Four Questions to Stop the Guilt-Trip
How often do you find yourself dealing with guilt? Do you wonder whether you said something hurtful? Let someone down? Left a job unfinished or failed at achieving a goal? Do you lay awake at night ruminating over feelings of shame or thoughts of not measuring up?
Cindy had a falling out with a friend when she expressed frustration about being stood up for a luncheon date. Jeri confronted her mother because she was verbally abusive when Jeri was a child. Both women felt overwhelmed by guilt afterwards – rehearsing in their minds how they could have approached their situations differently.
Carolyn lives with the memories of making poor choices when she was a teenager. Now, she is a single parent living with the regret of not finishing her education or finding the man of her dreams.
What can these women do? How can they get past the torture of self-reproach and shame? I’d like to share with you four questions you can ask yourself in order to conquer and move out of the guilt-trip:
- What was the issue or event that occurred? Write out what actually occurred — what the other person said and did.
- How did I respond and what did I communicate? Describe what you said and how you acted. Rate your response and communication. Was it honest, respectful, loving and considerate? Did you stick to the facts or did you commit character assassination?
- What can I do to make amends? Here is your opportunity to work on reconciliation. Call or write the person stating you now realize you may have been harsh or disrespectful. Apologize. State that you would like a fresh start. If you feel hurt by something he/she did – talk about what was said or done (the facts only) that hurt you. Make it clear that you want to move past this and build a better relationship.Another aspect in this step is to make amends with the God of the universe. Consider what Jesus Christ has to offer you through His sacrifice and death on the cross. Once you trust in Him as Lord and Savior – you will experience reconciliation with the living God and forgiveness of sin. This decision to come into a relationship with Christ will set you free from the burden of guilt because He paid the penalty for all your sins and invites you to become part of His family.
- Am I dealing with false or true guilt? It is important to realize that you may be dealing with false guilt. It may be that you are too critical of yourself or that someone else has caused you to feel badly when there is no basis for it. You may not have anything to apologize for. In that case, the problem lies within your own mind and you need to let it go. If someone is accusing and blaming you falsely you can work through the questions and weigh the evidence about whether you have done something hurtful or wrong. Ultimately, God is your judge. He is the One to whom you will give an account. He is the One you can run to when you are uncertain, confused and burdened.
Accepting yourself as a human being with frailties is another important aspect of getting beyond the guilt-trip. No one is perfect. No one can claim to be the best wife, housekeeper, dresser, professional or business woman, mother, single parent or most well-educated. Grow in understanding God’s perspective about your worth, your flaws and strengths. Thank God for the grace He has for you, His unconditional love and ask Him for the power to move out of the guilt- trip.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.
Is this the life for you?
If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.