Updated: May 20, 2020
This practice has transformed my own life, and now I am sharing it with you.
The difficult part about letting go of guilt is recognizing it in the first place.
This can be hard sometimes because we can be so used to it that we perceive it as a standard mode of operation. Fish living in dirty water its entire life does not know that the water is dirty.
Step 1: Decide to let go of the Victim mindset for life.
To start letting go of a victim mentality, you need to explore some of your deepest global beliefs. Start with the following questions:
- who are you at your deepest core? - what is your very basic nature? - how much does a person have to go through to become a truly justified victim?
Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist, got imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps at his age of 37. For 3 years he lived in starvation, zero hygiene, in the extreme cold under extreme mental exploitation, witnessing the death of his peers every day and burying many of their dead bodies himself. None of us can probably imagine the level of pain he went through.
These are all his quotes:
”Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
-Viktor Frankl, A Man’s Search For Meaning
That is not what a victim thinks like.
He was released from the camp at his age of 40, he had published 39 books, which were translated into 49 languages. He lectured and taught seminars all over the world and received 29 honorary doctoral degrees and died at the age of 92.
Frankl simply never gave up.
Who defines what is possible?
Today, there are guys, who were abused as children, yet still became one of the top Navy Seals and run marathons through the desert, who went through real-life tragedy and now break world records climbing Mt. Everest half-naked, who went from depression to doing 50 Iron Man triathlons in 50 days, who become one of the most influential women in the world despite repeated sexual abuse as a child or become successful and fulfilled even if they were born with shortened legs and no arms (!!!).
All these people have one thing in common: They refused to be victims.
All these people are people like you and me.
Once you decide to take responsibility, once you decide to believe that your nature is one of loving, once you decide that you can always rise above the circumstances of your life, there is nothing in the world that would stop you from becoming what you truly want.
Let go of being a victim. For life.
Step 2: Embrace absolute responsibility for everything happening in YOUR life.
The Drama Triangle (also called Codependency Triangle) emerges as a result of giving up responsibility.
I suffer and there is nothing I can do (victim). Someone else caused my pain (tyrant). Someone else can save me (savior).
The fastest way to get out of all three at once is to embrace the belief of absolute responsibility:
“I am absolutely responsible for everything happening in MY life.”
The statement works both ways — it allows you to take your responsibility back again and it prevents you from taking responsibility for others’ feelings and caretake them.
Using this statement, you are also subconsciously saying to others: “Everyone is absolutely responsible for everything happening in THEIR life.” — meaning you can be neither their Tyrant nor their Savior.
One could argue that the words of others can hurt us. But is it really true?
Is it the words of a person or is it your interpretations of those words that are causing you the pain? Is it the act that creates pain or is it the meaning you made from it?
No one is born a victim. Every victim is self-made and self-healed.
Accepting, that you made yourself a victim is the fastest way to recovery.
You are not responsible for others’ words and actions, but you are fully and absolutely responsible for your interpretations. And your own words and actions.
Even today, the pain caused by your Tyrants is not caused by their words and actions, but by your interpretations of them. You are creating all that stuff in your head.
Yes, originally, you were small and naive. But today, those interpretations are yours. And you can change those anytime.
In fact, it is easy to change them.
What is difficult is leaving the comfort of being a victim — being innocent, morally right, not responsible and entitled to sympathy forever.
It hurts to let that go and suddenly face the world and have your own skin in the game.
But the truth is, that one pain is even greater — the pain of living your life as oppressed, ashamed, hopeless, misunderstood and powerless victim, realizing on your death bed that it was your own game the whole time.
Step 3: Ask new questions and gradually decompose guilt.
Once you feel guilt (fear of being punished), a lot of additional damage is caused by the disempowering questions like “Why me?” or “How can I be so stupid?” or “How could I?”
These questions need to be reversed to undo the guilt conditioning and create feelings of responsibility, empowerment, and love within you.
Next time you feel guilty, stop for a second and ask yourself:
1. “Do I really need to be punished?” Asking this makes you immediately aware of the punishment game, your mind is playing with you. You never need to be punished. All you need is to learn. Punishment prevents learning.
2. “Can I love myself anyway?” Any punishment, in its essence, is a lack of love or you withholding your own love from yourself. Asking this question redirects you towards feelings love and forgiveness for yourself.
3. “Is there a part of me that would benefit from being punished?” Being a victim is the world’s greatest excuse for not taking action. This question allows you to uncover the victim part of yourself that enjoys it. It allows you to see your motivation more clearly and let go of it more easily.
4. (optional) What am I doing to cause this? This question allows you to take your ultimate responsibility back.
Asking these 4 questions will give you different answers than “Why me?” and will not let you go down the guilt spiral into shame and depression.
Turning it into a habit will continually decrease your guilt conditioning, change the way you see the world and ultimately change your life.
Conclusion: You were never guilty, you were just confused.
Guilt is a result of a misinterpretation of a young, naive mind.
It is based on a belief that one deserves punishment for certain behaviors.
The expectation of punishment creates fear.
Fear of punishment = Guilt.
When guilt (fear of punishment) is unbearable, one punishes itself to relieve the fear and clear the balance for the wrong behavior.
It relieves the fear but does not solve the belief, that one deserves punishment for certain behaviors.
Therefore guilt will emerge again and again, self-punishment will always be used to relieve the fear, and addiction to it becomes a result.
The repeated and misunderstood pain will eventually make one give up on responsibility and create Victim, Tyrant, and Savior identities to better cope with the reality.
Once you take your responsibility back again, create a new habit of asking empowering questions, your faith in healing will keep growing until you eventually release the guilt, change the victim-identity into one of a Thriver, Motivator and a Nurturer.
Remember? All-in-one. Always.
You now have all you need to start rewiring your guilt conditioning.
Take a pen and a paper, write: “I am absolutely responsible for everything happening in MY life.” and the empowering questions I wrote earlier.
Put them somewhere you can see it every day and burn them into your nervous system by keeping them at sight and using them daily.
That is how I did it and it worked miracles.
The change is not going to happen overnight. It is the small 1% daily gains that will eventually compound into a massive change over time.
And eventually, you will realize the truth — you were always free of guilt.
You just did not realize it. You could not see it.
You were never guilty. You never deserved any punishment. It was all just a confusion.
This article is part of the Guilt series.
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