Beyond Guilt

Say NO to Guilt! It isn’t even a real emotion; it’s as if we feel obliged to take on the feelings of someone close to us who needs us to feel their disappointment.

If there is one suggestion I can make to those of you needlessly suffering with "phantom" feelings of guilt... let it go - FAST! Whether you have a Jewish mum or a Baptist father, a needy room mate or co-dependent enabler, a stalking ex- or whining dog on the couch, DO NOT GET SUCKED IN!!

There seem to be many heavily-laden associations with guilt that we should understand before wholeheartedly succumbing to it.

Who taught us to feel responsible for their own disappointments? Who told us what we should be feeling or how we ought to respond? It's not necessarily just our parents or grandparents. We learned it from TV shows, movies, novels, Police Officers, Headmasters, Sergeant Majors and Referees.

Disapproving Look

It's in that "disapproving look" and dismissive turn of the head. The stern, harsh glance away and squint of the eye or raised eyebrow. We are literally conditioned by Neuro-Linguistic-Programmed parenting and disciplinary maneuvers! The power of suggestion is indeed very compelling and you might be shocked to discover just how conditioned you have become by the meta-communication (body language/gestures) of those dear to you.

I have previously written about approval in "Well, Excuse Me!" so the angle here is more about how we internalize the projections of others.The correct term is "introjection" which is the unconscious adopting of the ideas or attitudes of others, as explained by Psychoanalysts in the mid-19th Century.

The idea being that we will internalize or "buy into" the projected feelings and attitudes of those around us to the degree that we feel an obligation to feel what they are experiencing - even if it may not actually be true for us!

It is their powerful conviction targeted towards us that strikes our vulnerable bulls eye!

So, what is the pay off for us?Puppets-Instructed How To Think

We get to be directed and instructed how to think, feel and respond so we receive optimal approval and relief for having potentially offended or disappointed! Let's face it, it requires no individualization or risk on our part... I mean who wants to invite the terror of  the victim-like rage we would likely receive from our audacious challenge?

There's nothing worse than acting from obligation and emotional coercion.

We end up internalizing our resentment and become detached and withholding, while continuing to act in a "pseudo-mutual" or phony manner. This exacerbates our feelings of obligation and we resort to avoidance or passive-aggressive tactics of subtle retaliation!

It's all so convoluted and draining and offers absolutely no value at all.

Guilt-free pleasures.

So, what are more effective and authentic ways to stop getting sucked into these alluring ploys of guilt?

  • Know what you think and feel. No one else can convince you to feel anything other than what you are experiencing in your own emotional reality.
  • Let go of trying to please others and allow them to have their own reactions and feelings of disappointment as a result.
  • Stop pretending to agree with other people's opinions and beliefs if they conflict with your own. Own it!
  • The more you allow others to shape your responses, the more resentment and regret you will internalize.
  • Start developing your own assertive expression and respond honestly. (For example: "I can appreciate you see it that way, but this is how I intend to proceed...")
  • Be willing to risk the relationship! If they insist on manipulating and devaluing you, why are you holding on to them? Even if it's family, stand firm in your values and beliefs and let the chips fall where they lie.
  • Finally, allow yourself the freedom to discover your own voice. There is nothing more empowering than clarity and conviction in your own beliefs, feelings and actions.

Stand by your (inner) Man/Woman!!


Creative Commons License
Beyond Guilt by Jamie Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


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