It’s a powerful feeling and a powerful motivator.
At its best, it can push us to improve the lives of the people we care about.
But at its worst, it can lead to massive indecision, anxiety, stress, and misery.
And while many people think of relationships in terms of romantic ones, we have relationships with everybody in our life.
In fact, romantic relationships aside, the most important relationship many of us will ever have is with our parents.
But what happens when your parents guilt tripped you throughout your childhood?
What happens if they still do it now?
Keep reading, and let’s explore how to deal with a guilt tripping parent.
What Is Guilt?
Putting aside the legal definition for a moment, guilt is an emotion.
It’s also worth noting, that in terms of frequency and vibration, guilt is one of the lowest vibrational emotions.
When you do something wrong, or something you perceive to be wrong, you may feel guilt as a result.
It’s an emotion that others can trigger in you, but it will always come back to being focused on you.
And in some ways, it’s a good thing.
Guilt makes it uncomfortable to do things that would harm others, and if you do end up doing so accidentally, guilt will motivate you to make amends.
An article in Scientific Reports suggests that diminished aversion to things that make the rest of us feel guilt is actually a common trait of psychopathy.
However, too much guilt can be emotionally crippling.
What Is Guilt Tripping?
Guilt tripping, on the other hand, is the practice of evoking guilt to achieve a desired outcome.
Let’s say, for example, a parent is visibly angry at you.
You can tell by their tone, their body language, and their facial expression.
But when you ask them what’s wrong, they swiftly spit out “nothing”.
That’s obviously not true.
Their words and their actions are incongruent – you know there must be something wrong.
And their ire is directed toward you – it must be your fault.
It makes you feel guilty about their negative emotions, and it makes you want to do something to make amends for it, to make your parent feel better.
In this way, your parent used guilt tripping very effectively for getting what they want.
The problem is that it also creates emotional distance, making it difficult for clear and honest communication to take place.
In addition to that, in this instance the parent is taking zero responsibility for their own feelings and putting all of the responsibility on you, their child.
This is hardly a conducive way to resolve conflict.
What Are The Signs Of Guilt Tripping Parents?
Guilt tripping can show up in any relationship, but today we’re talking about your relationship with your parents.
And in that case, it can come up in many different ways.
- These include: Minimizing your accomplishments
- Maximizing your failures
- Keeping a mental tally of previous favours
- Denying when they’re upset despite being clearly so
- Passive aggression
- Criticism masked as sarcasm
- “The silent treatment”
It’s worth noting that everything you see above is based on indirect communication.
But in some cases, the guilt tripping parent may not even realize they’re guilt tripping you.
If their parents in turn guilt tripped them, they may see this simply as how one communicates with their children.
The presence of this indirect communication, however, makes it very difficult for direct communication to take place.
If you have guilt tripping parents, have they been able to directly communicate their emotions to you?
Can you think of any times where they used a simple statement like “I feel _____”?
4 Tips To Deal With Guilt Tripping Parents
Guilt tripping is especially effective on children, because their ideas of the world aren’t well formed yet.
It can lead to them becoming guilt tripping adults, but it can also make them feel like nothing they ever do will be good enough to please their parents.
If your parents guilt tripped you, you may struggle with these feelings as an adult.
But living your life according to others’ expectations isn’t a helpful part of a practice of manifesting your dream life.
So what can you do?
1. Above All Else, Hold Onto Empathy
In some cases, people use guilt tripping to indirectly communicate what they don’t feel like they can communicate directly.
It’s important to keep that in mind when you approach the topic with them.
What past experiences have they gone through that caused them to struggle to communicate?
What sorts of complex emotions are they trying to process that may lead them to guilt trip?
They may see your relationship with them as unequal, and use guilt as a way to maintain their sense of power.
They may feel taken advantage of, and use guilt tripping as a way to dismiss that feeling.
But regardless, in the vast majority of cases, your parents aren’t guilt tripping you to be malicious.
It’s important to remember that.
2. Share Your Feelings
If your guilt tripping parent doesn’t realize what they’re doing, sometimes explaining it to them can help.
This has the added benefit of modeling to them how you can express your own emotions in a way that’s healthy, honest, and productive.
Openly acknowledge the guilt tripping, honestly communicate how it makes you feel, and suggest some other options.
This may be the opportunity for you to start with “I feel___”.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Set Boundaries
Empathy and understanding for your parents is important, but it should never come second to your own needs.
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how to set healthy boundaries with your parents, and that’s important with how to deal with guilt tripping parents as well.
When your parent uses guilt, it may help to openly acknowledge it, and to let them know that you won’t tolerate it.
You may end up doing what they want you to do anyway, but this can remove the sting of guilt from it and reframe it toward altruism and love for your parents.
However, if it continues, you may have to be prepared to put your foot down at some point and deny them what they’re asking for.
This might be very difficult to do, but if you’ve set clear boundaries about the guilt tripping they’re using, and they ignore those boundaries, it’s up to you to lovingly keep this boundaries.
4. Learn To Forgive Them
If you feel like dealing with guilt tripping parents has had a significant impact on your life, this one might be tough.
But your parents are not bad people – they did the best they could with what they had.
Learning how to forgive and let go of the slights others have made against us can be difficult and painful, but staying anchored in that place of hurt makes it difficult to heal and grow.
Consider journaling and meditating on it to help organize your thoughts.
And of course, it’s also helpful to…
Book Your Appointment With Evelina Hovich Today
If you struggle with guilt tripping parents, you’re not alone.
But it can be a major obstacle toward building a strong, healthy relationship with them.
I can help.
Book your appointment today with me, Evelina Hovich, and let’s work through your feelings of guilt to begin manifesting the life of your dreams.