The GUILT Trap…John Page Burton

All of us experience feelings of guilt. Guilt is an emotion that occurs when we believe we have violated a moral standard that we have been conditioned to believe is true. Many of us allow ourselves to be put on guilt trips. Guilt trips are no more than a manipulative tactic other people employ to gain a desired result from us. We have all been subject to those guilt trips that begin with “if you really loved me you would”…(fill in the blank) Those who routinely use guilt trips to gain an upper hand include parents, children, spouses, friends, employers, bill collectors, siblings, teachers, clergy members and just about everyone else we interact with. In short, guilt is one of the most effective ways to exert control over others.

Let’s take a closer look at the emotion of guilt and see if it really serves our higher good to hold onto these feelings.

G – Gullibility. Being gullible is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill advised course of action. We have all found ourselves in a situation we knew instinctively was not in our best interests, yet we moved forward anyway. Peer pressure is one of the most profound ways in which guilt is used. The fear of not “fitting in” with the group overrides our judgment and leads us to make decisions that are often not in our best interests. When our feelings of guilt begin to surface, we must stop and seek our truth. The emotion of guilt can only pray on those who are gullible.

U – Useless. In my opinion, of all of the human emotions guilt is the most useless. Guilt serves only one purpose…to keep us in bondage. When we feel guilty we are telling ourselves  something is OUR FAULT and we will NEVER be able to make it right. This is highly dramatic! We have all said and done things we would like to do over. Most of us have experienced the death of a loved one and wished we had told them how much we loved them while they were still alive. We have all been “dumped” by a significant other and contrary to what they told us it was not entirely our fault. Many of us have raised children who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. The child made a choice. The list of things we can CHOOSE to feel guilty about is a long one. With few exceptions, once we look at the true reality of any given situation it usually comes down to the choices that were made. Choices are based upon our knowledge and understanding at that point in time. New understanding=different results.

I – Ignorance. People who choose to be ruled by the emotion of guilt are actively choosing ignorance over intelligence. Ignorance is a deliberate act to ignore or disregard the truth. True emotional intelligence dictates that we are able to form a clear distinction between fact and fiction. Guilt is fiction!

L – Lack. When we are driven by feelings of guilt we possess a scarcity mindset. We are allowing a past hurt, event or circumstance to keep us from moving into a place of abundance. Many of us will use guilt as an excuse for staying stuck in a dead end job or relationship. “My boss said  this place couldn’t run without me” or ” my mom gets really sad when I don’t stop by EVERYDAY” are no more than self imposed excuses keeping us from moving forward. When we are coming from a place of abundance we make decisions that are in alignment with our dreams and ambitions and we refuse to be held hostage by guilt. This does not mean we are not compassionate, only that we are discerning.

T – Tombstone. The single greatest truth in life is that someday we will die. How we are remembered and what will be written on our tombstone is the final testament to how we lived our life. Were we bold and adventurous of were we afraid we might let others down? Did we think and act for ourselves or did we let those around us dictate the terms of our existence? Did we try and fail only to spend the rest of our life wrought with guilt because in our mind we failed? Did our marriage or a relationship fail and because of this we made a conscious decision to never love again? Each of us has the opportunity to author what is engraved on our tombstone. What will yours say?

If like many of us you find yourself operating from a place of guilt, it is time to let it go. We have all made mistakes and we are bound to make more. Our ability to forgive ourselves and move forward is the key to our happiness. When someone attempts to put you on a guilt trip simply let them know this is not the way you desire to communicate with them. If they cannot accept this you have nothing to feel guilty about because you are speaking your truth. Remember, the truth will set you free!

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

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