Here are 13 points to consider in preventing you from getting pushed around and becoming someone’s doormat:
1) Beware The Guilt Trippers. Guilt trippers may not even realize what they are doing or how wrong it is to manipulate others with their guilt tactics. They often are too focused on getting the outcome they desire. If someone tries to make you feel guilty about your decision, then you need to be alerted. This is also true if someone tries to get you to do something that works for them but not for you.
2) Learn To Press Pause. If you find yourself in a situation in which you are being pressured to make a decision you’re unsure of; press pause. Excuse yourself or take time to consider what’s being asked of you. Don’t let the guilt tripper suck you into their plans. Be clear with what you want. You can negotiate an alternative plan that could work for both of you but don’t let yourself get pushed around.
3) It’s Usually The Same People. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you who the manipulators are. Pay attention to your instincts. Notice the people in your life who use guilt trips to get their way. Once you identify them, keep one eye on them. Prepare yourself mentally and keep your guard up when they are around.
4) Do Your Guilty Thoughts Actually Belong To Someone Else? If you were raised by parents or authority figures that were extra strict with very high demands and expectations; you could be a sucker for guilt. Rigid beliefs about what’s right and wrong can be a breeding ground for guilt. If you regularly feel guilty, you should re-evaluate your beliefs and determine if you still believe these thoughts or are they simply carried over from your childhood. You may find they no longer fit your life.
5) Speak The Hardest Word. Say no. This little word can be hard to say because you’re afraid it will produce conflict or rejection. It may, but it may also create a sense of respect for you. In their eyes and in your own. Guilt trippers won’t stop unless you stop them and NO is a big part of the solution.
6) Givers and Takers; Not Just Takers. Your interactions with others should involve a general balance between giving and receiving. Keep an eye on your relationships that seem to involve you doing most of the giving. Some people will bleed you dry with their willingness to take and take and take.
7) Be Resilient. Guilt trippers will try to wear you down. Their strategy is to inflict a lot of guilt in order to get their way. You must have a thick skin. You can be polite but be firm. You can say “I’m sorry you’re upset. I hope this doesn’t create a problem between us.” If they do get upset or angry, let it be their problem.
8) If You Have Done Something Wrong; Make It Right. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. Guilt trippers have a knack at using their words, tone of voice and body language to infer you have done something wrong. Most of us don’t want to be guilty of doing something wrong so it’s an easy trap to fall into.
9) Use The Broken Record Technique. If the guilt tripper keeps pressing you; repeat one clear statement over and over again. “I hear what you’re saying but I’m not going to change my mind.” You keep repeating your statement over and over until they get the point that you’re not budging. They’ll get aggravated and move on. I wouldn’t stop to explain because it will only give them ammunition to further manipulate you by making points you hadn’t thought of in order to confuse you.
10) Clarify Their Intent. Directly ask them for clarification. “What did you mean by that?” “Are you saying you’ll ______ if I don’t ________?” “It sounds like you’re upset because ________? Is that right?”
11) Maybe I Will; Maybe I Won’t. If the guilt tripper has a valid point you hadn’t thought of; you can acknowledge it and even consider changing your mind. Just because they have a valid point doesn’t mean you have to change your position. Remember that good relations require aspects of give and take.
12) Stand Your Ground. A guilt tripper can make you change your mind. You must have a strong resolve of what you want. It is at these moments that positive changes will occur. You will grow in confidence and the guilt tripper will develop awareness that you are no longer an easy target.
13) Do You Need To Make An Apology? Not all guilt is manipulative. If you have made a mistake; take responsibility and apologize.
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. Mark Webb is also the author of How To Be a Great Partner and founder of Partner Focused Relationships™. Sign up for Mark Webb’s “Relationship Strategies” Ezine ($100 Value). Mark Webb is the Relationship Specialist, his relationship advice and marital advice has helped many thru the years, let him guide you to a stronger healthier relationship.