Guilt is an effective manipulation tool, and that’s why many people choose to guilt trip to get what they want. Here’s how you can handle it.
Getting guilt tripped isn’t easy. No matter what you do to make things better or to redeem yourself, it’s like you can’t get the stain off from the last time you made a mistake. A lot of the time, we’re our own worst critic, and we tend to do the guilt tripping for ourselves. But what if someone else is rubbing the guilt in your face all the time?
What is guilt tripping?
To put it simply, guilt tripping is when someone brings up your past mistake, and they coerce you to do something as a form of making up for said mistake. For instance, you may have unknowingly hurt a friend with a careless comment. Your friend may guilt trip you by mentioning it when they ask you for a favor. In your guilt over your supposed transgression, you feel like you have no choice but to do what your friend wants you to do.
As you can imagine, being guilt tripped by someone is almost as good as being trapped into doing something you don’t want to do. There are cases where you already feel like you have absolved yourself from your mistake, and this is when guilt tripping won’t work on you. However, in some cases where the guilt is still fresh or recent, others may use this to take advantage of you to the point of abuse. [Read: 15 effective ways to stop getting manipulated by others]
How to handle guilt trippers
Guilt trippers love it when they have some dirt that they can use against you. It’s like a form of subtle blackmailing, but they’re acting like victims to make you think that you owe them a favor. It’s definitely not a good feeling, that’s why you need to learn some methods to handle them.
#1 Stand up for yourself like an adult. This means not losing your temper, not being hurtful or disrespectful, and not taking it out on others who haven’t done anything wrong. If you’re being guilt tripped about an issue that you’re working on, express to the guilt tripper how you’re working on it. But if they’re guilt tripping you over something that’s already in the past, keep those people where the event of their guilt trip is – in the past.
#2 Admit when you’re wrong. This is crucial. If you’ve done something awful recently, and someone close to you found out, they have every reason to guilt trip you initially. Everything they say, regardless of their intentions, will seem like they’re guilt tripping you. But after a while, it shouldn’t happen anymore. It should be about solutions. This being said, admit you’re wrong when you’re wrong, and get ready to face the music. If you have the nerve to commit the act, you should have the nerve to hear what others have to say about it.
#3 Handle your own issues. There are some guilt trippers who, at the start, may seem like helpful people who are always willing to do things for you. But after they have done you a favor, they’ll keep bringing up that favor, so that they can get something from you. The lesson here is this: don’t let others do things you can handle yourself. No matter how convenient it is to have other people do things for you, you never know when those favors might come back in the form of guilt tripping. [Read: 9 habits you need to be more independent]
#4 Remain calm. When you’re being guilt tripped for something you didn’t do, or something you did a long time ago, it’s easy to get frustrated. However, calmness may be your greatest ally. By keeping your anger at bay, you’ll remain level-headed, say the right things, and not say things you’ll regret later. It might also make your guilt tripper think that their ploy isn’t working, so they might just leave you alone.
#5 If you owe them anything, give it to them. If you don’t owe them anything, say it. Seriously, if you owe them money, a car ride, anything, just give it to them. It’s not good to owe anyone favors, especially those who demand more than what they gave. If you don’t owe them anything, speak up about it. Tell them that you’ve already paid what you owed, and there’s nothing more they can get from you.
#6 Decide if you want this person in your life. If someone is guilt tripping you over irrelevant things and is always more than happy to do it, do you really want them in your life? Whatever relationship you may have had and whatever bond you had forged can be ruined when they decide to guilt trip you over the littlest things. In cases like this, you may come to realize that severing ties is preferable to putting up with their incessant guilt tripping. [Read: 11 types of toxic friends you don’t need in your life]
#7 Explain why you can’t give them what you want. A guilt tripper always wants something from you, whether it’s a favor, a material object, or just a look of remorse that they can lord over you. But if you can’t give them what they want, tell them your reasons. It can be because you’ve already atoned for your sins, or you’ve already said your apologies *and were forgiven*. Clearly tell your guilt tripper that you can’t give them anything because you’ve already made up for what you’ve done.
#8 Learn when to be firm. Being stern isn’t a bad thing. Being stern means knowing when to put your foot down, but not in a mean, disrespectful way. As with the previous point, you have to clearly state why you refuse to give in to the guilt tripping, and along with that, you must also use language that is direct and definitive. Don’t use words like “I might” or “I don’t think I can.” Instead, say words like, “I refuse,” “I can’t let you do that,” or the good old, “NO.” [Read: 11 signs to know if you’re being used for sex or money]
#9 Never expect an apology. Your guilt tripper feeds on the guilt of others, but they hardly ever feel any guilt of their own. They always play the victim, making you think that what you did to them is worse than it actually is. Because of that, they’re always expecting others to apologize to them, but they’ll never be the ones to do the apologizing. And despite the fact that their apology might give you closure, don’t count on it.
#10 Agree on a compromise. There may be cases where the guilt tripper in your life is actually open to meeting in the middle to agree on a compromise. If this is the case with you, then you’re in luck. You can suggest reasonable ways to make up for what you’ve done, so that the guilt tripper will just shut up about the whole issue.
However, always make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of here. Ensure the punishment fits the crime. So no matter how much your guilt tripper loved that dollar store vase you broke, keep in mind that it’s only a vase, and it’s not worth a week’s worth of gourmet meals delivered to their doorstep.
Whether you choose to compromise or cut ties completely, you must never just give in to the wiles of a guilt tripper. They will only manipulate you into doing what’s best for them, but not necessarily what’s best for your relationship. Keep these 10 tips in mind, and you can be sure that the guilt tripper in your life will take a hint and let you off the hook.
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Jennifer is a writer, director, consultant and author, with a passion for all things literary. While she works on a variety of projects at a time, her one true ...