Guilt-tripping is a favorite practice of narcissists, abusers, and emotional manipulators the world over. Guilt-tripping involves using a person’s guilt against them to manipulate actions, feelings, or thoughts. Often, the victim isn’t aware of a guilt trip before it’s in full swing, but you can identify a guilt trip and shut it down before it goes too far. Guilt-tripping is nothing less than manipulation, and although at first, you may want to excuse such behavior, it’s important to understand its impact.
1. Identify a Guilt Trip ASAP
Identifying a guilt trip as soon as possible is the best means of prevention. There are some classic behaviors and comments that are associated with a guilt trip, including the following:
- Everything you do is up for scrutiny
- Everything is your fault and is never good enough
- You can’t go anywhere or do anything without a fight
- “I guess you don’t care about my feelings”
- “I guess you don’t want me to come with you”
- Extreme jealousy
- Constant comparisons
- Conditions for everything you do or want to do
These are only a few of the most common symptoms of guilt trips, and there are many more to consider. Identifying what the manipulator is up to before they can use it as a weapon against you will render their efforts fruitless and save you much pain and agony later on. When someone starts guilt-tripping, the best thing to do is either walk away from the situation (and possibly even the person) altogether or try to tell the person what they’re doing and how it’s affecting you.
2. Learn to Say No
Guilt-tripping is all about power. The power of the guilt trip lies in the victim’s inability to fight back or say no to the abuser. A guilt trip is specifically designed to break down your walls and destroy your sense of belonging and purpose. Guilt-tripping is only successful when you agree to the terms set forth by your abuser. Learning to say no, to draw the line in the sand where you won’t be moved, is not only essential to remove yourself as a victim, but also to show the abuser that what they’re doing is wrong.
Make no mistake; you will most likely receive backlash from your abuser if they’re used to successfully guilt-tripping you. If you notice the behavior coming on, simply say no. Stand up for yourself and let the abuser know that you will not be guilt-tripped any longer.
3. Develop Confidence
If you’ve been guilt-tripped for any amount of time, you’ve probably learned to be self-critical in a bad way. Constant guilt-tripping can make you doubt yourself and every decision you make, especially when your abuser is right there as soon as you make a decision to ensure you’re feeling guilty about it. Luckily, you can undo this programming by learning to build confidence in your decision-making.
Let’s take jealousy, for example. Jealousy isn’t a healthy emotion in a stable relationship of any kind, because if two people trust each other, jealousy simply cannot take root. Mistrust from guilt-trippers usually stems from their own insecurities, which they take out on you in the form of guilt-tripping.
When the guilt-tripping begins, stop and ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing truly a good reason for so much jealousy?” While opinions will certainly differ, once you analyze your decisions and begin to build confidence in yourself, the veil that’s been placed over your eyes will begin to lift; and you’ll see the abuser standing there before you as the cause of your poor self-esteem.
4. Ignore the Behavior
Sometimes, you simply can’t get through to a person; especially someone who’s rooted in their manipulative ways and used to getting what they want. If you’ve tried and tried to get through to the manipulator and nothing has worked, remember that you can always ignore the guilt-trip altogether. Walk away, ignore text messages and phone calls, and prove to them once and for all that their manipulative behavior will not be tolerated.
5. Own Your Own Mistakes, Not Theirs
A favorite tactic of guilt-trippers is to label their own mistakes as somehow linked to your own. This is what gets in your head and makes you second-guess everything you do. If every decision you make is somehow linked to both your mistakes and theirs, how can you possibly do anything with confidence?
It’s crucial to identify where you messed up; this is important for personal growth! But once you’ve done that, you don’t need to go any further. You’re not responsible for your abuser’s decision-making and certainly aren’t responsible for their mistakes. Own your mistakes, fix them, but don’t fall into the trap of owning someone else’s.