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How to Survive a Guilt Trip

guilt trip
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

So you tell your boss, but there’s a little problem.  Rather than accept your decision, he responds with “Are you sure you want to do that?  The economy is pretty bad and you’ll probably be let go.”

You’re bothered, annoyed, second guessing yourself and feeling a bit guilty, but your still pretty set on your decision.  You decide to go tell more people because you figure “maybe if I just tell more people then it’ll make the decision more real and I can feel more confident in it.”  So you go home and call you mom, but her response isn’t at all what you hoped for.  “What?!  You’re really going to leave me all alone aren’t you?” she says, “It’s hard enough for me living by myself.  If you really loved me then you wouldn’t take a job so far away from me.”

Congratulations.  You have just reached the territory of guilt trip mania.  At this point, you’re probably stressed, second guessing yourself, wanting to scream, rip your hair out or have one too many drinks.

Well, before you do that stop and hear me out. I’m here to tell you there is a way to survive a guilt trip.  It may not be easy at first, but with some hard work and awareness of what’s going on, you can get through this just fine.  Here are some things to keep in mind to overcome a guilt trip.

Know why this person is doing this.

Why would someone guilt trip you?  Why would your boss have a problem with you taking another job?  Though if you asked your boss why, he may give you several reasons.  However, ultimately there is only one reason and one reason only why someone would guilt trip you: They are insecure.  For your boss, it may be that he is worried about finding someone to replace you.  For your mom, it may be that she simply fears being apart from you.  She may be depending on you for her own happiness rather than taking responsibility in her life.

Realize that nothing they said is actually true.

 Is it true that you don’t love your mom because you are taking a job farther away?  No, because your decisions don’t determine whether you love her or not.  Only you can really know if you love her or not.  Is it true that you’ll be laid-off from your new job?  Nobody can know what will happen, especially your current boss… unless he’s psychic and even if he was psychic I’d say go look for another opinion.  Life is full of risks — it’s unavoidable.  Better to jump by following your heart than to never know what could’ve been.

Take care of yourself.

Breathe.  Do yoga.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Get a massage.  Talk to a supportive friend.  Set up an appointment with a therapist, coach, or mentor.  Do whatever you need to do in order to give yourself the care you need and deserve so your not overwhelmed from the guilt trip.  Maybe it involves doing a little getaway hike or camping in nature.  The goal is to really focus on YOU and nobody else.  People who guilt trip want you to shift your energy completely over to them and for you stop taking care of you. They’re hungry for someone else to give them the satisfaction they haven’t been giving themselves, so don’t give them what they want because it will only teach them to keep acting that way.  Break away and focus on you.

Focus on what YOU want.

What is it that you want to do for yourself?  What is the decision that excites you the most when you think about doing it?  What inspires you and makes you feel most free?  Put your focus completely on that dream.  Know that you deserve to have it become a reality.  And know that to do things to make that dream come true is everything BUT selfish — it’s genuine, it’s true, it’s love.


Overcome a Guilt Trip!

Ask yourself:

Why did this person guilt trip me?

How are their statements not true?

How can I best take care of myself during this time?

Why am I doing this?  What is my goal or dream in this decision?

3 thoughts on “How to Survive a Guilt Trip

  1. Great post Jennifer – Have you ever read How to Win Friends and Influence People? This is a lot of what is covered in that book as well :). Looking into the perspective of others is always a good way to either not get guilty, or totally defuse the situation!

    1. I believe I read that one quite few years ago (probably over 5), so some of my ideas were probably inspired by some the concepts from that book still left in my consciousness. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post!

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