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  • James McNeil

Three things you should not feel guilty about

“You’ve changed!”

I remember early in my journey to overcome the obstacles I was facing that led to 2 suicide attempts (and almost a 3rd), someone I looked up to said this to me. I was not sure how to respond, so I asked if this was a good thing or a bad thing. His response floored me. He said he preferred the “old me” and that he wasn’t sure what had happened. Bear in mind I had not discussed with many people the journey I was on, so he didn’t know why I had changed. He just knew I had.


I felt better than I had in years, but this comment made me feel guilty “changing” who I was. Looking back on this conversation today drove me to think about why I felt guilty. It also led me to think about other things I’ve felt guilty about in the past that should not cause guilty feelings in me (or you).

1. I was not perfect. While I knew that being human meant I was not and would not be perfect, I still held myself to what I would consider an impossible standard. When I messed up, I would mentally beat myself up over it. This fed into impostor syndrome, and it kept me from trying new things due to the fear of failing. This one led to the next.

2. I needed to ask for help sometimes. To me, being “perfect” meant I should not need to ask for help. Looking back, I realized that the fear of asking for help and the guilty feeling when I did came from the belief that I either did not need it or did not deserve it. This is a journey I am on, and I still struggle with asking for help sometimes. But I am light years ahead of where I was just a few years ago.

3. I wanted to be happy. This may seem a little odd, but the desire to be happy made me feel guilty, especially when someone I looked up to said I had changed like it was a bad thing. And the simple truth was I had changed. And while I knew it was a good thing, hearing the judgmental words from someone I cared about made me feel guilty for trying to pursue happiness.

Have you dealt with guilty feelings for something you shouldn’t have felt guilty for doing? Tell me about it in the comments below. Or go to jamesmcneilauthor.com and email me. While you’re there, pick up a copy of Finding Your Personal Mission or go to the store hosted by Really? Designs and pick up a t-shirt you can use to wear your motivation today!

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