Feeling Guilty for Yelling and What To Do About It


  • Guilt/shame are emotions that prevent us from learning about the patterns that lead us to yell.
  • The key to stopping the yelling permanently is to tackle the guilt/shame first.
  • Loosen the feeling of guilt by understanding that you can choose your opinion about the act of yelling. Yelling is bad is not a fact, neither is yelling is good.
  • Try shifting your beliefs about yelling being bad to a more neutral/factual stance like “Yelling is a decibel that’s not the same as conversation” or “I spoke at a certain decibel”.

There is only one reason you feel guilty. It’s because you believe you did something bad or wrong.

When you’re trying to stop doing something, we decide that this thing that we’re trying to stop is “bad”. The same is true when we’re trying to stop eating sugar, drinking alcohol or smoking.

If we label it bad and wrongful, almost like breaking a law, then we think it will help us stop.

But the opposite is true.

Guilt prevents us from learning about why we yell in the first place.

Understanding why we take certain actions (and the pattern) is the key to actually stopping it.

Guilt is a feeling caused by a lot of negative thoughts like “this is wrong”, “what I did was awful”. Shame is related in that the thoughts become about who we are as a person “I’m a bad person, a bad parent”.

When we feel this we aren’t spending the time understanding what lead us to it and the patterns we have established.

Humans love patterns and sure enough, we’ve established them around yelling.

Guilt blocks us and we become stuck. We use guilt to punish ourselves and in the short-term we’re on our best behaviour and then something happens (that pattern we’re not aware of) and we’re back to yelling.

The way to break the yelling-guilt cycle is to start with the guilt – not with the anger. If you’re constantly feeling guilty or ashamed, start with the guilt or shame.

Getting rid of guilt challenges a firm belief that punishment improves behaviour.

That rarely works. The proof is that it isn’t currently working for you to stop yelling permanently.

The simple statement of “yelling is bad” or “I’m bad for yelling” is a subtle way we punish ourselves. But do you notice this is not a fact. Really, think about that.

You probably disagree by listing the studies that show detrimental effects to children. Studies are not facts. If they were then everyone would have the same outcome from having parents who yell.

My mother yelled at me all throughout my childhood and adolescence. And today, she continues to yell at me. The impact for me is essentially I yelled but I broke the cycle when I stopped punishing myself.

You will break the cycle, no matter what age your child is, by doing this work. If my mother stopped yelling at me today it would greatly change the nature of our relationship. I no longer speak to her because of the constant yelling.

Yelling is not life-threatening. It can influence but it’s no different than the other “negative” influences that children and adolescents face – media, television, peers, etc.

“Yelling is bad” is not a fact. In fact, many people believe that yelling is important in raising kids. Many managers and athletic coaches believe its how you’re successful.

When I asked my mother why she yelled at me, her answer: “it motivates you to be better”. She believes “yelling is good”.

There’s no truth in the statement that “yelling is bad” and it then becomes an opinion that you can intentionally decide to believe or not.

I’m not suggesting that you believe “yelling is good” but instead make a small shift away from “it’s bad” or “I’m bad” to a more neutral stance.

For example, if you believe that what you did was “awful”, describe it in a more factual way:

  • Yelling is speaking at a decibel that isn’t the same as conversation.
  • I spoke at a certain decibel.
  • I said words.

When we jump to “awful” and “bad” we can’t shift out of the guilt. But by looking at what we did with a bit more facts to it or neutrality we can ease the guilt and make space for learning about our yelling patterns – which is what will actually help stop the yelling for good.

With shame, try this as a more neutral thought:

“I’m a bad parent” to “I’m a parent”

Notice how you feel when you pick a more neutral thought that feels believable to you. Notice how it can alleviate the guilt and provide a more neutral way to view yelling.

Once you feel the guilt become unstuck you can begin to identity the yelling patterns and stop the yelling for good.

%d bloggers like this: