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  • TLC The Life Clinic

Guilt Trip! I guess it’s fine if you don’t want to read this

Did the title make you feel like you needed to read this post, or you may regret it or feel guilty for not doing so? That is an example of a guilt trip. A way of emotional manipulation in which someone uses specific wording and tone to trigger feelings of guilt. The goal is to impact how other people feel, think and behave. This act can be done knowingly or unintentionally; the result is that the other person will change their response to make the guilty feeling go away or decrease. Doing this provides the person using this technique the reinforcement that they will get what they want and cause them to use it more often in future circumstances.

This behaviour makes the person on the other end change how they respond to the situation to make the guilty feeling disappear or decrease. If this is a recurring situation, it can affect your mental health by increasing your levels of guilt and stress, which you may carry on for longer than needed or expected.

Some signs that you are the target of someone's guilt trip can be if you frequently feel guilty for things or find yourself regularly looking to avoid them when talking to that person. Also, the person gives you the silent treatment for something you did or didn't do, emphasizes how they are the victims of your actions and decisions, makes sarcastic comments, sighs, crosses their arms, makes passive-aggressive remarks, and changes their facial expressions to show sadness or disappointment. This can happen with friends, partners, family, coworkers, etc.

Here are a couple of important tips you can follow to respond to a guilt trip:

  • Be aware of how your mind and body change when conversing with someone you believe uses this tactic. If you change from feeling calm and happy to feeling uncomfortable, angry, or guilty, notice these auto-responses and bring them to the other person's attention to make them aware of what is happening. You can also calmly and assertively repeat their comment back to them and highlight your petition to it. Ensure to reiterate your boundaries, all while remaining empathetic and understanding. If someone is doing this unintentionally, they should be receptive to your appeals.

  • Acknowledge the situation and invite the other person to express their need clearly and then see if you can find a better solution, a practical one not driven by emotion.

If guilt trip behaviour is a constant thing in your life and affects your daily life and well-being, you can work with a therapist on improving your assertiveness and emotional intelligence. Here at Mind By Design®, we have therapists that can help you learn how to be more in touch with your feelings, set boundaries, and work towards better relationships.

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