We all have those people in our lives…You know the ones who make us feel guilty on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s your mother, a friend, or a spouse. Whoever it is, it makes you feel miserable. Would you like it to stop? Here are some tips on how you as the “guilt trippee” can deal with those people in your life that conduct the Guilt Trip train, as I call them in this article “guilt trippers”.
1. Recognize your feeling of guilt (anger, sadness) when it comes on.
During an encounter with your friend or loved one do you feel like you’ve been coerced into doing something you did not want to do in the first place? Do you feel that if you say “no” it will damage the relationship?
2. Understand that you are being manipulated.
More than likely this guilt tripper has done this to you (and probably others) before. They have not been called out on it and get what they want if they lump on the guilt. Unfortunately, the guilt tripper has learned how to manipulate others rather than going about getting their needs met in a healthy way.
3. Acknowledge that this feeling of guilt means that a boundary needs to be set in place.
It is not healthy for you to harbor negative feelings towards another person. After so long, the guilt trippee can begin to become bitter towards the guilt tripper. In order to prevent further damage to the relationship it is going to require you to do something different.
4. Clearly express your feelings and put up your boundary.
Here comes the meat and potatoes of Communication 101 in counseling…You are going to have to “confront” your guilt tripper. Many struggle with the concept of confrontation. Understand that confrontation when done in a healthy beneficial way is not becoming loud and/or violent. Anger is not a sin. However, how you handle your anger can be. Begin with an “I statement”. “I feel __________ when you ___________.” This way you are owning your feelings. You are not coming off as accusational. If the guilt tripper does not respond positively to your feeling statement, continue with putting your boundary into place: “I will not be able to __________ the next time you ask me to ______________.” Here comes the hardest part of all for the guilt trippee you will have to enforce your boundary.
5. Enforce your boundary
Because guilt trippers are well-practiced, you will have to be firm and unrelenting with the new boundary you have created. Once again, this means stating your boundary without malice. Understand that you do not have to explain yourself, only put up the boundary. The more words you use the more likely the guilt tripper will focus on something you said and try to manipulate it to their advantage.
A final note…
Please understand that people who are guilt trippers are not all “bad people”. Most of the times these people have not been modeled healthy communication to them and/or they have had controlling people in their lives that has forced them to get their needs met in more subtle ways.