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Free Yourself From Guilt (Part 2)

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Before we start Part 2, I’d like to offer a quick recap of Part 1:

1) The stages of guilt:

Initially anxiety runs high when participating in the activity which over time turns into indifference which can even turn into possible excitement if you don’t get caught, which turns into shock then immense guilt when you finally do get caught.

2) Be true to yourself regardless of what others think:

When you finally decide you want to be free of the guilt that is plaguing your life, others may not support you, but do it anyways.  Take whatever steps are necessary to free yourself, be it a confession to someone, walking away from an activity that has become part of your life, or seeking outside help from a therapist or life coach.

NOTE: See Part 1 for the Action Steps recommended to begin releasing yourself from guilt.

Now let’s get back to Eddy Hellebuyck’s story and see how his road to freedom from guilt continued…..

Although Eddy had passed 10 or more drug test during 2001-2004, the USADA tested Eddy in 2004 and he failed.  That began Shawn, his wife, and Eddy’s 6 years of denial.  They fought the drug test all the way up to the arbitration court in Switzerland and although they lost, they continued publicly to deny that Eddy had ever used EPO’s.  But finally Eddy realized that to gain freedom from guilt and to relieve his conscience he had to tell someone.  That is why Eddy decided to allow the Runner’s World interview.

3)  Hold yourself accountable:

Denial is a tricky defense mechanism that will hold us back.  A bold way to come out of denial is to have the courage to tell someone what you did or are doing.  This was Eddy’s first step.  He knew that once he admitted it to someone else, like John Brant the RW reporter, the forces of the universe would take over.  He was now on a path, however bumpy it might be, to healing.  Admitting the truth to a reporter in his case (or in our case a trusted friend, counselor, support group or life coach) was the motivation he needed to stay on the path.  It wasn’t just admitting, “Yeah, I did it”, but the release of the whole story that paved the way to his ultimate freedom from guilt.

In the weeks and months that followed he faced backlash and criticisms from his wife, Shawn, and former competitors and friends.  Shawn says of Eddy’s confession, “I don’t see what good can come out of this story.  It’s fine that Eddy feels like he needs to unburden his conscience, but it shouldn’t be at our (Shawn and their son Jordan’s) expense.”  Others still claim he is a cheat, self-serving, and scoff at his claim that he was clean before 2001.

The head track coach, Gary Forrest, at the Ironwood High School, where Eddy coaches the hurdlers, has only positive things to say about him, “Eddy has been 100% supportive of what we do here…I’m pretty skeptical about people and think I have a good sense of them.  I’ve looked hard for any hidden agenda with Eddy, and I’ve never found one.”

4)  The reward is personal freedom, regardless of what others think:

As Dr. Seuss says, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  Wisdom is knowing the difference between what we can control and what we can’t.  We can control our decisions and responses but we can’t control others.  As long as we are moving in a positive direction, which includes living a life of honesty, we know we are doing the right thing.   This is a great way to relieve yourself of the fear of rejection and the worries of what others might think.  Who cares.  In the end it is your life, and if you are the one lying awake at night, it doesn’t matter what others may say about you or think of you, freedom from your burden of guilt is more important.  Love yourself and realize it is not within your control how others will respond.

The final thought that Hellebuyck suggests is that the single most effective weapon against doping might be the human conscience and he hopes that his story might help other runners to come forward.  He hopes his son, Jordan, and other young athletes, may be able to compete in an arena that is a little less tainted than what he experienced.  In the end, good did come out of his story.  For Eddy, the freedom he now has from his past.  For us, the realization, that although not always easy, the benefits lie ahead for those of us courageous enough to admit what we’ve done far outweigh living a life of sleepless nights, dishonesty, fear and guilt.

5)  Let your conscience be your guide:

Learn to listen to your conscience, it will keep you out of future trouble.  As you begin listening to this inner guide, you will find that life decisions will be easier.  The first stage of guilt is anxiety.  If you heed this feeling as a big red WARNING sign, turning away from what is causing these feelings, you are saving yourself from future pain.  This is the point where changes can be made easily.  This is the way to use guilt as a positive tool in your life.


Now that you have completed the action steps from Part 1, and you can see the benefits of releasing the guilt, take action.  Seek out someone to help you.  Maybe you need to admit your guilt the wronged person, maybe you need to talk to a counselor, life coach or trusted friend to help you navigate the path.  Maybe you are struggling with the guilt of an addiction and need to join a local support group.  Don’t isolate yourself.  There are people who will support you and love you as you make these positive changes.  Let them.    Realize not everyone will be supportive, but that’s okay too.  Your personal freedom is of utmost importance.  And finally learn to listen to your conscience.  Slow down and use guilt as the tool it was meant to be, and indicator that we are headed down the wrong path and have the opportunity to change it.

WAY TO GO!!  You made it through this long blog post.  I trust that it was helpful and that you will use Eddy Hellebuyck’s example as a blueprint for your own personal freedom from guilt.  If you are struggling with any of these ideas please feel free to contact me at 239-777-3241 and I would love to help you on your path to personal freedom!