There’s one simple answer to the question, “Why Should You Resist Guilt Tripping?” and it goes like this: “Because guilt-tripping is entrapment, a manipulative effort to control the guilt-tripped person.” Despite the simple answer, it is difficult to live up to the reality check. That requires insight, courage, and resolve. The support of people you trust is important, too.
Weasel words (ambiguous, misleading statements designed to confuse the listener), hostile body language, insulting facial expressions and other tools of guilt-tripping drama queens and kings, shamers and blamers send people on psychological journeys to hell. The guilt-trippers want to know why the victim isn’t “as good as” someone else being named in the highly emotional conversation, or they announce if that it hadn’t been for you, you wretch, that things could have turned out better. If you’re not feeling like you want to hide or die, yet, the guilt-tripper might plunge more emotional swords into your psyche by asking “Why can’t you appreciate how good I am to you?”
Guilt trippers want you to serve them. They’ll bash your brains with accusations, insinuations, and cold, hard stares – when they’re not punishing your alleged failings by withholding information that you need, physical assistance, and/or other necessities. Those ploys are for making you feel less than a normal human being, unworthy of love, a person incapable of living up to expectations. That those expectations are unrealistic and abusive is not going to stop your guilt-tripper. They’ll devotedly keep up the psychological pressure until you give them what they want: tears, apologies, and a sense of self contempt.
Here’s how to prevent the loss of self respect when you’re being confronted by a guilt tripper, even if it’s a parent, spouse, boss, or someone else:
Strengthen your sense of identity by recognizing your worth. You’re intelligent, honest, hard-working, and a compassionate person. You were not appointed by God to please everybody, and certainly not emotional abusers.
When you need to weep or to speak about your frustration with the guilt-tripper, interact with a confidante whom you trust. Never share your thoughts with a guilt-tripper. They’ll use them as tools to undermine your well-being.
Do not confess any insinuated, inappropriately assumed guilt to your emotional abuser. That tactic leaves you vulnerable to more abuse. Do only what you can to make amends, if that is desirable to you.
Announce to yourself and to your abuser if you wish, that you have limits. Describe those limits as “I will not be ordered about, treated with contempt, or manipulated.” Speak naturally, using words comfortable to you.
If the guilt-tripper continues to be abusive despite your assertive behavior, you’ll need to make plans for limiting, if not ending, their access to you. Get a different job, a divorce, a new set of friends, an unlisted phone number and a privately owned mailbox if that’s what’s necessary. If the abuser continues to bother you, ask a lawyer if you can file charges about harassment and stalking behavior. This is especially relevant if the guilt-tripper calls, mails, or messages you after you’ve asked them to stop doing so. If he or she shows up in your place of employment, social settings, and other areas, without invitation, you have a stalker to deal with.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.