lady on white hood covering her face

Guilt and Self-Destructive Behaviors (Part 2 of 4)

Miss the first part? Read it here!



What’s the effect of all this knife twisting?

Maybe your fear of having too much devotion will cause you to be afraid of close relationships and so your search for love will never end well. In the chapter “Why Can’t I Fall in Love and Stay in Love,” you’ll read stories of people whose relationships were damaged by just this issue.

The Bludgeon

Let’s continue with our other style of guilt-provoking manipulation—the Bludgeon. An example of this type is when you act independently of your authoritarian parent and he or she loses control, explodes in anger, and screams at you because you weren’t obedient or submissive enough.

What’s the effect of bludgeoning?

In the chapter “Why Am I Fat and Why Can’t I Lose Weight?” you’ll read about Alice, who rebelled against her controlling parents by getting fat and staying that way.

Whether it’s a slowly twisting knife, a bludgeoning from a hammer, an icy stare or a cold shoulder, the effect of these over-emotional displays of exaggerated suffering is the same—to manipulate you to change a normal behavior or abandon a normal goal.

But why would you change what is normal and acceptable? Because you feel so guilty for inflicting such terrible pain, you’ll conform to their personality flaws no matter how resentful or damaging that may be for your life.

The Stranger at the Party

As a child, it’s hard to imagine that you have the power to inflict so much damage on your parents or siblings just by being yourself and doing the normal things that children do. But because they constantly act so wounded, it’s difficult for you to be unaffected by their guilt-provoking behavior.

Now think about this: If you had a brief encounter with an unpleasant stranger at a cocktail party, would you assume then that you were responsible for his offensive behavior? Or would you say to yourself, or to a friend, “What’s up with him?”


Continue reading:

Guilt and Self-Destructive Behaviors (Part 3 of 4)

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


wooden gavel on jury table

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.