We’ve all experienced guilt trips.
You know, those episodes where people try to make you feel bad for doing or not doing something.
A guilt trip can technically be defined as an attempt to make someone feel guilty about doing or not doing something.
Guilt is an effective emotional tool when weaponized and used against people.
In fact, making people feel guilty can be a common tactic that some people use to get others to do what they want them to do.
The big downside to this, of course, is that guilt-tripping is a very negative thing to do to someone.
Guilt is a negative emotion.
So using guilt as a weapon is like trying to make someone feel negative because you didn’t get the thing you wanted.
But here’s the problem:
What happens when people try to guilt-trip you?
How should you handle it?
How can you keep this unhealthy negative behavior from affecting you?
The thing about guilt trips that’s important to keep in mind is that sometimes they’re intentional, and sometimes they’re unintentional.
Sometimes, people use guilt very deliberately to try to get what they want.
But sometimes, their intent isn’t necessarily to make you feel guilty… but to just complain or vent about how they feel.
Of course, at the end of the day, both of these examples will make you feel negative and bad.
And the best way to deal with them is to treat them both as exactly what they are:
Here are 3 tips for how to overcome them.
1. Understand That People Are Going To Do It
People guilt trip.
It’s a very common thing, and it happens every day.
But that also doesn’t mean that you need to allow it to happen to you.
2. Draw Boundaries
When people try to guilt-trip you, one of the best things that you can do is to identify the problem and draw a boundary.
For example, if your friend asks you to loan them some money, but you don’t want to loan them money because you have a feeling that they won’t pay you back, they might try to make you feel guilty by saying something like:
“Wow, I just thought I could rely on my friends to help me during a hard time. But I guess not. Nevermind. I guess I’m just screwed.”
But see, it’s really important that you keep in mind that you’re not responsible for their bad feelings or circumstances.
Even if you are their friend and care about them, it’s still important for you to understand that you’re not responsible for someone’s inherent feelings of sadness, or for their lack of money.
You’re only responsible for what you do.
Now, if you legitimately treated your friend badly—then your feelings of guilt may be helpful; because they can let you know that you should probably apologize or make things right.
This is the useful thing about guilt. It can motivate us to try to be better in our relationships.
But if you haven’t treated someone badly, you have nothing to feel guilty about.
Draw a boundary by reminding yourself that you’re not responsible for this negative feeling that your friend has, and try to absolve yourself of feeling guilty.
3. Cut Negative People Out Of Your Life
This can be a very difficult step.
But sometimes, the best way to deal with negative people is to stop spending so much time around them.
As a general rule, a person is considered a positive influence if four out of five interactions with them are good, while one out of five interactions with them classify as negative (after all, nobody is perfect).
So for example, if a friend is mostly positive and fun to hang out with four out of five times, but very grumpy and difficult to hang out with one out of five times, you could technically classify them as a ‘positive’ friend.
But if they tip the scales any further to the negative than that, there’s a good chance that your investment is actually working against you instead of for you in this friendship or relationship.
As such, it might be useful to pull back your investment into that person—and to spend your time and energy with other people who are having a more positive influence on your life.