What are the BEST examples of guilt trips you’ve ever seen?

159 Comments

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Hi from your Surrogate Asian Father.

As you know, if there’s one thing I understand, it’s guilt. See, I was raised by the best. (And if you’re Asian, Indian, Jewish, or basically if you have any ethnic parents or relatives, you know what I mean.)

Even if you don’t, we ALL know what guilt feels like. Sometimes it’s this nebulous feeling of things we “should” be doing…exacerbated by our parents or relatives. On the other hand, sometimes WE’RE the ones making ourselves feel guilty more than anyone else!

On tomorrow’s live webcast, I’ll be covering guilt — including some strategies to conquer it.

But I want to know the BEST guilt trip you’ve ever encountered. Was it…

  • Your parents saying, “Don’t you ever put me in an old folks’ home”?
  • Your uncle saying, “Look at Jon — he has the best grades in his whole school”
  • You realizing you hate your major in college, but feeling guilty about letting someone down if you switched?

Those are simple examples. I know with a group of weirdos like you, you have even crazier ones. Leave a comment with your best examples of guilt trips and I’ll feature the best tomorrow.

And if you haven’t locked in a spot for my presentation on guilt, you can sign up in less than 10 seconds, free.  

This is a one-time only presentation and it will not be recorded.

Enjoy the comments and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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159 Comments

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  1. So my mother *HATES* driving in big cities. I have no clue where this fear comes from, but she basically refuses to do it. My Dad had hip surgery two years ago in Houston (where I live) and has to stay over night for a couple of nights.

    My mom has the car and my apartment is about 3-4 miles away. I tell her to go straight out of the parking lot and take a right. Stay on that road until she sees the MASSIVE fountain, take a left and go straight until you see my apartment. Basically, two very straight roads and one turn.

    I’m giving her directions because I’m at a concert with friends about a mile and a half from my apartment at a local bar. She refuses to drive and asks me to come get here. I explain the situation. It’s a random Wednesday so there are no cabs around and rode with a friend.

    “I understand. It’s not like I ever drove you to baseball practice, cooked you hot meals every night, helped pay for your private school tuition,” she said.

    That’s probably the most guilty I’ve ever felt. She’s was right, but dayum…. Mom.

    I WALKED the mile and a half in Cowboy boots to my apartment, got in my truck and went to get her. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever forget that.

    • Pure gold! You are a good son, btw.

    • This is absurd. Love is not a ‘you owe me now’. I disagree with ramit. At a certain point you become an enabler to an abusive relationship when you don’t allow that person, in this case your mother, to learn to help themselves and grow. Doesn’t mean you have to be rude, just means you need to set some serious boundaries.

    • I guess I fundamentally disagree with you, Jess.

      Was my mother’s guilt trip a little over the top? Yes. In this instance am I enabling a behavior that (to me) seems ridiculous? Probably.

      However we all have fears and hangups that might be ridiculous to other people and she was right. She wasn’t “cashing in” at my expense, but merely reminding me of all the things she’s done for me throughout the course of my life. That list is never-ending, by the way. Her spouse and kids have always come first.

      The second half of a concert won’t ever take precedence over the person who has *always* been there for me any more than I would prioritize some work project over my wife.

      Besides, I decide how something makes me feel. My reaction, in this instance, was to feel guilt, but I’m the one who gets to choose my personal reaction and how someone makes me feel.

    • I like you Ryan. You sound very sane in the best way.

    • Ryan,

      I am not sure how this will help. I am a mother. I am also very afraid to drive in big cities. Mainly is because I care about the car (I would hate to see I am causing financial problems). I may try it if I do not have other choices (there is always taxi service). I wanted to give you an idea that your mom is not the only mother with such fear, and it should not make us bad people. I do not do it to abuse anybody. I am just not confident in my abilities of driving good enough, not to cause problems (car, other innocent people etc). So maybe we are just responsible people, knowing our limits. I think this is my case. I am sorry I am missing out on being a confident driver, because having the independence of going places is just amazing. Free to do anything you want, when you want (my husband once forgot to pick me up from work, so I waited an hour before I asked if he is coming; lucky me I called because he was too focused on his job and he forgot). You can not expect anyone to understand us if you never walked a mile in our shoes. I believe whoever is using guilt to make someone else do stuff are not very intelligent. Now is just a matter of having enough compassion to put up with this behavior, enable them. I do not have the patience. I would call it as it is. I would not put myself through such undignified experience, using guilt to make someone do things for me. Narcissist parents do that very often… My sister would use guilt when she needs my money, just because, not for a very good reason… She would say my beloved mother, would see me and she would not approve, from heaven above. It makes me so sad, to see how one tries to manipulate someone else like this.

    • It’s your family. Of course you will defend the scenario. But, she wasn’t just ‘merely reminding you’ like you were out at lunch and having a conversation about the past, your childhood, and your upbringing over tea. She wasn’t getting what she wanted, you proceeded to explain politely that you were out and even tried other alternatives, she still didn’t like that you were busy/not coming right away/what have you, and decided to emotionally manipulate you to get what she wanted. And she did. You didn’t get to choose that feeling.

      Whether you want to overlook that or down play it, it is what you describe. The fact that you emphasize that you will never forget feeling that way means a lot more to you emotionally than it seems you are willing to investigate.

      I hope you do think about your relationship a bit more and perhaps talk to her about it.

    • Jess, stop being a concern troll. Ryan clearly understands it was a guilt trip. That doesn’t mean his mom is “abusive.” You and I have no idea what kind of boundaries or relationship he has with his mom. I think you’ve made your point. Let’s leave it at that.

    • Ramit,

      The scenario laid out was a textbook example of emotional abuse, as are many many more of the comments to this post.

      I stand by what I wrote and I do hope my perspective helps.

    • Ryan, you are so lucky! I wish I could give a ride to my mom.
      Your only mistake was the cowboy boots. I mean really, what were you thinking.

  2. From mom:
    Go home before 7pm or else I will die from heart attack. Do you want that?

  3. Once upon a time in the summer, my brother and I were having dinner with my parents. As we finished our plates, my mom asked us what our plans were for the evening.

    “Oh, I’ll probably just go out with some friends,” I said.

    “Yeah, I’ll be hanging out with Rob and Sam,” my brother said. “What about you, Mom?”

    My mom said in this “woe-is-me” voice, “Guess I’ll be doing the dishes all by myself.”

    My brother responded, “WELL, WHY DON’T YOU JUST SLIT YOUR WRISTS ALREADY.”

    My mom’s the travel agent for guilt-trips. But by this point we all see through her and call her out on it.

  4. The worst guilt trip ever, is whenever my mom felt like it, she decided to tell me ” I was in the worst pain of my life for 13 hours, for you… And this is how you treat me?”

    When she used this:
    I talked back
    I wouldn’t clean the bathroom
    I didn’t want to do something
    I wanted to do something

    I have vowed to never ever ever say this to my kids

  5. I was (albeit foolishly) engaged to my college boyfriend. My mom opposed the relationship. She has a chronic illness that sometimes prevents her from being able to get out of bed, and it had flared up around the time I was engaged. She called me into her bedroom one day (stale air, curtains drawn, breathing machine running, uneaten plate of food next to her….) and told me that she had relapsed, that it was because she was so worried about me that she couldn’t sleep, and that her not sleeping had caused the relapse. She went on to say that she didn’t think she was going to pull through this time and she was sure she was going to die, and therefore my relationship was killing her.

  6. I tried to put in my two weeks notice at work- about 4 years ago. My boss said to me ” Are you sure you want to leave us in a potion like this? We are already under staffed, our customers would be devastated, and your the best person we have for the job” I felt so guilty like I was jumping ship. So even though I was miserable I stayed. Then it became my security blanket so I couldn’t leave. I can’t believe it took me so long to break the chains and leave. I’ve been out of there since Novemeber and feeling so much happier!

    • That’s interesting… something very similar happened to me. I actually gave a month’s notice but the boss said pretty much the same thing – and that came from the person who had a history of yelling at me, and from the company that never once gave me a payrise while I was in that position…
      I didn’t stay. It made me firmer about quitting.

      I’m usually very bad at judging people and have been guilt-tripped (successfully) many times, so it actually makes me quite grateful when somebody is being such an hypocrite (and a jerk) in such an obvious way :)

  7. The worst guilt trip ever pulled on me was when my mother didn’t want to take me to school in the mornings so she’d convince me to play hookie by saying, “You’d rather go to school and hang out with your friends (which she knew I had exactly 0) than hang out with your lonely Momma today?” It would continue with such things as “No, no, it’s ok, I can take care of myself today.” and “Don’t worry about me.” She laid it on THICK!

    Good thing school was easy for me because on my surprisingly high scoring report cards I often had 20-30 days of absences!

    I impress myself.

    • Seriously? Your mom purposely had you missing school? Are you ok? I mean that sort of opens the door for much more concerning behaviors.

  8. My ex fiancée’s mom used to passive aggressively guilt trip me about my weight, the wedding, her son, basically anything she could think of. Then my ex fiancée start to join in by saying things like “You owe me, I bought you an engagement ring.”

  9. When I was in my freshman year of high school, I failed a semester of Biology. Not the whole year – I squeaked by for the year, but on my midterm report card I was failing by a few points.

    When my mom got the report card, I was at school. She drove to the school in the afternoon and as soon as the bell rang, found me and made me wait in the lobby while she talked to my biology teacher. Then she packed me into the car and spent a very tense ride asking me what had happened. When I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, she drove us to my favorite ICE CREAM SHOP, got us both big sundaes, sat us down with our ice cream at the table right in front of the huge window at the front of the shop, and proceeded to tell me how lucky, smart and privileged I was and how I was a lazy and ungrateful kid who was squandering every advantage, and my parents had done so much for me and worked so hard to be where they were, and had given me so much, etc., etc.

    By the end of it, I was sobbing over my ice cream, in public and in full view of everyone passing by in the street. It hasn’t stopped, either, not through all of high school, college, or now when I’m doing accountancy classes in the evenings. When I get good grades, she “congratulates” me by reminding me of the bad ones I’ve gotten.

    • If you don’t lay down the law and put an end to that, it only gets worse. Been there, done that, just “ruined the family” at age 30 because they’d started in on the next generation, my kid, and I all-but-severed ties. I don’t recommend waiting as long as I did.

      You asked for my opinion, right? :)

    • Yeah, my mom has had me in tears millions of times. I’m 41 now. She is a bitter, angry lady who gets a good hit of power from taking me down a notch when she can. I figured out in the past ten years that the longer I’m away from her, the happier I am. And I can finally do that. I stay away, I don’t call back, I don’t listen to her. She is beginning to regret all the times she’s shamed me, which is …nice.

    • Yeah – I’m trying to put an end to it. She doesn’t make it easy…

  10. I rarely feel guilty because I put a lot of thought into the pros and cons of my actions. So, the worst guilt trip for me was not something someone else did, but what I did to myself.

    I was living and teaching in China. On my way into work one day, I saw a man without legs laying on the ground begging for money. My translator told me not to give him anything even though it was obvious I wanted to give him a few coins. He informed me that the government takes care of injured people by paying for their apartments and utilities, giving them food and clothing. They give them enough that these injured people live more comfortably than farmers and industry workers in China.

    Later that week I saw someone that talking to themselves and eating near rotten food out of the trash. I followed my translator’s advice and didn’t give them my brand new bottle of water, but that didn’t mean I didn’t feel pity. I found out later that these were a whole new class of people in China called “second sons”, which are the second child of a couple. They are illegal, and thus not considered people in China. They don’t exist on paper, therefore they can get no aid, no job, and do nothing. They subsist solely on the scraps of society and they are scorned by most.

    I felt guilty because I did not know the difference and I could have aided a stranger that really needed it.

    Happily, I did not make this mistake again. I learnt to identify these outcasts and give them empty bottles and which they can cash in for money to buy wanted and needed. After all, I was a foreigner, so clearly I didn’t know what I was doing was against their societal norms. I was forgiven for helping these outcasts. And I don’t regret showing kindness at all.

    • Wow, Grace, your name suits you. That is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing! I had no idea about the “second son” phenomenon in China.

    • You’re welcome, Diana!

      In China these kids get to be adults because they are hid from the system by family and friends in the villages. When the government official comes by to tally the numbers, the second sons are “just visiting relatives”.

      What’s shocking is that when they get caught, the kids are taken to a sort of concentration camp where they are imprisoned and worked to death. I asked what happened there, but my translator wouldn’t answer. He said it was a sad, shameful story. =/

  11. Every time my mother wants me to go with her somewhere and I say no she goes with: “If (insert friend name here) asked you to go out with them right now, you would.”
    It’s funny because she knows I barely go out and I just look at her and say: “No I wouldn’t.”

  12. My parents are very religious and since college I have stopped going to the church I grew up in. After graduation I moved in with my parents for a few months (avoid this at all costs in the future and for other college-aged adults!). Easter rolls around and I’m lying in bed listening to them getting ready for church. My mom knocks and comes in, “Dad would like me to invite you to church.” My dad has never been good at one-on-one personal requests. I respond, “No thank you,” and she leaves.

    About five minutes later my dad knocks, walks in, and asks, “Will you not join us for Easter Sunday?” Oh ya…did I mention he’s bishop and therefore shepherd over an entire 300-person congregation? “No, Dad, I won’t.” I hear his frustration as he sighs, “You know you are being extremely ungrateful to your parents and your blessings from the Lord by staying home today.” I hate confrontation like this and so all I say is, “Well, I’m sorry!” and shoo him out. “I’m sorry for you too!” he says and shuts the door.

    I had only recently, within a year, stopped going to church. As I mentioned, this was the church I grew up in and was very devote until I made the decision I didn’t need it any longer. Having my dad, a man whom I respect and admire, trying to shame me into attendance was a bit too much. I left the house and made it a point to be moved out within a month. It took me another three…but they didn’t try to get me to church again.

  13. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I had gone to a professor I had worked with previously, let’s call her Dr. S., and used some snazzy networking to snag an internship at a science lab in Japan.

    Japanese workplaces use guilt trips and public shaming as a daily strategy. Two weeks into my internship, I made a mistake with something — and my superiors proceeded to chew me out, in public, while the rest of the department stared at me stone-faced.

    They pretty much capped the public shame with “Dr. S asked us to take you, and we wanted to say no, but her husband just died, and she could barely think then, do you really think we could have refused?”

    In the short run this was hugely detrimental to my productivity. In the years after I left, getting awards for my work makes me extra gleeful because it’s like I’m giving them a Giant Middle Finger, but that’s not really healthy either, is it?

  14. Honor thy mother & father or you will burn in hell. No joke.

    • Right — I’d add “conservative Christian parents” to Ramit’s list. And I say that as a somewhat-conservative Christian and recovering fundamentalist.

  15. When I was a (not especially) rebellious teenager, my father used to tell me, “See what you did? You made your mother cry.” I felt bad about this until I realized that watching The Waltons on TV made her weep pretty copiously, too.

    He also used to tell me that I was making life so miserable that he was going to get a divorce and it would be my fault. My perception was that he was trying to raise a 1930s or ’50s style kid in the ’60s and 70s: not only was it impossible to conform to these standards, and not only did I not understand what was being demanded of me, but the way I was sent into the world guaranteed I was subjected to harassment and bullying. I was blamed for situations over which I had no control and was made a scapegoat in a toxically repressive emotional environment. It drove me closer to suicidal ideations than it did inspire me to proving the haters wrong: I just had no realistic hope of ever being happy, so I figured I should probably just cut my losses instead of striving and suffering in misery and getting older. Most days, I’m glad I didn’t kill myself and die young, but not always.

    • Dear J,

      Oh my, that was quite extreme of the people surrounding you back then. I have not experienced such a thing before, but I feel bad that you went through all that. You just need to believe that you are special and that you deserve to be treated with respect instead of being degraded for mistakes that you did not commit.

      Also, you may want to choose the type of people that you want to spend most of your time with as you will become like them in the future.

      That’s all that I could think of at the moment. Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year, good health and peace of mind. Take care.

      From,
      Shashi.

    • Hi J,

      Your description sounds remarkably similar to what I have had to go through with my folks. They are master manipulators and even now I have trouble distinguishing whether they are being genuine or trying to play me with guilt and emotional manipulation. Sometimes I wonder if they’ve ever had a genuine conversation with me my whole life. With my Dad there’s ALWAYS an ulterior motive for talking. At first I used to fall for the tricks and pour my heart out, only to discover that it was his ploy to learn what I was really thinking and feeling, while hiding his own opinions or emotions on the matter. Then later he would use what he learned against me in a carefully and craftily formatted argument that always seemed to turn the blame around on me so I was somehow the culprit and to blame. No matter what happens, it always seems to be my fault. Anytime he is stressed out about anything, or anything happens, it becomes my fault. Funny thing is, my sister doesn’t get this kind of behavior or treatment, only me.

      It sucks, I agree. I know how you feel. It’s emotional torture and it’s unbearable. I don’t know if there’s anything more left to do but just go on “radio silence” and try to distance myself as much as possible from them.

      I think your perception was right. They have a very narrow and specific view of what kind of child they want, how they want him to behave, etc. And if he doesn’t conform to that, then he’s “bad”, “wrong” etc. Also, they never tell you what their expectations are, somehow expecting you to read their minds, and if you fail (which of course you will), then they start their guilt trips and emotional blackmail patterns. And it seems like they have ratcheted up the intensity of these as I grew older. It’s really unbearable. When you try to approach a situation with love, knowing that these are your aging parents and you want to do the right thing and be a good son, and then they use the situation to their own advantage and manipulate things and try to make you feel guilty and lay the blame on you etc. etc. it just leaves a very very bitter taste in your mouth.

      As for me, I lose my confidence, it’s like everything in my emotional world falls apart, I don’t know what’s the point of living anymore. I feel depressed, extremely sad, hopeless, despondent. Life becomes very bleak, I lose my joy and happiness. I don’t smile or laugh anymore. I feel dejected, and all alone in the world. It’s really horrible.

      neel

  16. Hey Ramit,

    Here is my life threatening guilt trip.

    So essentially, I am a senior in college and moved into a ten person house (6 women, 4 guys, 3 dogs) six months after everyone else. I knew nothing about the housemates and it was essentially blind but I really needed a new house. This worked out because most members are awesome and we get along famously.

    However, apparently my actual roomate has crazy-scary rage issues that no one chose to mention to me. He also keeps a child’s aluminium baseball bat behind our door which I guarantee, is not intended for sports. Also, after seeing him ‘shake’ with rage about the hall light being left on, I know I should be scared.

    The real guilt however, comes from the fact that he is ‘in love’ with my upstairs housemate (I also did not know this). So naturally, when we walked in the kitchen as we were hooking up the second weekend I arrived, he was not amused. But; original phrase was, “we’re all adults here.”

    Since then however, after being ignored for two days, any encounter has been this horrible passive aggressive stand off of short speech and rude double meanings below childish aggression. He has also moved on to calling my housemate a whore and constantly tells us how ‘we keep him up all night’.

    It would be cute, but he absolutely scares me. He always has that cold and sharp look in his eyes like he’s capable of doing it. He has no friends and talks to his teachers at community college about his issues with us. Its becoming more and more like my psychology textbooks. I’ve been sleeping with a knife under my pillow for over a month.

    Anyways, If anybody hears about a California University student being beaten to death in his sleep with an ‘Easton’ aluminum baseball bat; you heard it here first.

  17. Wow, all these mom stories are just scary ! Thankfully, my mom stopped the guilt trips cycle because she suffered from it herself.
    On the other hand, my grandma (on my father’s side) who is a muslim couldn’t guilt trip my father into believing in god, so she tried my elder brother and it worked. I don’t really think he believes in god but he does observe ramadan in so called “respect for our grandparents”. I have a hard time understanding how this works. I show respect to my grandparents by… respecting my grandparents.

  18. Just this weekend my mom told me she was making plans to move to FL because she wasn’t involved enough in my wedding planning and I was “depriving her of her only chance to plan her daughter’s wedding.” Later that day she sent me flight reservations for a trip to Florida and asked me to take care of her cat –she means business.

    • I should add that my wedding isn’t for another 10 months, and not much planning is going on now since I’m in the middle of a semester at law school. And yes, I have a Jewish mother.

  19. ‘You haven’t earned us, you haven’t earned being a parent. We don’t matter enough to you for you to wake up or meet our needs’.

    Something my partner told me when I didn’t wake up every time our son cried at night. I have always been a heavy sleeper, have issues with being timely. At the same time I was diagnosed with Adult ADD and was finishing nursing school. We were in couples therapy. I want to own my actions and take responsibility. I don’t understand what earning family means in this capacity.

  20. Mom: “We didn’t come all the way from Indonesia for (you to get) a six (on that test).
    My mom only said it once.
    Biggest guilt trip, EVARRRR!
    Been (trying) to ace everything since then.

  21. My grandma had a pretty great guilt trip recently–she said, “I’m getting old now, so I’m just holding on so that I can hold a great-grandchild in my arms,” while looking pointedly at me, since I am the only married grandchild she has right now.

  22. My parents were really encouraging me… but I have sister and brothers that was not.
    They were telling me I was adopted as a joke but telling it so often that I was sure i twas true(which I believe to be true until age 38). So I was feeling guilty to be love by those parents and to be part of this family.
    My sister told me when I was talking of my project of becoming a professional artist at age 40 : Do you think you will be better than the other and succeed that easy ? You will fail and do like the other one she was knowing who suicide because she did not succeed.
    When I decided to leave for Switzerland for a work exchange at 46, they all cheated in my balck that I was not a good mother for my 17 years old daughter, while my daugther wanted me to go as I was proving her that dreams do come true.
    So I develop to make myself feel guilty and sabotage myself. And I was going to say Excuse my English, maybe the words are not the good ones because I’m a French speaker… instead of being proud to be able to speak a second language. Forget the excuses… I know you will be able to understand why I’m saying.

    • You are one of those awesome bilingual chicks, aren’t you?

      I am very impressed with anyone who learns English as a second language. English is hell of hard to learn. Most native English speakers aren’t very good at it really.

  23. My mother -in-law gave me a book called “Children’s letters to God” saying, “I was waiting until you got pregnant to give this to you…but I don’t know when that will ever be…”

  24. When I was young my mum crashed the car (minor accident). Apparently this was my fault because it was my dentist appointment we were on the way to.

    I’ve got to hear many stories over the years from my mum about how they had to “scrimp and save” so that they could give me a decent upbringing.

    Now an adult in my mid-30s, when I decided to contradict my mum at Christmas over the amount of housework I had been doing (apparently I am super-lazy), I was reminded how ungrateful a daughter I am, and how my mum wished she hadn’t had anyone over for Christmas at all.

    I think ‘ungrateful’ is considered the worst accusation anyone can make in my household, and is probably the reason that as an adult I am always loathe to ever ask anyone for anything, especially help.

  25. I was working a position that I was told was absolutely a temp-to-perm situation. Being my first time temping, I had no idea that the state in which I was working held “at will” employment laws and that temp-to-perm was in no way a promise of full time employment. My parents didn’t know any of this either, so when the position abruptly ended because it was actually only a temp position, it was like I had been fired from my first job. I was grilled with questions about what I could have done wrong, why I didn’t do more to make myself “indispensable” and so on.

    Well, a few weeks later, it was my birthday and my mom came to stay with me and take me out for the day because she felt so badly that I didn’t have a job to go to, despite the fact that I was just hired for another temp position that would be starting the following day. The entire day was filled with little comments about how glad she was to be with me on my birthday but she would be happier if I was working, or how she just hopes that I am in a permanent job by my next birthday, or how she hopes this is the year I get my life together, and so on. It got to the point that I just started sobbing over lunch because I was already upset over the job not working out to be the position I was promised it would be (bad temp agency) and the guilt of feeling that I was letting my mom down in everything from work, to my relationship, to my apartment and its location, to my appearance and everything else was just too much. Rather than get the hint, she just kept going until I said something along the lines of how I had wished we had spent a good day together and she had made me feel better about everything rather than just beat me down to which she responded something like “don’t make me feel guilty for caring about you and your well being! I only want the best for you!”– even my trying to stand up for myself turned into more guilt! Only a Jewish Mother…..

    • Dear Lauren,

      It was good that you stood up for yourself. Perhaps it would be better that you avoid such conversations as they will only make you feel bad about yourself over time. She may be your mum, but she should treat you in that manner.

      Your comeback was really good, but it may not work with your mum as she will then go on the offensive instead of being open to criticism.

      Take care and have a good week ahead.

      From,
      Shashi.

  26. When I told my parents that “Yes, I really like this boyfriend and I think there could definitely be a future together…”
    Mom: “but he’s in the military, that means you won’t be living here in town anymore.”
    Me: “that’s true…, but I probably wasn’t going to live here forever anyway. ”
    Mom: “so he won’t stay here and start a successful business, and you won’t homeschool the kids, and I won’t get to see any grandchildren everyday?”
    Me: “um.. I guess you had that in mind, huh?”
    Mom: *bursts out crying*
    Me: “what??? What’s wrong? What did I do, I thought you’d be happy I found someone to love?!”
    Mom: “I’m mourning the life i thought i would have”

    Oy, that was the absolute WORST.

  27. That’s easy – GLOBAL WARMING!!!

  28. When I was a child, my dad, who ran his own service business and worked a 6 day, 12-hour per day workweek, had a heart condition, and died when I was a teen (no shocker there). When he was alive, I was not allowed to ever bring any problems or discuss anything with him. Only my mother was allowed to air grievances or be unhappy in any way or discuss anything with him – according to my mother. She would punish me with ‘you’ll give him a heart attack! He’s already terribly ill and can’t deal with your problems’ if I ever said anything negative or looked unhappy or shared any problems in any way.

  29. I’ve never really let other people make me feel guilty. If I felt guilty it was because I knew that I wasn’t being the person I wanted to be.

    The worst I’ve felt lately was during a 5-day work binge on my day job, side business and grad school, my dog was getting neglected.

    I was working on my laptop on the couch, when he brought a toy over and set it down right on my keyboard and just stared at me with his puppy eyes. Needless to say, I took a 30-minute break from work to play.

  30. After I found my wife cheating on me for the second time, she decided she was done and left the marriage. I actually guilt tripped her in to getting everything I wanted out of the divorce, the house, the car, you name it! Even more importantly, I got primary care of my daughter! I felt slightly guilty using this as a negotiation tactic but when I got her attorney to side with me, I just signed the dotted line.

  31. My dad is generally a strong and silent type, though he has been known to cut a rug at a party. One day he brought home spaghetti from an aunt who had made food “just for us”, his 5 kids.

    The spaghetti was nasty. It had green beans in it, to give you an idea.

    So I made my mom’s recipe for spaghetti, which was freakin’ delicious. My dad came home and saw us eating it and asked, “Why are you wasting my money when someone has already fed you?” Foolishly, I said, “Dad… that other spaghetti doesn’t taste good.”

    “I ATE GRASS!!!” He yelled, and went to his room. My mom then called and explained to me that Dad had FOUGHT IN A WAR before coming to America at age 17, and there weren’t enough rations, so soldiers would eat grass to stay alive. Ever so gently, she said, “It’s good that you’re being so wasteful, because if you had experienced that kind of struggle, you would be grateful for every scrap you receive.”

    After that, we ate all the leftovers that came our way without (audible) complaints.

  32. My dad cries when I leave his and mom’s place to drive back home (3.5 hours away) after each visit.

    Ugh.

  33. In high school, I brought home a Human Anatomy and Physiology test I made a 98 on. It was a very difficult class. I had worked incredibly hard for that grade and was well pleased with myself. I skipped up to my dad to get his approval. He looked down at my grade and scoffed. “What happened to the other two points?” he said. I felt like all my hard work held no significance for anything.

    I’m not an unintelligent person, but it took me years to realize that and not beat myself up about how idiotic I thought I was.

    • Suzie, are your parents asian? That seems to be a very popular response among asian parents. My Mom loved pulling that line out.

    • I used to get that all the time: “Why didn’t you get 100?”. Or when I had a 3.75 GPA (all As except one B): “why isn’t it a 4.0?”. Except instead of working harder it just made me do enough to get by, because clearly the extra effort still wasn’t good enough, so why bother.

  34. I told a secret of the love of my life to her family because I was tired of her caring the burden all her life at 52 years of age. Now I don’t have her anymore. I did it because I loved her, and felt her siblings should know her pain and if they really loved her they would wrap their arms around her. They have not, they are in denial, just selfish.

  35. One day, when I was 17, I received in the mail my first (and last) prom dress that I had special ordered. It was a beautiful ivory and gold, with a fitted corset like halter top while the bodice snugly contoured over the hips and waist. It was perfect. I had spent weeks looking for the perfect dress, this dress, and was ecstatic when it arrived in the mail. I couldn’t contain myself while trying it on, I just knew I was going to look amazing. It fit perfectly…or at least it seemed to until I realized I wasn’t quite able to zip it up fully. I rushed to my mom and asked her to help me unstuck the zipper or fix whatever the problem was. But…she was unable to fix it. The zipper wouldn’t zip past my bust line. My boobs were too big for the dress!

    I was instantly disappointed, embarrassed and ashamed all at once. I had the perfect dress, but it couldn’t fit over my stupid boobs. My mom told me I needed to lose weight in order to fit in the dress. It stung a little, but I tried not to take it too personal. I figured I would just try to eat less junk food or something and see if it would shrink my top side at all.

    The next morning, I woke up and began my day anew. I went downstairs to get breakfast, a nice white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie. I started eating it and walked into the living room, where my mom was. She looked at me with a scowl of disgust and told me again that I needed to lose weight. I put the cookie down, ran upstairs and cried for the rest of the day.

  36. 1. When my mother found out I had a secret boyfriend and was no longer a virgin she made me sit in the car with her in an empty parking lot late at night for an hour while she lamented that I was an unscrupulous whore who no one would ever marry now.

    2. When I decided to leave law school after a year because it bored me and I wanted to start my own freelance fashion styling business. There’s no one particular incident of guilt. It’s really just a lifestyle of guilt (I left the program in April, 2012). I thought surely after a year she would let it go, but no the guilt lives on. Didn’t make enough to travel to Europe this year? Apparently if I had gone to law school that wouldn’t be a problem. Landlords raise the rent again? If I were a lawyer that wouldn’t bother me because I’d own a home. Stepped in dog shit? Surely that was connected to dropping out of law school as well.

    p.s. My parents are white (Canadians). Shocker, I know.

  37. I have a pretty low tolerance for being guilt tripped by other people.

    In fact, I think the worst story I have is when I asked for salt & pepper to put on my food, and the person who cooked it apologised for ‘not seasoning it enough’.

    Which honestly if you were ranking guilt trips from 1 to 100, that would be like… minus 10.

    I’m pretty good at guilt tripping myself though.

  38. One night I called my mom
    Me: “Hi Mum, how are you? How are things?”
    Mom: “HI! Who told you I died?”
    Me: “What? Nobody said you were dead!”
    Mom: “You must have thought I was dead, because you haven’t called in months!”
    We had a laugh and since then I try to call at least once a month.

  39. The guilt laid upon me for not pursuing the typical studies expected by traditional Asian parents. By that, I’m referring to engineer or doctor; not much else beyond that. It was intimated that I was wasting my time, not to mention their money, by pursuing any other studies.

  40. As the first person in my family to complete college, I wanted to become a teacher. My dad asked me, “Why do you want to be a teacher? You’ll never make any damn money doing that!” For over forty years now, I have worked in schools while remembering that criticism. The greatest guilt is that he was correct.

  41. I can think of several, but the two ‘best’:

    1. I decided to move out of my parents’ house a few days after I turned 18. This was not well-received by my family but it was the best decision I’ve ever made. In my 18th birthday card from my grandma, she wrote that my grandpa (who had died the previous year and was my most supportive and favorite relative) would be rolling in his grave and would have said “don’t do dumb things”. Then she said she wouldn’t be giving me a gift because she couldn’t support my “dumb things”

    2. Growing up I had a wonderful stepfather who really stepped up when my biological father failed to be a father-figure. Whenever I would get in trouble as a kid my mother would tell me that I should be ashamed of myself for causing trouble when my stepfather was so nice to take care of me and put a roof over my head even though he wasn’t biologically or legally required to do so. My stepfather never treated me as anything but his child but my mom would never let me forget that I wasn’t.

  42. I have the winner: My mother made me turn down a fully-funded Ivy masters degree, because it would mess up her divorce — the one which she never got, 6 years later.

  43. Sorry have to go semi-anonymous for this one. I have a sister-in-law whose depressive, deadbeat husband told her “if you ever leave me, I’ll shoot myself and it will be your fault”. Ouch. He owns and carries a gun, and he’s been treated for depression. So not an idle threat.

  44. Worst guilt trip was from my ex. I was a stay-at-home homeschooling mom creating gardens and implementing the “Five Year Plan” for self-sufficiency I created for us. Each time I would mention something that would put me back in a classroom to finish my degree, he would tell me how selfish to take time away from the kids. He spent from 25%-50% of his time on the road. He knew that I hold generosity and family close, so any way to use this to allow for the growth of his career was used. A book by George K. Simon called Character Disturbance helped me to identify and prepare for guilt trips, making himself the victim (which can be an aggressive move) and other techniques. Now I try to identify the cause/reason of the other person to try guilt tripping, then addressing these emotions. It’s especially helpful in interactions with my mom, and has brought us closer in identifying our feelings. As for the ex… that’s a story for another post, another blog.

  45. Apparently I was solely responsible for my mother’s sprained ankle. How, you wonder?

    One fine evening, while I was drowning in the mysteries of differential calculus… my mom who was shopping 5 miles away, walked into a store, tripped over some stones & sprained her ankle.

    See the connection?

    No?

    My mom was thinking of how much homework I had to get done. To make it better for me, she decided to make me something special. Which is why she walked into *that* particular store which had some construction debris on the side.

    As she braved through the debris, lost in thoughts of me, she tripped and fell and sprained her ankle.

    Which squarely made it my fault because I was always on her mind.

    :-)

    As an aside though, whenever I look back the guilt-trips my parents so dotingly served everyday – i laugh heartily.

    But for anyone else who guilt-tricked me into doing all the work while all they offered was unkind disdain – for them i carry resentment.

  46. I honestly think that the best guilt trip that I have ever had was inside my own mind. My grandparents are all pharmacists, my uncle is a pharmacist, all my aunts and uncles worked in their parent’s pharmacy growing up, and I started doing the same when I was about 12. After high school I went to pharmacy school and hated it. I slogged along just barely trying and definitely not enjoying myself (as if anyone could enjoy Organic Chemistry). I even did so poorly that I had to repeat a year even while thinking that it wasnt for me, just doing it because I didnt want to disappoint anybody. Finally I had it, I was going to switch schools and start fresh going for a degree in Molecular Biology at the end of the semester. I decided to finally discuss the pressure about having to deal with pursuing a degree that I didnt want with my parents and a trusted aunt. Shockling during the conversation they revealed that they didnt care what I did, all the hopes and dreams of keeping up the family legacy that I though were being heaped on were all in my head. All my family wanted me to do was be happy with whatever I did, well that and hopefully stay out of jail. After that conversation it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, I went back and found that without that added pressure and the internally generated obligations I actually enjoyed what I did. Now 7 years later I have a job running a pharmacy that I enjoy, I have the fat paycheck that I could not have gotten if I had switched majors, and my family respects the fact that I enjoy what I do, no matter what. While it is easy to laugh about now, this self inflicted guilt trip nearly derailed my professional plans and aspirations and kept me from the job that I enjoy.

  47. My guilt-trips certainly came in the form of verbal slaughterings, but the one I will remember the most was in the form of transportation gifts.

    My younger brother was a triathlete, prized above all else by our mother. I was an “artist.” When I was 17, my parents bought me a $1200 car. Which was awesome, until I learned that they purchased a $2,000 bicycle for him. It was a total slap in the face – you can have your freedom & choose your life, but choosing the life mom wants for you is worth more.

    • To the contrary, I think it would have been more guilt-trippy if they had given you both bicycles. As it is, it sounds like your parents respected that you had a different set of aspirations and gave you a gift you benefited from a lot more than you would have benefited from a $2,000 bicycle. Also, buying a 17-year-old any car strikes me as exceptionally generous.

  48. Ramit guilt tripping about not renewing my Brain Trust membership. Come on man, I made a financial decision, where’s my sliver of respect for that?

    • So don’t join — no harm. Enjoy my free material and when you’re ready, I’m confident you’ll be back in another premium program. Unless of course, I die prematurely and never get the chance to show you how great your life could have been.

    • lol. Ramit, you’re hilarious!

  49. Grew up in a very punjabi family! Loved it…but even today we siblings sit and laugh when we think about the times when we would want to buy something even if it was $5.00 and our dad would tell us the story of how he used to save the bus money by walking …even if it was freezing outside! – I’m from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – so winters are quite harsh!

    Also, the reminders of “When i came to this country…I had $2.00 in my pocket! Today you guys need cars, cell phones, Ipads etc. and you can’t live without those things! Imagine how it was when I came here!”

    …making us feel guilty about our “extravagant purchases”…but this also taught us lessons in $ management, they taught us how to use our credit cards wisely …they always paid them off in full every month and they also taught us the value of saving money where it needs to be saved and spent on where it needs to be spent – SPEND ON EDUCATION – so…here i am …learning from Ramit! :)

  50. My parents left on vacation for the winter. Two weeks after they returned from their 3 month vacation my 6 year old got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (the kind where your pancreas is mistakenly attacked by your immune system and destroyed and there is no cure not the type which you bring upon yourself with horrific eating habits and obesity).
    I’m in the hospital, it’s day 2 of watching my baby girl cry with the onslaught of injections and failed IV attempts. I’ve been sleeping(more like lying awake) on the edge of her bed with her because she is frightened of the bad doctors coming back and jabbing her with needles again. I’m trying not to think about the years ahead, how it will affect her life, how in a few days we’ll be home and I will be the one sticking needles into her bruised arms. My mom comes to visit and the first words out of her mouth to my daughter are” My poor darling, if I had been here this would never have happened to you. I knew I shouldn’t have left you.” Then she turns and tells me, in front of my daughter, that it’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have taken her to Bali and Australia last year, that it was too much traveling for a child and the stress of it made her sick. Apparently, my daughter got an auto immune disease because I’m a horrible mother and I take her on trips with me instead of leaving her in the care of grandma.
    Yeah, that’s all I needed, for my baby to think it’s mommy’s fault she’s getting injections every couple hours.
    Thanks mom.

    • Dear Nia,

      It’s not your fault, you had done what you thought was necessary, and even stayed with your child in the hospital to keep her comfortable. Your mother seems to be quite oblivious to all your efforts, so it stings hearing her say that about you.

      You are a good mum and I salute you. Just ignore the comments that you know are not true. Take care and have a great week ahead!

      From,
      Shashi.

  51. It has to be my mother, the guilt trip queen. She started telling me when I was eight or nine that having a baby (me) ruined her life, and never stopped reminding me that everything that went badly in her life was my fault. Then she completely flipped when some time in my early teens I finally asked why on earth she had me if it was such a pain, and said that she was the one who chose to have a child and I didn’t choose to be born, and would she please stop telling nonsense…

    She went back to university to do a Master’s degree in her 50ies, and every time she came to stay at my place she insisted i should type (and improve) her coursework. Oh, and do much of communication with her student services for her, to go photocopy or post whatever she needed at moment’s notice (the nearest photocopier and the post office were half an hour away), and so on… Whenever I refused she would go into a fit of repeating “you are so ungrateful, how many times I did something for you while you were at school…” She never got that degree. Want to guess how many times she actually helped me with anything to do with school? Exactly 4 times, all before I was 12. The reason I remember is precisely that it was so rare.

    Once I was frank about how I hate her gult-tripping other people (that time it was about somebody else in the family, not me), she started screaming and claimed she had a near- heart attack. Ten years later she insists that every time she has some heart problems (even though she is overweight, eats bad food and doesn’t exercise, and has quite a healthy heart considering…) it is because of what I told her at that time.

    And so on.
    I’ve actually refused help from her on some occassions that she offered, because I don’t feel like her using that as guilt-tripping material till the day one of us dies.

  52. My soon-to-be ex-husband’s father telling him on his deathbed that he wanted my ex to have children – despite my being clear about never intending to have children. Didn’t cause our divorce, but didn’t help. Also his mom offering to pay off his credit cards if we split up is an interesting twist, I think, no?

  53. Asian mom with cancer asking me to go to med school.. for her.

  54. Ramit,

    You often refer to the way asian parents raise their kids. Now, you are saying that it is asians, indians, jews, any ethnic background.

    I find it puzzling. It is about anyone not white? Is there something with the way white people raise (or non-immigrant?) their kids?

    (What you refer to might be unclear to me due to differing cultural backgrounds (I am a native french speaker living in Québec City…))

    • Michel, whites do it too, (I have Catholic family background, and Catholics love guilt) but the anglo white culture is more laissez faire and liberal, generally speaking and has a more subtle way of guilt tripping. In fact, no one would admit it to be part of the culture per se like other cultures like Indian, but… it is still there.

    • Interesting point, Stacey.

  55. My mom is a floral designer and horticulturalist. She bought a beautiful antique posey holder for me for my wedding arrangement WHEN I WAS SIXTEEN! I had no boyfriend but she said when it happened she would be prepared. She brings it up every now and again or looks forlorn and says, I really need to become a grandmother soon. The nagging about it actually made me really not a wedding (oh and also doing flowers for crazy brides on their wedding day helped, I never ever want to act like that over a party!).

    When I got the job in DC at the Smithsonian she brought up the posey holder again and said maybe now you’ll get a man. When she came and visited the first thing I showed her were the 200 posey holders on exhibit outside my office and said “See mom, without all your prompting, I would have no appreciation for this exhibit and that the original purpose of these was to cover up the smell of rotting garbage and open sewer on the streets!).

  56. “If you don’t cook your sisters dinner, I won’t have time to get my medication, and I’ll die,” said Mom to her young daughter, before going out for the night.

    Could you, like, not give a presentation on guilt? Somehow I predict the advice will be “guilt OTHER people into doing stuff for YOU,” which is downright repulsive. To me, at least.

  57. Every time I call my Grandmother she gives me guilt about not calling more often and tells me about how often my brother calls her. The last time I called and she criticized me for not calling sooner. I reminded her that the phone works both ways and if she wants to talk to me she only has to pick up the phone and call me. “Oh no,” she said, “I can’t do that. You have to call me.”

    A few years ago she tried to guilt my younger brother about his bohemian lifestyle and not settling down to give her great-grandchildren. He looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “Don’t worry, I’m sure you have great-grandchildren somewhere out there. I don’t always use a condom.”

    • Haha Jane I feel you. My family says raw stuff about me and my brother if we don’t go visit my grandma as much as they think we should…mmmm maybe if you all would stop trash talking us you would see us more!!

  58. I was delayed one time in sending the monthly contribution to my dad. ( Background: we are an Indian couple, supporting my parents, with my husband’s salary. We sent money to his mom too for a long time but currently dont.) Dad had to remind me over the phone to do it. And I was very apologetic I had forgotten and angry that he waited for _my_ call to remind me. And he goes – ” I would never have approved you marrying this guy so far away in the US on some bizarre visa( H1!) which does not allow you to work (H4) .. you were better off here”. This was by far the nastiest ever, given that (1) I had worked for the longest time in India and was happy to get some time off for myself finally (2) I had waited for a l-o-n-g time to meet my kinda guy to tie the knot.

  59. Ramit – it’s awesome that you’re offering this class for free! I’m really looking forward to it.

    I’m an elder law attorney, and I’ve struggled with responding to my friends and family member when they have questions about their estate and long-term care planning. Often, a question might start out “What do you think about XYZ,” but moves into “Hey, you can do that for free, right?” When I’ve responded “my firm will gladly help, we’ll work with you on the rate,” I feel guilty that I’ve wronged those I care about. At the same time, I can’t spend hours working on these matters for free when I would be taking time away from paying clients – if I do, I end up feeling guilty for undervaluing my professional services.

    • Try just starting off with, “Where do I send the bill, then I’ll give you my opinion.” It might get them off the topic quicker. People know you’re an expert and so they just try to get stuff for free. I’d say, don’t give it for free unless you start the conversation. That’s my general policy. If I start the conversation, then I give whatever info I want, but if they start the conversation, then they can pay.

  60. My parents have fights all the time, we’re talking about every other day. They would each call me and guilt me into siding with them. They would even fight when I brought my long term girlfriend to visit for the holidays. Needless to say this created a very toxic atmosphere. One day I had enough and I told them off and stopped answering their calls.

    A couple of months later my mom just randomly showed up at my condo unannounced and wanted to stay there indefinitely. I had a huge fight with her and the entire time she was guilting me into thinking I’m wrong. She attributed everything I’ve accomplished in life to her paying for my college tuition. She literally said that she paid for my condo because she paid my tuition. Things escalated and I actually called the police to get her out of my condo.

    I pretty much stopped all communication with my family since. For the longest time I really felt guilty for everything. After all who the hell calls the cops to kick out his own mother? After many years of reflecting I realized that they were extremely toxic to my life and I’m better off without them. Is it the morally correct things to do? I have no idea. But, I definitely feel better as a person and I’m more confident with myself.

    • Leo, I’ve heard worse, than calling the police. With my experiences at this point in time, I would mend the bridges with my parents. I would do it for me, not for them. When they are gone this decision may haunt you, in a way that you never dreamt. I would keep some distance though. I would not excuse their toxic behavior, but I would try some kind of reconciliation; it is hard work, I am sure. The passing of our parents, brings a huge mix of emotions and if you can minimize the grief for your sake, why not do it? And this is me talking when I know today so much more than yesterday. And if I would have known yesterday what I know today, I would be so much happier.

    • That sucks. I think you did the right thing, but it’s not easy. Realizing your family is psychotic and the best thing you can do is put miles between you and them is never fun…

  61. How about feeling guilty about an ex-significant other? Feeling about a failure in – as Apostle Paul writes – the “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” department?

  62. About mid way through my senior year of high school I announced to my mom that I was going to take a year off before I went to college. She proceeded to yell at me for over an hour and say things like “well you were a waste of 18 years” and “now you will have to live off the government because your such a lazy [bad word]” I still haven’t gone to college. I think I just really really want to prove that I can be successful with out a degree.

  63. I have become IMPERVIOUS to all forms of guilt trip, since I grew up surrounded by master manipulators. Example (and Ryan Stephens will feel me here): I was out with a friend at Hard Rock, had just ordered my burger, phone rings – Mother: Mae from the chinese restaurant called and wants you to go in for a shift, now. Me: [fill in your own version of what a reasonable person would say - e.g. the shift wasn't planned, I've just ordered food, I'm at least 30mins away, even if I left now]. Mother:guilt trip about how Mae is on her own and need someone to go in, I should go, it’s my responsibility [errrm, not when I'm not rostered on??]!

    So what does she do???

    SHE GOES INTO WORK FOR ME.

    [She is not, nor has ever been a waitress, in fact, she hadn't worked for 10 years - she retired when we moved to Australia].

    The thing is – she continues to bring this up (especially every time I bring a new guy home) and tells them, “…. [insert some story about how I'm lazy or unreliable I am (which I'm not btw) then follows with] yes, everyone, remember that time I had to go into work for Camilla” [cue laughter from entire family].

    I look at my plate, stab my peas and imagine it is their hearts.

    So like I said, I’m impervious to guilt trips – even when they’re followed up with action and lifelong ridicule. It’s like a muscle, the more it’s tested, the stronger I become! ha!

    • You complete me

      And your mom is amazing. That is next-level guilt tripping.

    • Wow, you seem like a grade A badass!

    • OH – and I just remembered another gem: I got a half scholarship to a private university here in Australia, worth about 50K. I told my mum and she said, ‘well, where are you going to get the other 50 thousand from?’

      Overwhelmed by this display of pride and support, I decided to move cities and go to a university an hour away – which although relatively close, to me seemed like relocating to the blissful solitude of the moon.

      When I told her I was moving out and going to uni in a city an hour away – studying law and international business (you would have at least thought she’d have been excited that I’d moved up from waitressing part time at a Chinese restaurant to making it in the top 3% of students in Australia, right?).

      Nah. She started screaming and yelling (and I think there were some tears in there too) about how I’d ‘happily throw money at other people for rent’ (as if I was spending money on prostitutes or something – I don’t know how, but she had a way of making me paying rent to someone else seem dirty).

      She told me to get out – slammed the door and didn’t speak to me or see me for 6 months. Since she is sort of the gatekeeper to the family, I didn’t see or speak to any of them for that period too.

      After that, do you think I’m worried about a little ridicule over a pot roast? BRING IT ON.

  64. “I implore you, to back-burner your need for self-expression and to turn yourself back to your sacred commitment to your marriage and family.” Written in a letter from my mother, in the chaos of realizing I was gay at the age of 36. (I came out anyway, but that sentence was a real doozy.)

    • Your mother is a modern day poet.

      A little misguided, sure. But a poet none the less.

      When people put that much effort into what they’re saying, it almost makes you want to think about maybe, someday, potentially trying to kiss a boy. Or maybe it’s just me.

      hehee!

  65. Asian parents are not the only ones capable of terror-inducing guilt trips. I got a bit of a double whammy though because I was not only the only girl but I was also the youngest – “the baby” as it were. To top that off, my half-brothers’ mother had died when they were very young and everyone let them get away with murder because they felt sorry for them. My dad remarried my mom and they had me – her only child. To say I was sheltered doesn’t begin to do justice to the concept.
    By the time I reached high school I knew enough not to date, at least not so my parents would ever know about it. This was confirmed one November day when, home from the Christian boarding school I was attending, the phone rang. My dad answered and called me to take the call. After hanging up half an hour or so later, my father began lecturing me about: boys (and men) in general, especially how they can’t be trusted, dating, interracial relationships (the friend who had called was an African-American male) and perhaps most disturbing of all, the trials and tribulations of having and raising “mixed” children. To make matters worse, he wasn’t even my boyfriend! We worked in the cafeteria together and he had a girlfriend; he was just bored and wanted to talk. My father would have none of it. The more I tried to explain, the worse it got. He lectured me on all of this FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF!!! Is it any wonder that I refused to bring boys home to meet my parents? Many years later, when I was actually living with a boyfriend I still stressed over putting them in the same room with my parents!

  66. On his deathbed, my dad gave me the highest guilt possible.

    He was just in his last days of lucidity, suffering from a rare disease called Creutsfeldz-Jakob’s. It had become very difficult to take care of him in their home. The home (my mom and dad) was not wheelchair-ready and it was a lifting situation with him many times per day. Mom and I could not do it anymore and there had been many accidents in the past month over his quick demise.

    He was stubborn and angry. He didn’t want to fly to Vancouver, he didn’t want to do anything but spend his final days in his favorite chair at home (he had lost all physical control and was in a wheelchair, so it was not feasible in any way). He finally agreed to go to the hospitals etc, but we had to promise him he would return to his favorite spot at home. We did.

    After the trip, it was time to return to our small town. Dad did not come home; we took him to stay at the local hospital. He had the best care there (he was a local doctor and the whole community was rallied) and it’s where he neede to be. But he was livid.

    I tried to tell him “Dad, we wanted to do what was right”. He grabbed my hands and looked at me with fire eyes. He pulled my hands onto his heart. “This is what is RIGHT” he stammered with tears and rage. He did that because he knew I understood. We were soul mates and I knew what he wanted, how terrified and angry he was…. he let his rage out onto me in that moment.

    I understood.

    Sometimes guilt is unavoidable, and natural.

  67. I don’t know if it’s the “best”, but one our most heinous. My husband had just come home from visiting with his dad and thought they’d had a great visit. Had a nice time together, really connected, doing something they both enjoyed. A couple days later, he heard through the family grapevine that his dad thought he hated him because he never called after their visit.

  68. Even though I don’t believe in the faith I grew up in, I still had a religious marriage because I didn’t want to disappoint my family and I couldn’t take the overwhelming guilt that would come if I let them down. Now I feel regretful that I didn’t get married the way I wanted to.

    Also I pursued a degree in international relations instead of art because of family expectations. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my education, I regret not following my passions. Totally going to go back and pursue it now part time.

    I’m a lot better now though. I’ve learned to get over the family and social expectations for the most part… Kind of. Ok fine not all the way but I feel less guilt overall.

    My most basic explanation for this behavior: Asian and the oldest girl.

  69. I gave myself the biggest 2-year guilt-trip EVERZ. LOL.

    I had just sold off some hard-assets (gold/silver/platinum) at around 40K, and I then was playing a lot of Baccarat at the casinos and soon had 220K from playing Baccarat alone in about 1 Month. So me and my Girl-friend went to go house-hunting with my new found extra cash. I had rented a swanky hotel in the city we were going to move to for a week, and low and behold there was a Casino near-by, so that night I dropped off my girlfriend at one casino and I went to go play at another casino next door. Within 3 hours I had turned that 220K into 360ishK and then proceeded to lose it ALL. Literally walked out of the casino with a $25 chip. …. BUT WAIT IT GETS WORSE… Next day we went back to same casino to at least take part in all the COMPS they were throwing at me, and I randomly won some silly promotion they were having for 18K …. and guess what I put that cash away in the cage and went to play my luck with my little $25 green chip… That $25 green chip turned into 2K, so all told a 20K night….LOST IT ALL before leaving. . . . Suffice to say we didnt end up moving into our dream house…. I really felt like scum for a long time. Took me about a good 6 months before I could even think about Casino’s even though I was being flooded with Comp offers from all over the country. GUILT CITY. The story ends on a positive note, but thats not what this post is about. So yeah, that was my most guilt inducing event of my life.

  70. After a childhood of guilt trips (a good couple samples: I was kept at home for anything other than school, and given guilt for requesting to go out with friends and without my parents presence. I once got a guilt triup by my mother for being bothered that she harassed the sh&* out of a girlfriend of mine – who broke up with me shortly thereafter), I made it out of the house at 18, to college. And to a place with a top education, but coincidentally with a top party school ranking – woot! I didn’t plan on looking back.

    In that first year I was so happy to just be able to walk outside on my own. Friends used to catch me doing that at 2-3am and thought it was weird, but understood that I was just enjoying freedom. Unfortunately, I discovered quickly that I wasn’t totally clear.

    A few weeks into freshman year, I didn’t call my parents in a 24 hour period. Oh noez!!! Yeah, I had to call them daily, but I was just glad to be able to go outside that year. I actually didn’t call because of a religious holiday – I grew up in a somewhat, but not too religious a household (that actually didn’t restrict me as much growing up), and respected my parents enough not to call that day. I still emailed them right afterward.

    I was out after the holiday, hanging out with friends, and got back late – nothing crazy for college. When I got back, I found seven messages on my answering machine. My parents called for an 8th time moments after I got back. Because I hadn’t called my parents, they called my dorm, my RA, and the police, claiming that I had been missing for 3+days. They were about to call the college dean to put my education at risk, and come into town.

    I’m sure everyone here would understand if I’d be pissed off, but I was remarkably calm, being used to these antics. My parents, predictably, followed up with a guilt trip. “How could you be so inconsiderate… You caused so much fear and stress for us… we thought there was foul play…”, yada yada. For the next few years they’d cite that event, maintaining that they were justified in calling the police for what I apparently did.

    I’m not sure how I turned out relatively normal. Oh yeah – I eventually moved to San Francisco, and suddenly just seemed normal… hmmm.

  71. My grandmother tells me that I shouldn’t be a stay at home mother because her family came to America to get degrees and use them, to become educated and wealthy, so that we can provide EVERYTHING for our families.

    My mom (my grandmother’s daughter-in-law) tells me that I need to stay at home with my three toddlers because if I don’t then this society and “bad-influence” relatives will brain-wash them and they will never love or respect me.
    Hashtag motherhood.

  72. The funniest experience I’ve had with guilt tripping was when my ex-boyfriend (guess why he’s an ex) tried to guilt trip me into baking for his mother and her guests when she was throwing a party. The conversation went something like this “are you baking anything for this weekend? oh… you’re not? well I just want you to know my brother’s girlfriend is baking x. but don’t worry, you don’t have to bake anything. it’s not a big deal. at least my brother’s girlfriend will have baked something”

    I should mention.. this was on a weekend where I was FINALLY getting time to spend with my friends. Because for a month straight his mother had planned out events for the weekend and i was guilt-tripped into participating. Trying to get me to bake was just another way to take me away from them.

  73. There was this one time on the eve of Christmas that I turned in to bed after dinner because I had a date with my significant other the following day. We always celebrated the holidays on the eve of the new year so we could cut back on expenses and focus the two holidays (Xmas and new year’s) on one celebration and I thought that this year was no different. I was tired from the rush job I had at work a couple of days ago and wanted to rest up before my date. And a bit of context: me and my mom weren’t close at all (but that story is for a different forum).

    Then in the middle of the night, my mom comes into my room and rudely wakes me up in the early hours of the morning and says we have to eat Christmas dinner together as a family and I was the only one not downstairs. Feeling tired and annoyed by the sudden interruption, I refused to get up from bed, tried to ignore her and get back to sleep. She kept pestering me to get up and guilt-tripping me by saying that “it’s rare that we do this sort of thing” and “it’s Christmas time anyway”. “You should’ve let me know ahead of time that we we’re going to have a dinner during the night. I even asked you earlier if you had plans later for Christmas,” I said. Having grown as a kid with Guilt as a primary motivator, I was used to those “attacks” and tried to not let it affect me as much as it used to. She left me and I thought she had given up.

    A few minutes later (at least, I think it was. Sleep messes with your sense of time), she got back into my room with a vengeance and a sterner voice. She knew I had a date the following day and she tried to use that against me as a final shot.

    “How great it must be to be [my partner's name] that you spend all your time with her. I mean, we’re just your family after all. How would you like it if I didn’t let you go out with her tomorrow?” she said. She said it with a certain tone of voice (kids who grew up with guilt-tripping know this) that still pierced the thick hide I grew over the years to insulate me from her words. I tried to keep still and pretended to be asleep until she went away.

    She went back to her room angry, I TRIED to go back to sleep. I just felt angry at how she treated me like a kid and used a completely unrelated event (my date) to make me feel bad about my own decisions. It mostly tainted the otherwise fun date I would have the next day (don’t worry, we ended the date on a positive note). I’ll never forget that year’s Christmas eve.

  74. My mother (when I was still a child): I never wanted to have children, it was your father who wanted a big family. And now he’s gone back to school and I’m the one looking after the three of you. I would like to go back to school too (ha!) but I’m stuck with you!

    Or: I need shoes buy I can’t afford them because I bought x w z for you.

    I have blocked out most of my mother’s guilt trips but believe me, not a day would go by without one.

  75. My ex girlfriend’s mom is paying for her college, and basically uses that as leverage for every decision that is made for her life. She is forced to live in the same crappy school run apartment and has to go home over the summers and literally work in the yard 8 hours every day and then cook dinner for her family. She rarely gets to see friends, and at ANY sign of a complaint, her mom reacts horribly and ends up keeping her in this constant money strangle since her mom pays for her college.

    If she decides to try and pay her own way through or quit school, she thinks that she would be ousted from her family. (I really would have rather her stood her ground more, but it’s easier said than done). I ended up confronting her mom about some of that stuff and while she took it well at first, things will probably never change completely.

    Worst of all, she feels unappreciative and feels like a bad daughter. She does very well at everything but she never feels like it’s enough. Lot of issues stemmed from that and it’s probably what led to the horrific events that caused us to break up. I literally did EVERYTHING I could have for somebody and it eventually destroyed me. I felt horrible and really dropped my self worth in the process of putting her above me. I ended up quitting my job and have spent the last month recovering and am on the road to be an entrepreneur. Maybe I needed that jolt to get me on the path that logic wouldn’t have gotten me on…

    I’m in The Foundation currently, and it’s the stuff I’ve learned from Dane Maxwell that has helped me feel 100% better over the past few weeks, but I REALLY would be curious to hear what you have to say on this aspect of guilt. Thanks a ton for doing this!

  76. Most guilt trips I’ve been through via my parents were fully justified. However, this last one takes the cake.

    Last year, my brother who had been studying a useless (by useless, I mean not marketable in the workforce) masters/phd decided he needed a full time job to support his (lazy) wife. This new job had to be out of the country (so his new wife could experience the world through him), be cool enough to keep his wife, and one that paid decently. Keep in mind that the only jobs he’s had involve editing and translating, albeit areas he’s very very good at.

    I spent 2 months helping him land a pretty sweet consulting gig in Tokyo for a company dedicated to social responsibility (his masters was in theology with a hint of ethics) despite ZERO background/experience in business. I did this while I myself was unemployed, broke, and trying to support my family.

    He got the job. They flew him and his wife from Europe to Tokyo just to introduce him to the company for 1 week (hotel, meals, fun stuff included of course). Between the 1-week intro to actually starting the job, this company organized his visa, paid for a second round of flights for him + wife from Europe to Tokyo, paid his first 2 months’ rent, took them on a 3 day excursion to a resort just to welcome them, published articles on his addition to the team (on the 2nd most visited site in the world). His salary wasn’t that of a high roller, but enough to get by with a bonus of 10x his monthly salary if he “does his job.”

    Come 2 months into the job, my parents start calling me like crazy saying how depressed he is about working a job that has him at the office until 10pm during the week and in on Saturdays. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD! They started guilt tripping me saying that if it weren’t for my involvement, he wouldn’t be so depressed. They were so worried and concerned about his mental health while I was working on a startup facing negative bank balances and constant pressure to get a safe desk job. They made me feel guilty about his “meager salary” just because he didn’t start off with a $250K paycheck. The economy today is different, where being the #1 sociology major from an IV league school does NOT guarantee you a high paying position. However, my parents seem to think so.

    It’s been 7 months since he started, and never once did I get a thank you. My brother is not even speaking to me anymore because it’s somehow “my fault” that he’s so depressed. Same with my parents. They constantly blame me for his “low” salary and unhappiness.

    I always believed in helping my family until now.

  77. “Milk is so expensive!” Says my mother after almost every trip to the grocery store.

    What do you expect with four teenagers?!? The guilt trip in and of itself was not particularly good, but it was one of the defining quotes that led me to taking on multiple jobs to pay for my own education entirely.

    I was tired of hearing my mom blame her financial predicament on her children. It was a bogus claim. She spent more than she made on frivolous crap (fabric, dolls, diet plans, half baked business schemes, any telemarketer that dialed our number) and tried to distract my dad from her spending by blaming the entirety of our debt on four kids. I’m not saying four kids are cheap, especially for a couple with no college education, but fight fair. Don’t blame the baby for the stork.

    I love being a professional engineer, where logic rules. Thanks mom, for teaching me to question authority.

  78. During my first year of university, a friend of mine dated a guy for 2-3 months before he became clingy, possessive and mood swing-y. Now, this guy was on the football team, and my friend was concerned that he had started taking steroids. He also had some issues with his family. She needed to break up with him and thought he would flip out if she did it in public (embarassment I guess? I don’t know) so she asked her roommate to listen through the wall and convinced me to hide under her bed (“You know how he is!”).

    Fast-forward to the breakup. She says her piece, and he responds with (and I’m paraphrasing cuz this was years ago) “Baby, you’re the only good thing in my life right now. What would I do without you? You know what I’m going through. All I have is you, and football. And if you leave me, I won’t be able to focus. Who’s gonna help me with homework? I’m gonna get kicked off the team. I’ll never go pro. And then what? If you leave me, my life is over. I might as well just kill myself.” AFTER 2 MONTHS. Sad.

    How many guilt trips can you name?

  79. Hey Ramit,

    I know all about the parental guilt trips, but I have to say, the best guilt trips I’ve encountered are hands down from my dear husband. Heres’s one: When I’m sick and can’t go to work, he tells me not to call in sick and wait later that week when we have my step-son with us to call in sick so I can spend the day with them and bond with my step-son. But I tell him its Tuesday and I’m sick today, you want me to go to work sick until friday, and call in sick then? When I’m probably not sick anymore? He tells me its a waste of a day if i call in sick, and don’t I want to spend time with them and bond with his son, especially since he’s not with us all the time? So I get guilted to go to work when I’m sick, only to have my manager ask me why I’m at work because I’m too sick to be there. Sigh!

  80. My mom is DESPERATE for grandkids… my parents are divorced and both remarried, and I have nieces and nephews on my dad’s side (so my dad is a Grandpa). My mom is soooo jealous that my dad is a grandpa and she has no grandkids, so she’s always making sad little comments about how I need to start having babies so she can “catch up to my dad” haha. I’ve been dating a guy for about a year now (we are not engaged or anything, and in no way planning on having children!) and the other day my mom says to me, “you know… you don’t have to be married to have children… I’d really love some grand babies to spoil…” hahaha what!?!? Who tells their daughter to have children before they are married? Just so they can have grandkids.. I laughed so hard when she said that.

  81. Leaving the relationship I was in WITH A MARRIED MAN! “But YOU are all I live and breath…Oh, so YOU get what you want, what about what I want?…You are one selfish bitch!…I NEED you, I thought you understood how much I love you….So you’re just done with me huh?…I wish I had not loved you with everything I had, I’m a wreck and I will never get over this.” Ugggh! Intellectually I understand these are guilt traps, but they get me in the quiet places of my mind and heart and then I feel guilty! Is that insane?#@$!! He is A MARRIED MAN! It is absurd the hold that is there. I am otherwise, a very together person.

    • Is this for real? If it is, then with all sincerity, you need psychological counselling, not Ramit. Good luck!

    • Sister wives? I saw this show once where the guy was in the hospital for a sex related injury with a girlfriend. The wife started making out with the girlfriend and then bit out her tongue, right next to the hospital bed! Totally not worth the speech impediment.

  82. So my siblings and I are victims of parental guilt trips. We even have a term for when my parents guilt trip us…we call it the “Bollywood Movie Act”. This is how it works:

    1- parents vocalize their disapproval and how its the end of the world if we don’t do what they ask or do what they don’t want us to

    2- parents fall ill and in bed for days, making the children feel like crap and guilty because they are causing this. This is the Bollywood movie part, I’ve watched enough Bollywood movies and it’s so common for an actor to die and then come back to life by some miracle, mostly when the child marries who they want, or the love of their life comes and gives them a hug after they got stabbed and shot several times and died…..

    3- child does what the parents want and parents recover from illness in minutes!

  83. Took awhile to remember this, but turns out it was just super recent.
    I’ve been looking for work as a storyboard artist, and especially aspiring for one of the big studios down in LA (We live in the Bay Area, SF). Anyway I saw an announcement about future openings in Dreamworks (no set dates yet) but I was excited enough to tell my ma about it. Her only answer was ‘no’ and that ‘I can’t leave’ because she, me, and my bro are living together to help pay the house rent, and me leaving would essentially put them in a financial bind.

    I love my family and of course I wouldn’t want to just up and leave them, but it was her guilt-trip inducing way of going about it that really ticked me off. She apologized for it afterwards.

  84. Hey Ramit,

    I was watching Judge Judy one day and a husband was suing his ex-wife for something.
    I don’t remember what he was suing for…………
    I DO remember him saying the ex had given him a KIDNEY and ever since the surgery had held it over his head.

    Ha! …….Talk about “GUILT TRIP”

    As we say in the South, “Bless his heart”

  85. I’m planning on moving abroad soon. I’ll learn a new language, get my masters for a fraction of the cost of one in the US, live somewhere beautiful and inspiring, and get to pursue something I’m passionate about instead of spending all day avoiding my to do list *cough*.. That should be great, except I’m leaving my parents.

    My mom literally said to me “I want you to be happy I just worry about your father and me. After one of us dies the other will be living alone, and when that person dies no one will know. One of the neighbors will have to figure it out or something.”

    Seriously? You’re trying to incentivize my staying at home so that one day I’ll have the privilege of finding your corpse!? That put a rush on my savings goals, now I’m REALLY looking forward to getting away.

    I called her out on it and we had a good laugh. Now I like to bring it up with friends and family whenever they ask how my mom feels about me going away, just to embarrass her a little bit. ;)

  86. My parents have spent the last 28 years building a very successful local business. My dad always talks about how he is going to pass it on to me and my two sisters, even though I’ve made it very clear that it’s not what I want. After working there full-time for over a year after college, I decided to move on and pursue my own dreams. It wasn’t an easy decision (leaving a stable job that I could have forever to be unemployed in a new city), and the first week away was ROUGH. I felt so guilty about abandoning my family and the business that had supported me my whole life, and part of me still does. Of course it doesn’t help that whenever I talk to my dad, he says something to the effect of “Are you coming back? We really need you.” Thanks for piling on, Dad!

  87. I grew up in the east end of Toronto with two older siblings. Our father died when I was 14. His mother (our grandmother) lived on the far west side of the city. When I was 16 grandmother came and stayed with us for a week. During her visit she asked me (youngest in the family) if she could come and live with us. I told her that was not my decision to make. That was up to my mother and that she should ask her. My mother turned my grandmother down. My grandmother went home and one week later she committed suicide. Heavy, heavy guilt.

    The guilt gets even heavier. My grandmother left money in her will for our ‘further education’. She didn’t have a lot and we were her only grandchildren. I went off to university to study engineering. I could not pass one subject, even though I had excelled at maths and sciences in high school. Meanwhile my older sister was getting straight A’s, making dead granny proud.

    I went back and repeated first year engineering, trying to somehow deal with the guilt associated with letting down my dead grandmother. I quit halfway through my second attempt, drowning in guilt and shame.

    Several years later I was diagnosed with a learning disability associated with ADD, which only seems to come into play when the workload reaches a certain level. It’s kind of like the brain says, “that’s too much, I’m out of here”. In ADHD circles it’s often referred to as ‘hitting the wall’. I finally felt some relief from the guilt I was carrying about burning through my dead grandmother’s money and coming up empty.

    The guilt around my grandmother’s suicide? I assigned that to my mother.

    • wow dude..ditch the guilt and know this about your grandmother. As far as her asking you if she could live at a house that you yourself were a child in was unfair. Clearly you were mature enough to direct her to your mother. And the fact that she asked you and not your mother sort of speaks to how she knew what the answer was going to be from the adult in the house already. I can’t handle when I know people are trying to put kids into adult roles. You did your best at the time..remember you were a kid yourself. As for the matter of your grandma’s college money..if you can honestly say you tried your hardest and it was in fact your ADD preventing you from success and not just laziness then why would you feel guilty about failing…It sounds like to me that you tried the hardest you could but your brain can only take so much.. Remember your grandma had a lifetime of experiences that led her to suicide and her saying “can I live here?” and you responding “ask my mom” wasn’t a deal breaker. Plus maybe you could sense her desperation and knew it was beyond your level of maturity. Don’t regret protecting yourself from her…or the adult nature of what was going on. Ease up on yourself bro…One thing I try and remember is that my mom put me in some rough situation while I was growing up and my brain wasn’t done developing yet so if I chose wrong..I have got to keep in mind I wasn’t ready for those choices yet..

  88. oh man. A few years ago I’d just started talking to my mom again (I hadn’t really STOPPED, but figured she could put forth the effort to contact me for a while), in order to get the answers to some questions I’ve had since I was a kid. When I was puny, she’d brought home the only person that ever had me terrified, and I ran and hid, and basically never got over my fear of him, which turned out to be justified, as she and my stepdad were viciously verbally abusive.

    I made the mistake of trying to talk to her about this, and told her how paralyzing my fear had been, and her response?
    “Why would you say that?! Are you trying to hurt me?! Wait until he hears about this!” Sprinkled in amongst some other, face-palm inducing phrases, including “well if you’d talked to me, I would have known, but since you didn’t it’s clearly your own fault.” Well.

    I stopped talking to her for a while again, and told her that she could talk to me after SHE started seeing a therapist too. My little brother still lived with him, and things were as bad for him as they’d been for me. One day, he came on and said “Mom’s crying again about how much she misses you. Do you think you could give her a chance?” Eventually I conceded. And the exact same thing happened! Her first talk with me pretty much came down to ‘language is immutable and things only mean what they say literally in the dictionary and you’re an idiot if you think otherwise, and also I’ve never been horrible to you and you’re imagining that”

    I rescinded my decision and have not regretted it again.

  89. My father is a pastor in an extremely fundamentalist Christian church, so every day growing up was a constant guilt trip over the neighbors not thinking we are “proper Christian children because (insert any reason here- some notable examples: playing too loudly, building forts, not volunteering for unsavory church duties).

    However, far and away the worst guilt trip came a few years ago. As adults, my eldest brother and I left the church and religion all together. One Christmas, we came home to visit and, naturally, were expected to attend all church services. We did so, but, out of respect for our parents beliefs (non-believers are not permitted to participate in certain ceremonies), we abstained. This caused what we now refer to as “The Great Christmas Debacle of 2010″.

    Our dad abandoned his prepared sermon to lecture us on being “swayed by the temptations of the devil” in college in front of the whole congregation. Later that evening, we had a long discussion where he, crying, explained to us that we had made him into a failure as both a father AND a pastor. He then asked us both this question and would not allow us to change the subject:
    “Do you think I’m a lier or a fool? If you are not a Christian, you think one or the other, so which is it?”

    My brother and I refused to answer, left the house, and got a hotel. My father refused to have any other conversations with us for the rest of the visit.

  90. Hi Ramit,

    I think we’ve forgotten the guilt trips that weddings can cause. I am Bolivian and I married a German. So we decided to do two wedding ceremonies, one at home and one in Germany- The idea being that we wanted to celebrate with all the important people in our lives. As you know and I remember this as one of your advises (automate for weddings), weddings are expensive. My husband and I covered all the expenses, and because of this we wanted to limit our numbers of guests. So we prepared a list but as we were approaching the wedding, my father wanted to invite more guests. Some of them relatives but with whom I’ve had much less contact. I kept on saying, sure I can add them but dad your gonna have to pay for those extra guests because we’ve reached our budget. So my dad pushed really hard to invite his cousins (my aunts) and then did not pay for the extra guests. At any rate, we did not mind anymore. So religious ceremony in Germany is approaching and this time my husband’s parents are paying for the most expensive item (catering), they offered the help sincerely so we agreed and as such we are trying to limit as well the number of guests. It’s hard there are so many people we would like to invite but of course we do not want to abuse my parents in law generosity. Now my father again is insisting that I invite the Bolivian side to the wedding there, I explained that this time around I am not paying and also that the whole idea of having the two ceremonies was precisely so that we can all celebrate. So today I call my aunt (dad’s sis) and she said ‘you know you could have told us about the wedding in Germany’. It’s true that I did not send an invite or anything of the sort because I was hoping to invite other friends and family- those that could not make it to Bolivia. Then my aunt suggests that ‘they could have made it only if they knew’- to my silence she later replies- ‘you know your cousin is traveling to the States and he could just fly from there to Germany, why don’t you invite him’. I politely said ‘ok’ but I am thinking what is the point of this? So to summarize, I think that you only understand wedding decisions once you start planning your own. However, I would respect anyone’s decision to invite me or not to their wedding and still wish them a great one. I’ve had an acquaintance tell me this past visit at home that he was disappointed that I did not invite him- and again I was like ‘I am sorry it happened very fast’- did not know what else to say. So thank you Ramit I think we all needed some venting on the guilt trips subject!

  91. This story really isn’t mine but I thought I would share since it was one of the worst cases of guilt I have ever saw. My cousin and I have twin cousins who are both on drugs. My cousin was telling me how she was saying to her mom(my Aunt) that she is sick of dealing with our drug addicted cousin at holidays. They bring guys over who are like 30 or 40 years older than them, they look high, or they are shaky and extremely nervous, have emotional outbursts..the list goes on and on. Well anyhow my Aunt’s response to this was ” Well how would you feel if your son grew up and was on drugs? Then everyone in the family didn’t want him around?”…wow so I should approach the current very awkward and dysfunctional situation with sympathy in this off chance that my son grows up to be a drug addict because God forbid in his drug addicted state I wouldn’t anyone to reject his questionable behavior. I call that current guilt for a possible horrible future.

  92. I have two – My mom is a master at weirdo guilt tripping. Not regular guilt-tripping, mind you, weirdo guilt tripping. Best described with an anecdote:

    At dinner: why aren’t you eating those last pieces of broccoli? They’re so sad. They waited all their lives to be eaten. All their friends are happy in your stomach and they’re left out. Why don’t you just let them be with their friends?

    We joke about it now, but I’m 31 and it’s still hard to walk away from a plate of food with, like, 2 peas left on it, or buy ONLY 2 things from a shelf, even if it meant leaving the third orphaned in the store with no body to love it.

    (Note: My brother & I turned out ok despite this. No weight/eating disorders or hoarding issues. It was usually done with an air of joking, but she lets it hang, so it’s just enough to get in your head.)

    The second is from my mother-in-law, who is from the Philippines, and loves Facebook. Now, my husband and I are both 31, recently married after a long time dating, no serious plans to have kids. He’s in a band and we’re having fun, so we’re in no rush. Honestly, aside from a few comments, they really don’t bother us too much about it.

    Until last week. We belong to a FB group his family started so the branches in America and the Philippines can stay in touch. Last week, one of his cousins who recently had a baby and posted the first happy family picture.

    His mom wasted no time in posting “Hopefully we’ll be having one of these before too long!” and tagged my husband RIGHT ON THE BABY’S FACE.

    What makes this even better is that a large number of metal/rockabilly band’s fans are friends on his personal page, and all saw it… completely blowing his “image”. I found this hilarious, because I of course already know he’s actually a big dork.

    And, if it’s worth noting, he’s Philippino, I’m white. Which is probably why my mom’s guilt trips are bizarre.

  93. Damn. I totally missed out on this blog post and the webinar (and I got the notification last week too!), just when I needed assistance with this very subject that is very near and dear to my heart—well, uh, not exactly near and dear.

    I’ve got another tune in the family dynamics of Guilt Trip Theme and Variations. It’s very similar to what most of you have shared here: Asian + (fundie evangelist) Christianity = frequent guilt trip flyer miles. PhD and 9th degree black belt in guilt inducement.

    The expectation is to follow the tenets of the success secrets in the Asian community (particularly in this particular religious enclave): Do what everyone else in the community is doing. Be like everyone else. Trust only your own kind (people of your ethnic background and/or at least people of the same denomination). Hang out only with your own kind. Don’t even think about dating or marrying “outsiders” because they’re a bunch of psychos, sex fiends, and divorce mongers. And yes, you MUST have a career in health care because that’s where the greenbacks (and the green cards) are. You only have four career choices: nursing, nursing, academia/music teaching (yes, especially if you’re a female, be on the schoolmarmish side and teach only traditional/classical and church music to young’uns, which is a better alternative to the entertainment industry, being pretty much of the devil because it interferes with the day of worship), and oh, nursing. And of course, any and all health care/medical-related jobs carry the stamp of approval. (About 95% of the people in this community are in health care that it’s not even funny at all.)

    Do all of the above, and you’ll be guaranteed good fortune and good standing. Be a conformist, and the community rewards you. Step out of these standards, and expect a guilt furlough. Or be the odd man/woman out. If you’re an Asian kid, expect your parents to chew your @$$ off. I’ve tried to be a good “kid” in the community, doing what I was “supposed” to, though deep inside I know I’m different. I want to do my own thing. I feel like a swan in a pond of ducks (and sheep). I think that the constant guilt trip has held me back from what I really want to achieve in life. Through a combination of events (the Great Recession, failure of fitting into this small-minded subculture and finally having had enough of it), I just decided to screw it all. So I’m lost and don’t know how to go about going into my new life (and career life as well) and the process of finding a new network and a new community has been a challenge because the one I’ve been raised in has been involved in culture or industry incest (to use marketer guru Dan Kennedy’s term).

    So my parents are upset and disappointed. They say that my problems (career and financial, especially) are a result of “stepping out of God’s covering” for rejecting the denomination (which I think has borderline cult characteristics anyway), and so my blessings are taken away. They’re concerned about my salvation and what people will think of them (and me). So I’m a loser heathen and they still hold it over my head. It’s a blow to my dad’s ego, being a PK (pastor’s kid) and all. The fact that I broke with family tradition is horrific to them. They think I’m just being an ingrate for taking my 60K+ college education and diploma for granted (yes, they paid it with cash) because I have nothing to show for it and yes, it was from a university in this particular denomination. That stuff simply no longer serves me and they don’t want to accept that. (I have a BA in music, but later the fuddy-duddies in the field made me bail out for good and transition to another career path. I only did what I was raised to do—go to college and get a diploma. That’s what I knew at the time.) My parents think I’m such an EPIC FAIL that they’re sometimes embarrassed to let people know what I do for a living or my whereabouts. They resort to using some white lies when people ask them about me. In my process of plotting my dream career, I created some survival odd jobs to get by (far from glamorous, which is a huge disappointment to the family, although the gigs are totally morally and legally kosher). My dad went so far as to suggest that I’d resort to turning tricks if I kept doing what I’ve been doing. (WOW.) It was then that I stumbled upon professional pet care as a business, and although we have a fine long extended family tradition of loving animals (and LOTS of them), it’s a relatively new industry (only about 30 years, although it’s now a growing and thriving $55 billion industry), therefore untested and risky. I can count on ONE HAND the number of Asians in this business. Let’s just say I’m the first and only one in this area. And Asians (especially immigrants) LOVE things that are proven successful for centuries and generations. So my parents don’t seem to be too thrilled about my career change (plus again, they think I’m wasting away that university diploma they bust their behinds in blue-collar jobs to pay for!) and they can’t give me referrals or recommendations anyway because this is not what our people normally do, so they don’t have any network or contacts. (Hell, they didn’t even know its existence until I told them.) They don’t know what to do or say about it. It feels like they’re expecting me to fail once again, now that I’m doing something new. (And the guilt tape, er, CD/MP3 player is playing in my head a whole lot.) But I’m sure that once I roll in the dough, they’ll be tickled pink.

    I knew that when I told them about my SO, they’d flip. And flip they pretty much did. My dad thought that he was about to pass out after finding out my involvement with an “outsider.” They pretty much hate him and judge him even though they’ve never met him in person. He’d like to like them too, but their attitude towards him makes him return the same sentiment.

    When my mom is under a lot of stress, she normally cries her eyes out and rants that she regrets taking the whole family here to the States for nothing and she should’ve stayed “home” instead and blames me for the labor pain she went through. (Typical.) She goes on with her usual illness and death threats—that she’s going to get cancer and die (and even if she dies, she’ll be still obsessively think about my “well-being”) and that my dad’s going to drop dead from a heart attack if I cause more upset and disappointment. If they die, it’ll be my fault, and she thinks that I’ll be probably doing the happy jig if she goes six feet under. So I’m this cruel, heartless person. (Now that’s some guilt-trippin’ right there!) They say they really care and love me very much (uh, smother love?) and want me to be happy, yet their definition of happiness is having their own definition and philosophy of happiness imposed upon me. They say that they don’t want any of my money (really, since they’re still pissed off about the 60K?) and material things won’t make them happy. The only thing that makes them happy is to do what they want me to do—coming back to the church fold. (Yep, the BIGGIE.) I refuse. Yes, I do still believe in God and have my regular personal spiritual practice, but there’s no way I want to come back to that denomination.

    My mom even offered to put me back to school so I could get a better job with a big pay, but she strongly implied that I should go back to nursing. (She goes on and on to say that my cousins, relatives, etc., are wildly successful in health care and they’re making gobs of moolah.) But I think I’m not going to take that, even as a form of stability in this economy. No, thanks. If it fails, guess who’s gonna get another slathering of guilt? I ain’t takin’ that no’ mo’. Nope, from this point forward, I won’t have another guilt travel as my vacation destination. Or for any kind of trip. Really. It’s too, uh, TRIPPY, and I’ve had enough people trippin’ on me.

    • I can totally relate to the whole ‘going to have a heart attack and die’ guilt tripping… follow those dreams!

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