Guilt is a useless feeling that is detrimental to emotional health and well-being. Many people, especially women, cannot say ‘no’ to the requests of others without feeling guilty. And as a result they end up feeling resentful and victimized. On the other hand, they are also likely to make others feel guilty by presenting themselves as martyrs. This creates a no-win situation for everyone. Instead, learn to say ‘no’ when you need to and say ‘yes’ only to the things you don’t mind doing. It’s important to be true to yourself and equally important to do things with a sincere heart. In the words of Michal Berg at Spirituality for Kids, don’t fall into the guilt trap.
The Guilt Trap
Are you one of those people who feel you do more than anyone else in your family?
Are you familiar with these thoughts that arise with a sense of injustice: Why am I the only person to see what’s really going on? Why am I the only one to take action? Why is no one else is thinking about it? When are they going to think about me?
I know I can slip into these thoughts at times. The crazy thing is that feeling injustice doesn’t make us stop or slow down. It’s exactly the opposite—we do more, but with bitterness and anger, and we make sure everyone knows it. Yes we probably do a lot, and yes it does get to be too much at times. But it is our choice!
If you are the kind of person who puts others’ needs before your own; if you are a person with a high sense of fairness and integrity, you are probably doing more than most people. But being unhappy about it and trying to make others feel guilty about it, is not a good representation of who you really are.
The trap we all fall into is that when we believe in something, or in a way of living, we tend to expect others to follow, and we get upset when they don’t. The notion of entitlement that comes with our beliefs is the actual problem.
So in order to be happy, we need to own our choice of who we want to be, how we want to live, and feel the fulfillment that comes with it. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. All we can really do is inspire others to be like us by showing them how strong and joyful we are.
Especially when interacting with our children, we don’t want to send the message that doing good means being a martyr. We can be more influential by sending these positive messages:
- Other people can’t affect who I am and how I behave;
- I am the only person whose behavior I can and should control;
- I choose to be happy with the way I live my life; and
- I can only affect a positive change with positivity.
Feel free to share your views about The Guilt Trap in the comments section below. Read more inspirational stories at Spirituality for Kids (spiritualityforkids.com).