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When we feel guilty because we have acted against our personal rules and standards and the rules and standards of society, there are concrete ways to let go of the guilt. It often helps to admit the situation and confess what you have done, make amends if necessary, and apologise.

When a person who has done wrong to another person, they want to clear up the matter that hurt the other person.

But apologising is not always easy:

  • Sometimes you can’t find the right words, and sometimes you don’t even realise you’ve offended someone.
  • Apologies can be accompanied by shame, guilt, and fear.
  • Apologising requires us to admit that we are not infallible or flawless.

Learning to forgive yourself can make it easier to apologise.


An apology must be sincere and honest, so that the person offended is able to accept it. An apology made out of habit may cause further offence. Especially when forgiveness is related to a situation where there is a personal experience of being mistreated, sincerity and a willingness to forgive are needed. Such situations include being discriminated against and bullied, abuse by close or important people, or experiences of injustice in general.

A sincere apology also clarifies one’s personal thoughts and values, because apologising involves acknowledging and accepting emotions.

An apology does not undo what has been done, but it shows that the offending person is willing to come to terms with the situation and take responsibility for their actions. Apologising does not mean forgetting the past. It is not always even possible to ask for and receive forgiveness. In such a case, we need to forgive ourselves internally. The person who has been hurt is not always ready to forgive, either. Forgiveness should not be rushed, because saying you forgive someone for the sake of good manners, without a true sense of forgiveness, can be counterproductive.


Getting rid of excessive guilt requires you to get to know yourself. To let go of guilt, you also have to work through your feelings of unworthiness, inferiority, and shame. It helps if you recognise and acknowledge your feelings and are compassionate and kind to yourself.

It is important to learn to let go of over-responsibility and the pursuit of perfection and perfectionism. You cannot and do not need to know everything. It’s also good to stop and think about whether you are really to blame for what happened – whether it was really all up to you.

If the guilt is strong, it can be difficult to let go. If this is the case, you can seek help from loved ones, peer support groups, and professionals.