The Downside Of Using Guilt Trips To Get What You Want

Relationships: The Downside Of Using Guilt Trips

What is the real intent of your guilt trips?

Sometimes people lay guilt trips to muzzle another person. A sensitive person who gets wounded easily may have learned to use a guilt trip to shut another person up.

How would that look? Let's say someone like your partner, friend, relative, child, or co-worker, tries to tell you about something you said or did that didn’t work for him or her. You could use a guilt trip to stifle your partner by carrying on, crying, getting insulted, not listening, or overreacting.

All of these behaviors are going to shut the other person down. So, in the short-run you protect yourself by not having to hear the feedback. But in the long run you're killing your relationship since the other person needs to be able to share how he/she is experiencing you. If that line of communication is broken, the relationship can't survive.

This is like a Ping-Pong game. The other person needs to speak in a way that you can hear, so you don't have to fall into games like guilt-trips to get him/her to stop talking. Here's the deal. Maybe the other partner isn't speaking in a way that you can hear!

Let me say that again. If we want to be heard, we need to communicate a message that's hearable! How often do people stop and think before speaking, especially when they're upset? More often than not, people make the mistake of dumping raw emotion on others under the guise of "getting it off one's chest." While it may feel good to get our rocks off on another person, on the rocks is where our relationships end up when we gratify ourselves in this way.

I use the word gratify intentionally. Because dumping anger on another person (otherwise known as giving feedback, being honest, getting it off one's chest) does provide a temporary satisfaction, not unlike the satisfaction we get when we take a literal dump! Whatever you say and do boomerangs back on you. And if you hurt the other person, you are ultimately hurting yourself. For this reason, we all need to emotionally toilet train ourselves and learn to control our verbal bowels, so to speak!

Let's use the image of an imaginary sieve to explain what I mean. Our intellects are the imaginary sieve. Before we speak, we must filter any raw emotional guck through this sieve. What's left behind in the sieve is not fit for human consumption. As we pass the raw emotion through the sieve of our intellects we must convert our feelings into constructive communications that benefit not only ourselves, but also the other person and our relationship.

So to return to the point of this article, if you are laying a guilt trip in order to shut another person up, it may mean that your partner needs to learn how to speak in a more constructive way, so that you can hear what he/she is saying and don't have to fall into games like guilt-trips to get him/her to stop talking.

In Kiss Your Fights Good-bye: Dr. Love's 10 Simple Steps to Cooling Conflict and Rekindling Your Relationship — I explain how to use my X,Y Formula to calmly and constructively present any topic so the confrontee doesn't feel wounded and doesn't need to resort to guilt tripping to get the confronter to shut up.

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