Dr. Laurie Santos had renowned life coach and author Valorie Burton on her podcast to talk about guilt and how to deal with it.
Burton explains how guilt feels like a debt that we owe. We feel compelled to pay something back. Sometimes it’s warranted, and sometimes it’s not.
She uses a “PEEL” strategy to look closer and figure out what action to take next. You may find this as useful as I did – take a look.
P: peel back the guilt trigger
E: examine the thought
E: exchange any lies for truths
L: list your supporting evidence
Here’s an example:
Your boss (or mom, or partner, or kid, or…) says, “why can’t you get this done on time?” And you feel the pang. You know the one.
P: peel back to under the statement that is triggered the feeling. You are here. Sit for a minute and take a breath.
E: examine the question. It is asked to you, about a task, and the timing of its completion.
E: exchange any lies for truths. Is the task reasonable? What about the timeline? How about the expectation?
L: list out how are you addressing each category
The result of the PEEL strategy is to determine if the guilt is “true” (yeah, I was slacking) or “false” (now wait a second, why are you trying to mess with me).
False guilt is dirty pool. True guilt is a chance to be a better person. Know how to spot them both. And avoid false guilt like the plague, because its a killer.
I highly recommend this full interview, “When guilt is good… and when it’s not” on The Happiness Lab podcast.