To Overcome Guilt And Emotions Used Against You By Your Friends
Isn't amazing how one visit or call from your friends,
parents or in-laws can ruin the holiday season? Guilt
is a very natural human emotion, but knowing how to overcome
guilt trips will provide you with powerful tools for personal
What is Guilt?
Feeling of responsibility for negative
circumstances that have befallen yourself or others.
Feeling of regret for your real
or imagined misdeeds, both past and present.
Sense of remorse for thoughts, feelings,
or attitudes that were or are negative, uncomplimentary,
or non-accepting concerning yourself or others.
Feeling of obligation for not pleasing,
not helping, or not placating another.
Feeling of bewilderment and lack
of balance for not responding to a situation in your
typical, stereotype manner.
Feeling of loss and shame for not
having done or said something to someone who is no longer
available to you.
Accepting of responsibility for
someone else's misfortune or problem because it bothers
you to see that person suffer.
Motivator to amend all real or perceived
Strong moral sense of right and
wrong that inhibits you from choosing a ``wrong'' course
of action; however, you assign your own definitions
to the words.
Driving force or mask behind which
irrational beliefs hide.
How Do Your Friends and Relatives Play
on Your Feelings of Guilt?
What Can Guilt Do To You?
- Make you believe they will suffer greatly if you do not respond
positively to their request(s).
- Call on your guilt to respond to their requests, even when
it means violating your rights.
- Respond to your irrational self by reinforcing your irrational
thinking, giving you a sense of blame, for past, present, or
- Build up a verbal or imagined scenario that portrays you at
fault for inaction, thus guaranteeing your sense of guilt and
your willingness to do anything to alleviate it.
- Accuse you of misdeeds, words, or actions to arouse your sense
of guilt and make you believe you are the one with a problem
in an interpersonal relationship difficulty. (This effectively
takes the pressure off of them.)
- Reinforce your negative self-perceptions, encouraging you
to be guilt ridden and self-judgmental for their benefit.
- Build a case with moral absolutes to convince you of the ``right
way'' to do things, avoiding that negative feeling of guilt
- Set up situations for you in which you will believe your alternatives
are limited to that which results in the least sense of guilt.
- Feign or fake hardship, illness, discomfort, unhappiness,
incompetence, or other negative behavior to arouse your sense
of guilt and have you take over those tasks, or duties bringing
imagined negative consequences for them
- Threaten negative consequences, like going to jail, to the
hospital, to the juvenile detention center, failing school,
dying, or divorcing you. This manipulation uses your guilt to
- Make you become over responsible, striving to make life ``right.''
You overwork. You over give of yourself. You are willing to
do anything in your attempt to make everyone happy.
- Make you over conscientious. You fret over every action you
take as to its possible negative consequence to others, even
if this means that you must ignore your needs and wants.
- Make you over sensitive. You see decisions about right and
wrong in every aspect of your life and become obsessed with
the tenuous nature of all of your personal actions, words, and
decisions. You are sensitive to the cues of others where any
implication of your wrong doing is intimated.
- Immobilize you. You can become so overcome by the fear of
doing, acting, saying, or being ``wrong'' that you eventually
collapse, give in, and choose inactivity, silence, and the status
- Interfere in your decision making. It is so important to always
be "right'' in your decisions that you become unable to
make a decision lest it be a wrong one.
- Be hidden by the mask of self denial. Because it is less guilt
inducing to take care of others first, instead of yourself,
you hide behind the mask of self denial. You honestly believe
it is better to serve others first, unaware that "guilt''
is the motivator for such "generous'' behavior.
- Make you ignore the full array of emotions and feelings available
to you. Overcome by guilt or the fear of it, you can become
emotionally blocked or closed off. You are able neither to enjoy
the positive fruits of life nor experience the negative aspects.
- Be a motivator to change. Because you feel guilt and the discomfort
it brings, you can use it as a barometer of the need to change
things in your life and rid yourself of the guilt.
- Be a mask for negative self belief. You may actually have
low self-esteem, but claim the reason for your negativity is
the overwhelming sense of guilt you experience.
- Mislead or misdirect you. Because many irrational beliefs
lie behind guilt, you may be unable to sort out your feelings.
It is important to be objective with yourself when you are experiencing
guilt; be sure that your decisions are based on sound, rational
What Irrational Beliefs or Negative
Self-Scripts Are Involved In Guilt?
How To Overcome Guilt?
Step 1: You can recognize the role guilt is playing in
your life by choosing a current problem and answering the following
questions in your journal:
a . What problem is currently troubling me?
b . Who is responsible for the problem?
c . Whose problem is it, really?
d . What did I do to make this problem worse for myself?
e . How much guilt do I feel about this problem?
f . How much does the guilt I experience exaggerate or exacerbate
g . If I felt no more guilt what would my problem look like then?
If the answer to question ``g'' is that your problem can be solved
by reducing guilt, go to Step 2.
Step 2: Redefine your problem with the absence of guilt
as an issue.
In answering the questions in Step 1 you recognized that guilt
was preventing resolution of the problem. To redefining your problem,
answer the following questions in your journal:
- How insurmountable is the problem?
- Is this problem an interpersonal or intrapersonal problem?
- If it is interpersonal: Can I help the other person and myself
to set aside guilt and resolve this problem?
- If it is intrapersonal: Can I set aside guilt or the fear of
it and resolve this problem?
- Does this problem have more than one solution? Can others and
myself experience satisfaction, comfort, and resolution with a
minimum of debilitating guilt?
- Whose problem is it, really?
- Is it my problem or another(s)?
- Am I taking on another's responsibility?
- Am I trying to keep another from experiencing pain, hardship,
Step 3: If the problem is really someone else's, give
the problem back to the person(s) to solve and to deal with.
If the problem is yours, go to Step 4.
Step 4: You must confront the real or imagined guilt or
fear of guilt preventing you from either handing the problem back
to the person(s) whose problem it really is (Step 3) or from handling
the problem on your own. Consider the following:
a . What fears are blocking me at this moment from taking the
steps I need to resolve this problem?
b . What are the irrational beliefs behind these fears?
c . Refute the irrational beliefs using the steps given in the
``Handling Irrational Beliefs'' section two in Tools for Personal
d . Initiate a program of self-affirmation.
e . Use an imagery scenario with ``guilt'' as an object you packaged
in a nice box. It is brought to a mountain top and thrown off
a cliff for good.
f . Affirm for yourself that:
- You deserve to solve this problem.
- You deserve to be good to yourself
- You deserve to have others be good to you, too!
Step 5: If your guilt is not resolved after completing
Steps 3 and/or 4, return to Step 1 and begin again.
Reference Source: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &
Constance M. Messina, Ph.D.,