Instead of asking for help honestly, this person manages to make everyone feel sorry for her in order to get what she wants. Unfortunately she manipulates people in a negative way by taking a victim’s position. They don’t help her because they want to, but because they would feel bad if they didn’t.
Most of us use guilt trips once in a while. We have learned it from our parents, teachers, churches, the media and society in general. The telephone calls from charities rely on our feelings of guilt to get our money. Or we apply this technique to our partners or children to obtain what we want.
Is there an end to this? Yes, once we realize what we are doing. Why not be honest and admit openly we want money, help, or attention? By making people feel guilty, we are trying to make them feel bad because we already feel distressed (misery loves company!). Recognizing we are doing it – and understanding why – is a very empowering first step. Then, admitting we are looking for someone’s support is liberating. When I made this discovery and decided to do something about it, I felt ten-feet tall!
Of course, there is also the proper way to ask. It is not good to trick someone into doing something, but it is not better to order the person around. What we can do is either give options, or explain the positive result of the help we seek. How would you react to these different supplications?
1. As usual, I’m going to HAVE to wash this pile of dishes all by myself. With the migraine I have tonight...
2. You’d better do the dishes right now!
3. I really need help with the dishes. Can I count on you to do them within the next two hours?
4. I have a bad headache and I need rest now. Could you please do the dishes so that everything is tidy before we go to bed?
Don’t you think you would be more willing to do the dishes if you were given a choice (3) or an explanation (4)? I believe that if we all learned to ask honestly and kindly, many relationships would be a lot more harmonious. Refraining from using guilt trips will go a long way in getting positive results. See it for yourself!