Author Cristina Smugala, MA, LPC Restoring Clarity Counseling and Coaching
There is nothing that can make you feel like a disgracefully shameful human being quite like the guilt trip. It's that horrible sinking feeling that we get in our chest that screams we are letting someone we care about down and leaves us feeling like we are a sad merciless soul. We see the look of disappointment on the guilt tripper's face, they may even criticize us or put us down or blame us for whatever hardship we supposedly created for them. We leave the interaction broken, give into their demand even when there are high consequences for us, our time and our sanity. These individuals have a great way of making us feel responsible for their hardships, their pain and their lot in life.
Understanding the Guilt Tripper's Intention
They use manipulation to get their needs met instead of doing the hard work of learning to love themselves. In a sick way, guilt tripper's are using you to feel loved, worthy, important, needed and meaningful. The problem is, they use guilt as a way to avoid effective communication of these feelings by avoiding vulnerability in relationships. It is a form of control.  It is purposeful and intentional and a major contributor to decreased self-esteem for the receiver. It quickly places the manipulator into the role of the victim and you in the rescuer role feeling as if you've perpetrated a horrible offense. Recognize it for what it is, it's emotional and psychological abuse.
How to Respond to the Guilt Tripper in your Life
1. Understand they are utilizing a manipulation tactic as soon as you begin to feel guilty and are contemplating how you can bend over backwards to meet their need, request or demands. You instantly begin to feel bad about things that are not true about you or your behavior.
2. Call awareness to the tactic they are using, stand firm with your boundary and state your feelings about it. You can do this simply by asking, are you trying to make me feel guilty? You can also use direct and effective communication strategies such as “I feel ___when you _____ what I need from you is to stop making me feel like a horrible person" or "It makes me feel guilty and hurt when you say things like this to me and it really pushes me away from you." 
3. Remember this is a tactic the guilt tripper uses and will continue to use because it has worked for them in the past. Don't get discouraged if you have to restate and reset your boundaries, or put simply what is ok and not ok to do to you. 
4. Don't be afraid to give the guilt tripper a consequence to hold them accountable to their behavior such as "If you continue to say hurtful things to me this way to make me feel guilty I will need to stop this conversation.
5. Know yourself and trust yourself. You are a kind and thoughtful individual and you do not deserve to be made to feel like you are anything less. Don't trust a manipulator (i.e. a completely unreliable source of information) when defining your self-worth.
6. It is alright to empathize with the underlying emotions the guilt tripper is unable to communicate effectively (e.g sadness, fear, inadequacy, loneliness, disappointment) while also understanding that their feelings are not your fault. Don't apologize when you are not the root cause of their distress but you can validate their feelings if you feel that they can express appropriately if you open the door for healthy communication. A way to do this would be to say, It sounds like you're struggling right now. Do you want to talk about it ?" 
7. Identify your own fears or barriers about saying no or expressing your feelings (e.g. that they will end the relationship, they will think you are mean or get mad at you, or struggling to feel that your needs/feelings are valuable, or feeling that you are undeserving). One of the best pieces of knowledge a friend shared with me is, "When you request something of someone who is a healthy individual they go into the request fully understanding that you saying no is a possibility and an acceptable response and will push you no further."
1. Orloff, MD , J. (2014, October 4). Do You Have a Guilt Tripper in Your Life? - Judith Orloff MD. Retrieved from https://drjudithorloff.com/do-you-have-a-guilt-tripper-in-your-life/.
2. Ketchie, V., & Ketchie, L. (2018, August 13). How To Navigate A Guilt Trip | Relationship Helpers. Retrieved from https://relationshiphelpers.net/how-to-navigate-a-guilt-trip/.
3. Team, T. B. (2017, August 29). How to Handle Guilt Messages from Your Mom. Retrieved fromhttps://www.boundariesbooks.com/boundaries/handle-guilt-messages-from-your-mom/.
4. Davies, J. (2017, June 3). What Is a Guilt Trip and How to Recognize If Someone Is Using It on You. Retrieved from https://www.learning-mind.com/guilt-trip/.
5. The Bullshit, C. (2017, December 15). Guilt Trip - A Form of Bullying. Retrieved from https://pairedlife.com/etiquette/Guilt-Tripping-is-a-Form-of-bullying.
6. Winch Ph.D., G. (2013, May 16). 7 Ways to Get Out of Guilt Trips. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201305/7-ways-get-out-guilt-trips.
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