Living for Other People’s Expectations: Learn to Overcome the Guilt While Coping with Family Pressure

Many people have guilt when it comes to their family. Whether you are a mother, wife, daughter, aunt, or niece, you probably have at least one thing that you frequently feel guilty about. In a family that puts a lot of pressure on you to be perfect or more than you feel yourself to be, the added guilt that you feel for not living up to their standards can be overwhelming.

Recognizing What is Not Your Fault

Your first step in overcoming the guilt that comes from the pressures of family is to recognize what is not your fault. Look at your accomplishments and actions objectively rather than from your family’s point of view. If a reasonable person would have reacted the same way that you did to a situation or problem, then you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

Often the guilt that we feel has more to do with other people’s impressions than our own. It is important to recognize that you are not responsible for the reactions, thoughts, or feelings of others. If you are comfortable with your decisions and your actions, then you should not allow yourself to feel guilty based on the perceptions of others, even if they are your family.

Recognizing What is Your Fault

Of course, everyone does make mistakes. Recognizing what you have guilt about what you truly did wrong is also important. However, it is equally important not to dwell on it. You cannot allow yourself to carry the guilt of past mistakes with you throughout the rest of your life. You will need to let that guilt go.

One of the best ways to alleviate guilt in family matters is to apologize. A sincere apology is only the beginning. Working from that point forward to show the family member or members that you are working hard to be worthy of their love and respect, showing them appreciation for all they do, and working to better your own personal life are all ways that you can extend that apology. When you take action such as this, you can put some of that guilt aside.

There is Help

If you are unable to cope with the guilt you are feeling about your family, or if your family is making your guilt worse, you may need to seek outside help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great way to become more aware of your feelings, why you have those feelings, and overcoming them to live a better and more peaceful life. Any licensed therapist can help you through the process of cognitive behavioral therapy.

If you’re worried about others finding out that you are going through therapy, there are some very good options available to you. There are several websites such as that offer online counseling. This is just as effective as traditional therapy, but allows you to participate in therapy at your convenience and in complete privacy and confidentiality. If you are pressed for time or don’t want word of your therapy getting back to your family, online counseling is a good option.

Written by Marie Miguel

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Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.