value of the questions.  You state that you help take care of her.  Who else is involved and how do they feel about your potential departure?  Also, how do your children feel?  Are there options for you to take that would allow you to be in Ga. part of the time?  I also would want to explore the guilt feelings that you would have or are having.  Also, what is the motivation to need to take care of your mother?  The reason I ask these is it is important to seek out and find all the potential elements and the emotions that are involved.  For example: If you are taking care of your mother because of feelings of obligation driven by someone else it could be unhealthy for you to stay in that situation.  So, we would work to establish that.  Sometimes spiritual beliefs or cultural traditions are factors as well.  We would also look at alternatives.  At times it is possible for a person to share their time between places.  This would depend on logistics however it is a potential to look at and allow you to fulfill both areas of concern.  The other is the children.  Is it possible that they would support you in you not being with them and caring for the mother is something they are very supportive of? Sometimes We have such an emotional attachment that has developed early on that it makes it very difficult to make decisions but can be worked through as you process in session.  I hope this helps in your decision!
(LPC, BCCC, CADC-ll)
Answered on 01/20/2022