Do guilt trips lock you up in an emotional prison? What do you need to know to deflect or neutralize guilt trips?
Let’s look at Tom’s encounter with guilt. He was concerned this past Christmas about picking out presents that his nieces and nephews would need or like. So he gave money to his sister to buy his presents for them. He did, however, wrap the presents, and he was present when they were opened Christmas morning.
The children liked the gifts and thanked Tom cheerfully. However, Alice, the eldest niece, told him with a hint of disapproval that she knew he hadn’t personally bought them. He hadn’t gone to the store, she reiterated, and picked them out himself. Taken aback, Tom mumbled an excuse about being too busy. Alice didn’t look impressed, though, by his explanation.
Afterwards, Tom was bothered all day by guilt. In his mind, he kept seeing Alice making her “accusation.” He began to feel upset at her. “How could she be so mean as to say that to me,” he thought, “after I got her such a nice present!” Soon he was speaking resentfully about Alice to a friend.
His friend told him, “Tom, it’s true she laid a guilt-trip on you. But you’re the one who got triggered. You have to ask yourself why you’re so upset by that young girl’s passing comment.”
This friend’s suggestion is a good one. Tom’s problem is not with his niece but with the ease by which he gets triggered by real or implied criticism. [Read more…]