Guilt. We all know what it feels like. At least, I know by growing up in an Eastern European ‘post communist’ coulture. It was virtually impossible to do something for myself without feeling the need to sacrifice personal pleasures for someone else. If I had an ounce of energy then common practice was to sacrifice it for someone else’s benefit.
There were times when I’d had enough so, it went into the other extreme of rebellious self saying ‘screw it, you deserve to feel good just do something nice for yourself’. Whilst taking some time out by turning off my phone and going for a walk alone I’d experience this great flood of thoughts. These were so strong it took up most of the ‘me time’, thinking about what if someone needs my attention or help. Maybe someone needs me at that exact moment and what will I tell them? Should I lie and say I had to help someone else or that I had a doctors appointment? My mind and emotional body were out of control.
Realising that this is not healthy and I was usually exhausted from helping others and not replenishing my own needs, this had to change. My choices to sacrifice my needs to fulfill other’s requests created resentment and anger – not a fun place to be. This was compounded down to comfort eating, pointless shopping and projecting my emotions onto my closest people.
It’s exhausting even thinking about it!
Our closest friends and in particular family members, tend to have the most power to manipulate our behaviour, if we’re not careful in our response. They know the triggers (consciously or not) and use it to get what they want. However, it’s a fantastic opportunity to evolve and learn about our deepest layers of personality.
One example is when the person mentions conditions on something they’ve done for you in the past and passively state their request to you. It’s a trap. Say ‘no thank you’. Or if you don’t know how to say ‘no’ then say ‘not right now, I will get back to you’. When you say yes to something you’re saying no to something else.
Make sure to stay true to your word and actually follow up. Do not make false promises and weasel your way out of agreeing. This creates not only trust issues between you and the other person but you run the risk of believing your own excuses. Once you start giving false excuses, then guess what – there’s more guilt compounded with lies.
Be honest, and see what happens.
When you hear even your dearest people say the words ‘I’d be so happy if you did this for me. If you don’t then I will be upset.’, please walk away. Alternatively, see that this person is unable to meet their own needs and they are trying to give you the gift of guilt if you don’t fulfill their request. It’s not your responsibility to make anyone else happy if they are not fulfilled within themselves first. Also it’s not sustainable for you to fill this request because another will soon follow. How long can you keep that up before you breakdown?
Here is a TED video furthering this topic by Dr. Caryn Aviv.
Say ‘no’ to guilt. Fulfill your own needs first. Give unconditionally.