Guilt is often conditioned in you from childhood when you were disciplined by authority figures for being bad. This emotional punishment helps a child know the difference between right and wrong. Every human has some degree of guilt and you don't want to get rid of it because it served a purpose in your developing years. But as an adult, you don't need guilt to regulate your decisions. 

Women in particular are starting to take more leadership roles now than ever, and one major thing that can hold them back in business is how they deal with guilt. Both sexes struggle with guilt, but there has been a lot of psychological research, specifically one published by the Spanish Journal of Psychology at University of the Basque Country, that supports that women feel more guilty than men. If you notice you have a tendency to feel guilty, this could affect your success in three ways. 

1. Guilt of asking for money.

For service-based professionals, guilt can make you charge less for your services and then feel bad if someone is not happy with the service they received. You may even stop the flow of sales altogether because you don't feel good enough to accept someone else's money.

2. Guilt of saying no.

You may have a hard time speaking up when vendors, clients and employees challenge you. I have seen service professionals over-give to clients, allow vendors to take advantage of them and even let slacking employees stay on because of guilt. This leads to exhaustion, working too many hours to please and ultimately suppressing anger from being pushed around.

3. Guilt of success.

Some people feel so guilty about making money that they unconsciously spend everything they receive and go into debt just to reject wealth. They are more comfortable with the struggle because guilt does not allow them to enjoy abundance. You may tend to make poor investments just to lose money unconsciously because of this guilt and then don't realize you are doing it to yourself. One interesting phenomenon I witnessed in female clients is they sabotage success so they don't have to face the guilt of denying financial support to relatives who are less fortunate. If they are struggling too, then no one can pressure them into asking for assistance. 

It may be difficult to overcome guilt.

When I first faced my shadow of guilt, I thought I had to get rid of it completely. I quickly realized that turning cold and uncaring is not the answer either, just the other side of the same coin. When I tried being the polar opposite of the people pleaser and kept rigid boundaries it felt forced and unnatural because it was only a defense. Just flipping behavior didn't help because I still felt guilty. Behavior doesn't change the underlying feeling, it just gives you a better story to tell yourself.

When guilt arises let it be there without judgment. Don't try to push it away or rationalize that it should not be there. Also, don't try to be tough and suppress the guilt and make harsh decisions in defiance of it. The guilt does not go anywhere, it just gets buried deeper and could turn into anger or depression if you ignore it.

Think about directing your will and making decisions in life is like driving a car. If you let guilt drive, you are at its mercy. Guilt can be in the passenger seat if you like, but it does  not need to be in control anymore. When you make decisions, ask yourself, "Is this what I really want or am I just afraid of feeling guilty?" to check in and make sure your higher intellect is driving.

When you shift from being motivated by guilt to being driven by your personal power, you feel much freer and control of your destiny. At first, it will feel uncomfortable to make tough decisions. Some people may feel bad when you say no to them or when you set your boundaries but that isn't your fault.

The old feeling of guilt will try to intervene and tell you to stop and go back because in the past you had been driven by the fear that no one will like you. Frankly, you don't need people around you that want you to fail and to feel guilty about your accomplishments. 

By understanding guilt in a new way, you can work with it, thank it for its service but then become the leader you were meant to be. More good will come out of your success by inspiring others than those few hurt people who don't respect your boundaries and ambition.