Overcoming False Guilt
"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"1
Yesterday we explained the difference between real guilt, false guilt, and shame. Today we address the question of how we can be freed from false guilt.
Because the feelings of false guilt (and shame) have been conditioned over many years, we don't undo or re-condition them overnight.
First, however, we need to recognize what is real guilt and godly sorrow, and what is false guilt. As Jesus pointed out, when we are His true followers we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.
When someone is using false guilt; that is, trying to manipulate us to feel guilty if we don't do what they want us to do, we need to recognize their game and refuse to allow them to control us—regardless of how we feel. It will take a while to master this and you will probably begin to feel angry at that person and yourself for letting yourself be controlled. However, the more you resist this kind of control, the stronger you will become and the better you will feel about yourself.
A good response to "guilt throwers" is to say kindly, "You're not trying to make me feel guilty are you?"
Of course they will deny it, but if you stop being a "guilt catcher," "guilt throwers" will eventually stop throwing their “guilt trip” at you—and throw it to others who don’t recognize their devious manipulation.
A good place to begin practicing saying "No" is to insensitive high-pressure sales people because you are not emotionally involved with them.
When dealing with “guilt throwers,” again the key is to recognize their ploy or tactic and simply say “no” to what they want you to do if you don’t want to do it. The more you exercise your "no-muscle" with "guilt-throwers" the stronger in character you will become and the easier it will be to say no to those who want you to do things you don't want to do.
I love the country-western song that says to a pushy unwelcome suitor, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”
Overcoming shame is a different challenge because shame has been programmed into your self-concept. We'll deal with this in our next Daily Encounter.
To be continued....
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the insight to recognize when someone is trying to lay a guilt trip on me, and give me the courage to say no to them in a kindly fashion—so that I will become stronger in character—and not a guilt-thrower myself. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. John 8:31-32 (NIV).