How to Spot and Respond to a Guilt Trip
Guilt-tripping is an indirect approach to communication. Even when you’ve done nothing wrong, the other person might imply the situation is somehow your fault. They make their unhappiness clear and leave it to you to find a way of fixing the problem.
If you feel guilty about their suffering, you’re more likely to do what you can to help. Intentional or not, guilt-tripping prevents healthy communication and conflict resolution, and often provokes feelings of resentment and frustration.
Someone trying to guilt-trip you may:
Someone feeling hurt might use guilt trips when they don’t know any other way to deal with their emotional turmoil. It’s tough to listen if someone won’t admit there’s a problem, but get the discussion started by pointing out their behavior. Then give them space to express their feelings.
“I’m sorry I can’t make it tonight. Trying to make me feel guilty won’t change my decision. I understand it’s upsetting. Do you feel like talking about that some more?”
Someone might resort to guilt when they don’t know how to advocate for themselves in more direct ways.
If you notice signs suggestive of guilt-tripping, use open-ended questions to encourage them to express themselves directly:
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