Harmful Personalities: 5 “Traffickers” of Guilt
Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who are ready and willing to make you feel guilty. Whether it's a friend, family member, or coworker, you have to learn to identify when something is truly your fault, or if the other person is simply trying to take advantage of your guilt.
Traffickers of guilt are all around you. Some of them are very close and it’s easy to fall into their power during certain times of your life.
These are people who are accustomed to – and skilled at – projecting a deep sense of guilt upon others in order to dominate them. In turn, this makes you fall into a continuous cycle of negative emotions in which you believe that everything you do is wrong and you’re not worth anything.
This is without a doubt a kind of manipulation that’s as sharp as it is destructive.
This type of dynamic is exercised on all levels. It can happen within your family, between couples, and even in the workplace.
It’s so common that we’re virtually certain everyone knows at least one person who exercises this ability. We’re equally sure you’ll find it useful to learn how to identify this behavior.
Let’s take a deeper look at guilt traffickers.
The dangerous game of guilt and its protagonists
One of the most lethal power “games” that you can carry out among friends, family, or at work is without a doubt the projection of guilt.
There are many ways to carry out these tricks. Nevertheless, the way you become responsible for some things and not others always depends on the type of manipulator – the guilt trafficker.
You can’t use the same power game on your partner as you would on a family member, for example.
Let’s take a look at the different types of guilt traffickers.
1. The charitable and affectionate one
“I’m telling you this because I love you and I want the best for you – what you’re doing is wrong for you, and you’re also neglecting the most important people who care about you.”
Here’s what’s wrong with this:
- This type of phrasing is a clear example of emotional abuse.
- These phrases humiliate the recipient and blame them for the unhappiness or discomfort of those around them.
- Such behavior is very common at the family level.
- Another example may be: “If you take that job and move out, you’ll be unhappy and that will make us all unhappy. It’s not right for you, darling.”
In this case, the guilt that is projected on you is accompanied by the affection of someone who’s important to you. In addition, just by having a close link with these types of people, the impact is stronger and deeper.
2. Those who make you responsible for everything
When you drop a plate, it’s because you’re hopelessly clumsy. If you burn your food, it’s because you were daydreaming. If you blow a tire, it’s because you never remember to the mechanic and have them checked.
You might know someone who sounds like this.
There are people with the ability to hold others accountable for everything that’s wrong that happens to them.
This is a slow and progressive form of destruction that must be recognized and stopped as quickly as possible.
3. Those who validate their self-esteem by turning you into a clumsy puppet
“It’s clear that without me around you can’t do anything – have you seen how you ruined it just by touching it?” “You’re always messing up everything you do. From now on, I’ll take care of it myself.”
- This is a classic example of a toxic relationship and a very specific means of domination.
- The person who exercises power projects an unfounded guilt upon you, which serves to validate himself or herself as a person.
- They do this by undervaluing your actions, thoughts, and personality. If you don’t take a stand against this, their advance is unstoppable.
They will make you believe that you are nothing and they are everything.
4. Those who don’t understand how to take responsibility for their own mistakes
There’s no doubt that you already know more than one person like this.
They make mistakes, act recklessly, cause serious problems thanks to their attitude or behavior…but they’re unable to take responsibility for their actions.
What’s worse, instead of assuming the blame, they’re experts at projecting it onto others.
They might say, “It’s your fault because you shouldn’t have listened to me,” or, “This is your doing because you were overly confident.”
5. The ones who do it for your own good to “teach you”
Making others take the blame for things is, for many, an attempt to teach them to take responsibility and grow as a person.
This often happens in the business world, for example:
- Imagine that there’s a manager who holds you accountable for the mistakes of others and “demands” that you solve them.
- To justify their demands, they remind you that everyone should be responsible because that’s how things work in a business.
- Also think of parents who make one sibling take responsibility for the mistakes of another sibling. They are often “charged” with the guilt because they are the oldest, the youngest, the boy, or the girl.
This is the wrong tactic. In every family or business environment, each person must be accountable for his or her own actions and responsibilities.
Blaming someone else for other’s mistakes or careless errors will ultimately lead to stress and undermine that person’s self-esteem.