Guilt and Self-Destructive Behaviors (Part 1 of 4)

Things to ponder

Guilt, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a feeling of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.

Do you ever wonder if your parents graduated magna cum laude from Guilt University? Do you ever suspect that they majored in Suffering with a minor in Acting Out of Control? All the while earning high grades for other maneuvers that make you feel guilty instantly?

I’m making light of something serious to make a point. That point is that we keep many of these guilt-provoking techniques in a place deep within us that affects our outlook, self-worth and future behavior.

Imagine a forest alive with trees that are growing taller year by year. Then, one day, a woodsman comes in, ax in hand and swinging hard. The damage he does to the health of the forest is extreme, harsh, and long-term.

Now think about these statements, some of which may sound familiar:

“How could you do this to me?” WHACK! “Some day you’ll realize what I’ve done for you!” WHACK! “I hope your children do to you what you’ve done to me!” TIMBER!

Just as the trees fall to the woodman’s ax, so does your ego under the blows of your parent’s comments. And their damage on you is just as extreme, harsh and long term. But just as the forest comes back to good health over time, so can you come back to your own state of health and happiness.

Communication takes many forms and so does manipulation. We’ve just touched on the verbal kinds of guilt-provoking examples, what about their nonverbal counterparts? Pouting. Withdrawing. Icy stares. Cold shoulders. Helpless sobbing. Forlorn looks. If all this drama is directed toward one small child, how could he or she not be affected?

Manipulation: Two New Varieties, Same Old Guilt

Ever experience the Knife Twist? How about the Bludgeon? Both bring you to the same place—guilt.

Manipulation via knife twisting

There are parents who want their child to devote to them excessively. A lot of times, no matter how unpleasant it is. What we may heard around the dinner table:

“I’m so miserable without you,”

“How could you be so selfish and so inconsiderate of me?”

“After all I’ve sacrificed for you”

Note that those words may be accompanied by one of the already mentioned nonverbal “forlorn looks”.

 

Continue reading the second, third and last part.

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