This photo isn't my daughter, but it easily could have been...
The other day my husband, daughter, dog and I drove a short distance to the forest near our house so we could go for a late afternoon walk. The dog happily jumped out of the car, ready to sniff, run, and swim. My daughter, on the other hand, was a little more unwilling.
Actually, she was completely unwilling.
From the moment my husband got her out of her car seat and set her down on the trail she started wailing. High-pitched 2 year old wailing, with tears screaming down her face. We tried to encourage her, and coax her to follow us, but nothing worked. As we slowly walked up the hill, she sank to her knees and cried even louder. Our “we are leaving you, you better follow” routine just wasn’t going to work.
Despite several attempts throughout, including hiding around the bend, we ended up carrying her the entire way. We went for a walk. She went for a carry.
For any of you with kids, this probably sounds very familiar. It is becoming more and more common for us as she approaches the 2 year mark.
What my daughter doesn’t realize is that she is using guilt as a tactic to get exactly what she wants. Her tears are her manipulation. Her cries are her pleas to say, “Do what I want or you’ll feel bad.”
It worked. It doesn’t all the time, but this time it did.
As adults we laugh at the tantrums and manipulation of our children, without realizing that we use the same strategy to get what we want. It’s not necessarily in the form of a tantrum, but it’s in the words that we use.
Your brother is flying in all the way from _____ for the holidays. Don’t you want to see him?
I spent all day slaving away in the kitchen for you.
Everyone else is going to be there, you have to come.
You’re leaving already? Your colleagues worked all night last night, you know.
I love you honey...now will you go and do _________?
Sometimes we use this words or phrases on purpose because we want people to feel guilty, but often times we use them without even knowing.
Either way, using guilt as a tactic to get what you want isn’t very kind, nor very honest.
Guilt is game we play to manipulate, or to seek revenge.
Guilt is a way of saying, “You aren’t doing what I want you to do, so I am going to make you feel bad until you do what I want,” or “You didn’t do something I wanted you to do, so now I am going to make you pay.”
No one wants to be motivated by guilt.
When we use guilt to motivate others, we aren’t honoring their choices. We aren’t honoring and respecting them for the decisions they are making. We are putting our desires above theirs, which is it’s own form of disrespect.
Don’t get me wrong, playing on people’s emotions is a great strategy for persuasion and debate. We see it all the time in society.
But is guilt the way you want to show your love for others, or the way you want to lead? Do you feel proud of yourself after you use guilt to get what you want? I know I don't.
It's your Life. Live It Boldly.