How to Overcome Guilt

Masterclass with Insights from Dr. Tanya Holthus (Psychologist, PsyD, LP, RPT, SEP)

It’s common to experience guilt after narcissistic abuse.

Guilt is an emotional discomfort you feel when you believe that you are responsible for something that offended or hurt someone else. 

Some common thoughts you might have if you’re experiencing this are:

  • “I should have done something to stop this.”
  • “I let myself and others down by not recognizing the abuse.”
  • “I could have been stronger and not let them control me.”
  • “I’m responsible for the harm the abuser caused to others.”
  • “It is my fault. I should have left sooner.”

If you can relate to those thoughts, this masterclass could be for you.

Watch Now

  • Warning: This content discusses narcissism and narcissistic abuse. This subject may be triggering for some people. If you find yourself feeling triggered, please click here to watch our Trigger/Flashback Protocol.

If you struggle to stay focused when consuming long-form content, you’re not alone. We’ve found that listening to our content as you read the transcript is the easiest way to stay focused because the audio will keep you on pace with the text. In addition, when you do this, the information is processed by two different parts of your brain, which can give you a more comprehensive understanding and memory of the material.

Dr. Tanya Holthus’ Strategies

We recommend using If/When-Then Plans to implement Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice effectively. Please click here to learn more about this research-backed approach.

First Strategy: Start Using Positive Affirmations

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [4:12] and rewatch Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Second Strategy: Validate and Nurture Your Grief

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [9:50] and rewatch Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created an exercise. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper or something else you can draw or paint on.
  • Colored pencils, markers, or paints.

Important Preparation Note:

Before you begin this exercise, plan an enjoyable or energizing activity that you can do afterward so you can lift yourself out of this space and not be stuck with negative emotions.

1.) Find an Appropriate and Safe Space

Choose a place where you feel secure and comfortable. 

2.) Observe Your Emotions

In your safe space, take a moment to notice your feelings of guilt and grief. Observe how these emotions surface and present themselves without judgment or trying to alter them.

3.) Conduct a Body Scan

Gently scan your body from head to toe. Pay attention to where you might feel these emotions physically. This could manifest as tension, discomfort, or other sensations.

4.) Express Through Drawing

Using paper and some colors, try to express these sensations and emotions through drawing. 

Don’t worry about artistic skills; focus on what shapes, sizes, textures, and colors come to mind when you think about your guilt and grief. 

This visual representation can help externalize and clarify your feelings.

5.) Be Present with Your Emotions

Spend some time with your drawing, allowing yourself to experience the emotions it represents fully, and let your body respond naturally.

This could involve crying, trembling, or any other form of emotional release. 

Doing this lets these emotions flow through and out of your body. It is a way of processing and releasing them rather than bottling them up.

6.) Engage in Soothing Techniques

After releasing these emotions, engage in activities that calm and soothe you. 

This could be deep breathing, light stretching, listening to soothing music, or any calming practice that helps you regain a sense of peace.

7.) Transition with a Joyful Activity

Now, take a moment to acknowledge the effort and strength it took to face these difficult emotions. Recognize your courage in this healing process. 

Then, engage in the joyful activity you planned before you started this activity to lift yourself out of this space and not be stuck with negative emotions.


Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Third Strategy: Examine Your Cultural Norms

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [23:00] and rewatch Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a writing activity based on Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

  • What norms are in my culture that I feel I am supposed to live by?
  • Which do I agree with versus not?
  • Which are okay to negotiate and compromise? 
  • What are the pros and cons of acting oppositely or differently from these norms?
  • How would my friends, family, and community feel about this change?
  • How would it potentially change my relationships?
  • What sacrifices do I need to make to make some of these changes?
  • Are those sacrifices worth it for me for my own health and well-being?

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Fourth Strategy: Imaginary Role-Play Exercise

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [32:45] and rewatch Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Fifth Strategy: Competency-Based Value Exercise

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [40:47] and rewatch Dr. Tanya Holthus’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a reflection activity. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

Step 1: List Your Top 10 Values

Task: Create a list of your top 10 values. If you need help figuring out where to start, please click here to watch our masterclass about reconnecting with your core values.

Step 2: Assess the Origin of Your Values

Question to Ask Yourself“Are these values a reflection of my authentic self, or are they a result of my traumas?” 

If they reflect your authentic self, please move on to the next step.

If they result from your traumas, click here to watch our masterclass about reconnecting with your core values after narcissistic abuse.

It will help you develop core values that align with your authentic self.

Step 3: Evaluate Alignment and Plan Changes

Question to Ask Yourself“Am I living my life according to these values?” If you aren’t living life according to your values, ask yourself, “What changes can I make?” 

Then, try to make those changes. Of course, this is much easier said than done. So, if you need any support, visit the community thread (see below). We’re always here to help.


Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Closing Remarks

Thank you for watching this masterclass!

We hope you found it informative and empowering.

If you have two minutes to spare…

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Take care and see you next time.

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