You’ve likely heard the term “guilt trip” at some point, but what does it actually mean? A guilt trip is when someone uses your own guilt to fulfill an agenda or force you into a decision you’re against.
For example, if your girlfriend didn’t want you to go out with your friends, she might say something like “I guess you don’t want to spend time with me.” The idea behind the statement is that you’ll feel guilty enough to stay home with her and forsake your plans.
Resisting a guilt trip is important so that you don’t fall into the guilt trap or become a victim of emotional manipulation. Here are five tips for resisting guilt trips.
Here, we’ll discuss how to identify, resist, and even stop a guilt trip before it takes control of your mind.
1. Recognize the Severity
Guilt-tripping is something many people simply overlook, but the fact is, no matter how subtle it may seem, guilt trips are nothing less than a form of emotional manipulation.
That’s right, those guilt-inducing comments your boyfriend or girlfriend make all too often are manipulative. Let’s analyze that for a second because you’re likely thinking to yourself “Manipulation? Really? Is it that serious?” Yes, it is that serious.
If you’re making a decision, going out with friends, or anything else, and someone uses your own guilt against you to make you reconsider your decision, that’s absolutely manipulation!
Rather than discussing how your decision makes them feel or impacts them directly, they’re instead inducing a negative emotion within you to make you change your mind, and that’s not OK. The first step to resisting a guilt trip is realizing that it’s a serious thing.
2. Recognize the Behavior
There’s a good chance someone in your life guilt trips you so often that you don’t even recognize it as such. You probably just brush it off, as most people do when they’re in intimate relationships.
When we’re romantically involved with someone, we make all kinds of excuses for the way they treat us, and we brush off some major red flags.
This can be quite dangerous, as letting a guilt trip go for months or years on end can help it grow into much more toxic behavior.
Recognize when you’re being guilt-tripped. If your partner, friend, or family member says things to make you feel guilty and reconsider decisions you’re making, you’re being guilt-tripped.
It’s one thing to give advice or point out possible outcomes, but another thing entirely to use your guilt to sway your decision-making process.
3. Take a Stand
This is the most difficult part of resisting a guilt trip because guilt is such a powerful emotion. Guilt can motivate or inhibit, depending on the situation, but it’s certainly not something that should ever be used as a weapon against someone you love.
When you recognize that someone is guilt-tripping you, you must take a stand and let them know that behavior is not OK any longer.
Stand up for yourself and let the manipulator know how guilt-tripping makes you feel. You’ll probably run into denial, and that’s pretty common, but the important thing is that you’ve recognized the behavior and taken a stand against it.
4. Set Healthy Boundaries and Expect Respect for Them
When you set boundaries with the people you love, you should absolutely expect those people to respect your boundaries.
Boundaries are some of the most important measures of trust in a relationship. They set the standard for how you will and will not be treated, and people who continually violate your boundaries don’t have your best interests in mind.
A person who truly loves and cares for you will have no problem respecting boundaries and not engaging in behavior that makes you feel a certain way.
Set boundaries with people who guilt-trip. Let them know you’re no longer accepting certain behaviors, and that guilt-tripping in particular makes you feel horrible and you don’t appreciate it.
If they continue to do it anyway, it might be time to take a closer look at your relationship with that person.
5. Cut Out the Manipulators
You might be thinking, “whoa, hit the brakes! We’re cutting people out now? For guilt-tripping?”
It’s perfectly understandable to be resistant to the idea of cutting people out of your life, and I’m not saying you should jump to that conclusion.
However, if you’re constantly at war with someone in your life who is toxic and manipulative, you’re likely going to be better off without their negative influence.
We’ve already discussed how guilt-tripping is nothing less than manipulation. If manipulation is the pattern of behavior within your relationship with this person, is that really what you want from your relationships?
Do you think someone that constantly manipulates you has good intentions in mind or cares how it makes you feel?
Manipulative behavior should be identified, addressed, and have clear boundaries set around it. Setting those boundaries is the final step before resorting to cutting someone out of your life. Set a standard for yourself and the people you hold close.
Don’t let them make you feel guilty about your own decisions. Encourage them to talk to you instead of resorting to manipulative behavior. Don’t accept less for yourself.