How to avoid taking a guilt trip
I used to be able to get whatever I wanted, if I really wanted it, because I knew how to go about it. It was easy for me to talk to people and somehow end up on the winning end, but there was something about it that confused and discouraged me. It was almost like it was so easy that it was like cheating.
It wasn't until I was older, when I took psychology classes and made new friends, when I realized what this "trick" was: I guilt-tripped.
And where did I get it from? My mother.
My mother is the queen of guilt trips, and it took me many years to even understand the concept of a guilt trip and its power.
guilt trip (n. Informal) A usually prolonged feeling of guilt or culpability.
Idiom: lay a guilt trip on To make or try to make (someone) feel guilty.
When I understood more about guilt trips, I looked back on my past and realized how often my mother would take me on a guilt trip. When I got in trouble once, she dragged my brother along to get me help and said, "Look, now your brother isn't able to do your homework because of you!" There were several little episodes like this that affected me and encouraged me to do her bidding. She's also great at the silent treatment, another thing I didn't really understand until I started dating, and my boyfriends would have a real issue with the cold shoulder.
I am writing this Hub because of a more recent incident. Currently, I am battling between two options for my near future: join a community-organizing, non-profit organization across the country, or stay here in California for grad school. The community organizing group has more appeal to me because it's something new and something I would like to do in my life. Grad school has no real value to me because for what I want to do, I don't need a Masters degree.
But of course, my mother would like me to stay here. I've had several hour-long conversations with her over the phone about this, but no matter how good my reasons are, they're not good enough. It's to the point where I've countered every qualm she has brought up, so now she just says, "I have a bad feeling about it." There's nothing a daughter can really say against that.
Now she's taking drastic measures. She's talking about her health and bringing up concerns that a child can't really disagree with without looking like an ungrateful, heartless brat. However, I'm almost tempted to do it to break free from her grip.
I love my mother very much, and she can be very supportive when she wants to be, but there are times when a person just needs to look at the big picture and analyze what's going on and why.
How to avoid a guilt trip
- Use their words against them. Sometimes what they say is just so ridiculous, it's hard for them to back them up when they actually hear them. Expose to them the situation so they might have a chance to understand what's going on
- Don't show ambivalence. This just encourages them to go on with their campaign, and can undermine your confidence. Be able to say no, listen to what they say, and stand your ground. Sometimes this is enough to ward off guilt and guilt trips.
- Analyze what their intentions are. Do they want the best for you? Does what they say have any sense in it? Or can you see something in what they say that would lead to a benefit solely for them?
- Find a balance. Of course you can't have everything you want, but don't let them manipulate you into their desires.
- Make sure that everyone understands the situation. Maybe things seem weird because the issue isn't completely out in the open and understood. Terms and conditions should be clear.
- Analyze the relationship that you share. Is this something that happens a lot? Are you happy with the relationship that you share? This could be a great chance to make things better. Maybe even therapy is in order.