Let’s talk about guilt.

On a scale of 1 to 1,000, with 1,000 being the highest and best, guilt resonates at around 30. Yes, 30. Yet, how many of us let this emotion run amok in our heart and mind?

From as young as I can remember, I have lived with some form of guilt or another.

But why?

For a number of reasons…mostly though, because I had a difficult time doing what I was told to do by my parents. So, as you can imagine, I’m not a big fan of guilt.

There are many forms of guilt. Some may never experience any guilt at all throughout life. Some let guilt dictate their entire life. The levels vary greatly.

Guilt is an emotion that people experience because they are convinced that they have somehow caused harm. The emotion of guilt follows directly from the thought that you are responsible for someone else’s misfortune, sadness, anger, etc.

But – can guilt be helpful in some way? Depending on the situation, guilt can provide a strong motivation to apologize, correct or make up for a wrong. In this way, guilt just may be distantly related to empathy or trustworthiness.

So, what happens when you disappoint people that want something from you, but you say no? This may produce a mild form of guilt in you. Saying no is difficult when the person asking has certain expectations of you, especially if you care deeply for this someone.

Knowing that other people may see and judge your actions can affect a person’s choices. But should we live our life in a state of worry about what someone else thinks of us?

When a person has a strong inner moral code by which they live, you care less about what people think of you. You are guided by something higher, and that is the Voice you listen to.

If you live in a chronic state of guilt, this eventually will cause physical symptoms.

Here’s an example, albeit very small…

When I was about four years old, I wanted to help my mother clean the house. I offered to vacuum. She warned me about not sucking things up off the floor that might be too large for the hose to handle. She instructed me to pick those items up, not suck them up.

Her “good church handkerchief” just happened to be on the floor of her bedroom. Curiosity got the best of me, and I wondered if that would clog the hose. I sucked it up. Gone. The guilt I felt for doing this, especially after being told not to, was so huge, that I developed a stomach ache. For days, I felt sick. She actually called the Dr., who at that time made house calls, and she came out to examine me. She could find no cause for my physical ailment.

Eventually the guilt subsided, but every time my mom would search for that handkerchief, asking if anyone had seen it, I’d just about throw up. Little did I know that all she had to do was get the bag out, open it up and retrieve the hanky – had I told her what I’d done.

People with unresolved guilt might feel irritable or always on edge. They may be overly clingy or apologetic.

Feelings of guilt also often manifest as physical symptoms. These might include:
Insomnia
An upset stomach, nausea, or other digestive issues
Stomach pain
Muscle tension
Head pain
Tearfulness

This is no way to live!

With emotional manipulators, nothing is ever their fault. It doesn’t matter what they do — or fail to do — it’s someone else’s fault. Usually, yours. Emotional manipulators don’t take accountability for anything.

Whatever emotional manipulators are feeling, they are good at sucking everyone around them into those emotions. If they’re in a bad mood, everyone around them knows it. But that’s not the worst part: They’re so good at this, that not only is everyone aware of their mood, they feel it too. This makes others feel responsible for the manipulator’s moods and obliged to fix them.

If someone is trying to guilt-trip you they may: point out their own efforts and hard work to make you feel as if you’ve fallen short. They may make sarcastic or passive-aggressive remarks about the situation. They may ignore your efforts to talk about the problem.

If you are in relationship with someone who tries to make you feel guilty for not doing things their way, there are some things you can do. The first step is to politely tell this person that you are aware of the importance of the task that they are trying to guilt you into doing. Be frank with them, and let them know there is no need to make you feel guilty, as this will lead to resentment in the relationship, even if you comply with their wishes.

Let them know if they value the relationship, then they cannot continue with this manipulative behavior. Stand behind your word and follow through. Once this person realizes the severity of the situation, explain that it does not require guilt to get you to do/change things to meet their needs. They can directly ask you, without laying on the guilt, then you decide to respond to their wishes, and you would do it wholeheartedly without the feeling of resentment. But remember to be kind, in doing so.

There are two sides of this coin, however. The other side is ME. Am I the one, knowingly or unknowingly manipulating others to meet my needs? We are quick sometimes to point out negative qualities in others. But am I doing the same thing? This takes self-awareness.

Just some things to think about.

By the way…years later, I did eventually “confess” sucking up the handkerchief. We both had a good laugh. I offered money to pay for the Dr. visit, but she declined. Confession is good for the soul.

Much Love,

Rebecca