5 November 2012

This post will look at the effects of guilt and how to overcome them.

A Guilt Trip is when someone tries to get you to feel guilty.


We already know that Guilt means you broke one of your own highest standards.  The Self-Protection Reaction to Guilt is to punish yourself.  Your emotions punish you for two basic reasons.  One is to try to make you stop.  The other is to deny that the behavior is who you really are.

We also know that the rule needs to be evaluated.  We may feel guilty even though we did nothing wrong.  If that is the case, then the rule needs to be changed.  Language of Emotions 101a teaches one of the most powerful techniques for changing rules.  There are others as well.


Often, we really did do something that is wrong – at least wrong for us.  Others may or may not hold the same standards, and maybe the particular rules that apply to you need not be followed by most others.  But, whatever the reason, they are your rules for you – and you think they are good rules.  To you, you did something wrong.


The Point of No Return is the key technique to keep to your own highest standards.  If you pass the Point of No Return, maybe you’ll stop, but if you do, it will take something outside yourself to do it.  Someone may have to stop you for you.  You might have to run into an obstacle, or get caught, or, or, or.  Whatever it is, it is not you simply making a choice.  The Point of No Return is where you can still decide – without outside influence – to hold to your standard.


There might be absolutely nothing wrong with the whole range of behaviors between where your draw your line and the bad behavior you’re trying to convince.  The only reason you hold that line is because, for you, you will slide off the cliff if you don’t have help.


Where something does not tempt you at all, the Point of No Return is exactly at the edge of the wrong action.  You can literally face every opportunity and not do it.  All of us, though, have a “chink in our armor.”  All of us have our weakest area – that area where our own Point of No Return is some distance away from the bad act itself.


Guilt Trips are an effort to make you believe you’ve violated one of your own highest standards – even if you haven’t.  Guilt Trips have two parts.

    1. They try to get you to accept a standard that they set. 
    2. They try to convince you that you violated that standard.  If you did not feel guilty on your own, chance are the guilt trip is being used in a sometimes blatant attempt to manipulate you.


When someone tries to Guilt Trip you, take a look at what they are saying and evaluate it yourself.  If you don’t think you have a reason to feel guilty, then you can stop a Guilt Trip most times simply by calling them on it.


Few people are willing to admit that they are using Guilt Trips to manipulate.  The first time you call them on it, just ask them “Are you trying a guilt trip?”  Most people will back off.  If they continue, you can follow up with something like “It still seems like you’re trying to use guilt to manipulate me.  Are you?”  Since to continue, they might be both admitting they are using a Guilt Trip and also trying to manipulate you, almost everyone will stop.  If they persist in Guilt Trips anyway, you might need to make some changes in the details of the relationship.


There may be some reasonable basis to what they are saying (even if they are exaggerating it).  In that case, you can make a deal with them that is reasonable and balanced.  If, for example, an older parent want you to write, call, email, and come visit frequently, more than you can or would choose to, you can make an actual deal.  You can discuss how often you can talk, email and visit.  If the parent is the one with more time, you can even set it up so they initiate since you’re the one that’s busy (and likely to forget).


If you really did so something bad, the Point of No Return might help you not do it again.  If you make a good deal, even once-valid Guilt Trips should no longer work.  You may still find that you need to forgive yourself.  For easy things, the Forgiveness lessons in Language of Emotions 101a may be enough.  If you have a deeper need than that, the full exploration and guidance in Pure Power 101 might be in order, and possibly the extra tools you have available in Pure Power 202.

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