It’s a wonderful weapon. Mothers and wives have been using guilt as a tool for hundreds of years, because it works…..for a while….but is it really as effective as we think? And does it have any ‘side effects’?

Yes, and yes. It is effective, and it does come with a price.

Women use guilt to manipulate their partners into acting or doing what they want. “ No really, I don\t mind taking your mother to the dentist….you enjoy your golf game….I can mop the floors later, when everyone’s in bed. Lord knows, I don’t need rest….” Mothers use it as leverage. “You’re going to put me in an early grave if you keep this up” or “I don’t want to be a burden”.

I’m quite human, so not above using guilt on my husband. Sometimes it’s the only way to ‘get the message through’, and it does work. I just have to be very selective about when or how I use it, otherwise he’s on to me and the effort is wasted. (Good guilt is a terrible thing to waste) I also have to measure the frequency with which I lay it on. Too often and it loses its’ effect, then he just tunes me out. Too infrequently and he starts to think he’s the perfect husband and I’m lucky to have him, and we can’t have that. (next thing you know he’s bragging about how lucky I was to snare him) Ya gotta nip that one in the bud pronto!

I think it’s safe to say everyone uses guilt at some time or another, and I will acknowledge that more often than not, we use it unconsciously. At least one would hope so because while guilt is something most people see through and can brush off, there are those more sensitive souls who carry the burden of guilt deeply. It affects their mood and happiness because they always feel like they’ve disappointed someone.

Laying too much guilt on someone can weaken their self-esteem, and it brings to question the level of respect the relationship has. If you have to use guilt to leverage your position with someone, you probably don’t have as strong a relationship with them as you think, and if you keep it up, they’ll eventually tire of trying to please you, and give up. Find another strategy.

I would also hazard to guess that guilt is a tool used more by women than men. (God, that really sticks in my craw! Why are women always the heavy? ) In a perfect world men would know what to do without our asking. They would know exactly what to say without prompting. In short, they wouldn’t look liked wounded animals when you lay the guilt on because (if they had the brain of a woman) you wouldn’t need to use it.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and we are not perfect people (men or women) and until such time as we are, I, and probably every living, breathing female, will continue to utilize this valuable tool to get what we want. Just remember to use it responsibly; gauge your intended victim for resilience – make sure they’re the kind who can handle it. Be selective about when you use it (pick your battle) and don’t be too subtle, otherwise your message will go right over their heads and all your effort with be wasted.

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One thought on “Guilt

  1. Wise, Em. Flagellation with guilt over an extended period can backfire. Indeed, not only do they tune out, but an otherwise just cause can be seen negatively altogether and sympathy replaced with antipathy.

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