What is Guilt trip, and how to avoid it

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Has someone ever made you blame yourself or feel bad about something that may not be your fault? If yes, you know how it feels like to be guilt-tripped. Guilt trips are psychological manipulation, carefully crafted and induced by yourself or someone else. Such manipulation aims to leave the victim feeling guilty for a problem they may not have caused.

Guilt trip perpetrators are very courteous with their manipulative scheme; they tend to execute their plan with various conniving methods that are seemingly un-harmful, but detrimental in reality. More often, these perpetrators have an ulterior motive and would stop at nothing to get what they want.

Unfortunately, anyone can be at the receiving end of a guilt trip scheme, or responsible for crafting one, and it is most familiar with people closest to you since you care more about their feelings.

The good news is, there are obvious signs you can watch out for to identify a manipulative scheme aimed at guilt-tripping. In this article, we identify some of these tactics and discuss ways to resist and reject this form of psychological maltreatment.

Guilt-tripping tactics

Guilt trippers employ different trick and tactics to execute their plan. For the unsuspecting victim, these giveaways may seem vague, and they miss them; however, the opposite case applies to their aware counterparts, as they would be able to recognize these tactics and act accordingly.

Sometimes this form of psychological manipulation doesn’t occur outright but instead takes place passively. This could be in the form of silent treatment such as; isolation, expressing dissatisfaction with negative body language, shows no interest and ignore your efforts to alleviate the problem explicit antagonism. These passive tactics aim to upset the target, get them to react, and consequently manipulate them into feeling inadequate and apologetic for their reaction.

Some guilt trippers may employ the use of sarcastic remarks during a conversation about the issue; the aim could be to make the victim feel less, or ashamed of themselves, prompting them to prove the guilt tripper wrong and falls for their manipulative scheme.

Furthermore, some may guilt-trip their victims with past events or instances when they were of aid, and their victims were in need. They may say a thing like “have you forgotten how I helped you when..?” “If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t have all these” “Remember you owe me…” and other similar themes. This tactic can be very tempting to give in to, as guilt trippers make it seem like you owe them a return favour. Although, giving in to their demands may seem like a reasonable thing to do, but it could be a wrong decision in reality because a friend with pure intentions would likely help you without hoping for anything in return.


Who is vulnerable to guilt trip?

The most common target for guilt trippers is the people closest to them because the closer the target is to them, the more emotionally attached and vulnerable they are to be guilt-tripped.  Regardless of the type of relationship, when guilt trips are continually being waged by one or both parties, such a relationship is bound to fail at some point.

Guilt can gradually transform into resentment and could prompt the victim to retaliate, which wouldn’t be healthy for that relationship. People who are frequently guilt-tripped by a friend may decide to end that friendship. The same could be said about married couples with a psychologically manipulative spouse.

Another set of individuals who are very vulnerable to guilt trip are children; they are young and inexperienced, making them defenceless and unable to protect themselves from guilt trippers. Guilt-tripping takes a very negative effect on young children, especially if the perpetrator is their parent, guardian or any other authoritative figure in their life. Such kids may grow up disliking the person and may experience emotional issues.

Common reasons for a guilt trip

The reasons or motives behind guilt-tripping may differ from one perpetrator to the other. While some could be for selfish reasons, some intentions could come from a place of neediness and insecurity. Some individuals result in guilt-tripping others because unable to adequately express and feel it’s the only way to get what they want. Others may guilt trip to maintain a never-ending power trip, but still, feel dissatisfied knowing that being abusive doesn’t breed genuine happiness.

Do you think you are guilt-tripped?

Guilt trip

How to deal with guilt-tripping

No doubt, guilt-tripping causes a lot of damages and havoc. However, there are several ways to resist and reject such manipulative schemes, some of which includes:

1. Know yourself

The truth is no one is above making mistakes, and might seem like a noble deed to take the burden of others. However, it is unrealistic always to take responsibility for the shortcomings of others. Knowing yourself entails acknowledging the power you have to dictate what happens in your life, having high self-esteem, recognizing that you are not a bad person simply because you made a mistake, among others. Knowing yourself is the first and most crucial step to protect yourself from guilt trippers and is also essential for every other aspect of life.

2. Know the person

In this case, knowing the person is far from knowing their names and favourite kinds of stuff, but rather implies that you study them through your conversations with them and their actions. Sometimes, the perpetuator may pretend to be good to you till they establish a closer relationship with you. This is one of the reasons why you should be watchful and study the people you let into your life. If the person exhibits a usual pattern of guilt-tripping, you should consider taking the necessary actions to protect yourself.

Hint: Always watch out for patterns in their behaviours

3. Set boundaries

When you notice that the person exhibits guilt-tripping tactics, creating boundaries in your relationship with them can help you avoid the harmful effect of their manipulation. Begin to dictate how much time you want to spend with them, the kind of things you wouldn’t mind them discussing with you and also set limits on the responsibilities in the relationship. By setting boundaries, you leave guilt trippers with fewer avenues to make you a target, and can eventually ward them off.

4. Stand up for yourself


Since guilt trippers work mainly by manipulating the emotions of their victims, learning to stand your ground can serve as a defence mechanism. When you exhibit fear, weakness or uncertainty in the presence of your manipulator, you create room for them to carry out their plan effectively. Always remember to be firm, clear and direct when conversing with such persons. Always stand up for yourself.

Hint: Some manipulators could pretend to be emotional also to get their victim emotional; therefore, always scrutinize the reason behind their emotions by questioning them, and stand your ground regardless of how they feel.

5. Keep distance if possible

As extreme as it may seem, some situations may warrant an immediate and permanent end to contact with guilt trippers; especially if you have had a bad experience due to the person’s manipulation. When guilt tripper put up a manipulative scheme, they tend to disregard the person they attempt to abuse emotionally. Nothing good can come out from a constant association with such a person, and their toxic behaviour begins to take its toll at some point.


If you feel you have been a target of guilt trips or you unknowingly associate with psychologically manipulative persons but want to pull through. You must acknowledge the fact that you are not responsible for your mistreatment, and be willing to take responsibility for your mental well-being. Mind you, and it is unacceptable to be taken advantage of emotionally, to satisfy the selfish desires of others. Adopt the tips in this article for proper guidance to resist and reject guilt-tripping, and save yourself from its detrimental effects.

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