A 5-Step Guide To Escape The Guilt Trap

Whether it’s stealing a donut bit in our diet days or not calling our mon in her birthday, that is a no-brainer that guilt creates havoc in your mind, sometimes for a long time. Guilt trap; A self-imposed problem that appears when we think we are not living up to someone’s or own our expectations. While it’s tough to conquer, it’s kind of necessary to overcome guilt and cultivate self-forgiveness to maintain your self-esteem.

Do you ever feel guilty for taking time off or doing things for yourself, or do guilt and obligation ever influence your choices or plague you with regret? Some might worry that without guilt and obligation they won’t fulfill responsibilities, but, as you’ll soon see, this just isn’t the case. So, if you’re ready to escape guilt and obligation, this is for you!

Guilt and obligation

In theory, it might sound nice to put others first, but when guilt and obsessive obligation cloud personal needs, it’s easy to become last on your own list, and consequently, the hidden costs can be unending.

Under the spell of guilt and obligation, we may suppress expression, remain disempowered, and disregard the inner guidance that could otherwise lead us to joy. Moreover, if we are afraid to cause harm or inconvenience to others, guilt and obligation might trap us in jobs or relationships well past their expiration date.

Guilt is so emotionally debilitating that we’ll do almost anything to avoid it. Indeed, it’s much easier to say yes and avoid guilt, than suffer the consequences, and, if never-ending guilt is not enough to control our behavior, the after-effects of regret can haunt our memories for life.

No doubt, there’s a huge cost for playing the Guilt Game, and it’s a game that can never be won!

My mother was the queen of guilt, and she generously taught me everything she knew, and, in fact, I spent the first twenty-something years of my life trying to please her, and everyone else for that matter. But, it never worked, because it was impossible to meet every expectation, so no matter how much I tried, guilt had me under siege.

Year after year, it turned me into a phony people pleaser, but underneath the cloud of guilt, I was screaming to get out! With no exit strategy, I did my best to suppress resentment, stress, and overwhelming, but, when repercussions finally caught up, guilt manifested as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Although this gave me an excuse to say no to all the people I pleased, I still felt too guilty to put my needs first. By that point, it was perfectly clear that guilt would be my master until I learned to master guilt.

Indeed, I was right – once I understood the dynamics behind guilt and obligation, I took responsibility for the racket I was unconsciously running, and after that, it was surprisingly easy to escape the Guilt Trap once and for all!  And, if I can do it, you can too! 

I offer the following as your “Get Out of Guilt-Free Card,” and I’m going to show you exactly how to use it!

Hidden Dynamics of the Guilt Trap

Like any trap, to escape the Guilt Trap, you must first understand how it operates, and then use this knowledge to free yourself. In fact, just by spotlighting the hidden dynamics, clarity can transform confusion into control, and the chains will begin to loosen.

Related: To The Man Feeling Too Guilty To Leave

The Origins of Guilt

In primitive times, if our tribes found us unworthy, it led to shame, abandonment, and often death, and this meant that worthiness was essential for survival. Since the ego is a survival program in the subconscious mind, its primary objective is to ensure worth (to prevent abandonment), and it does so by utilizing the Worthiness Program.

Although times have changed and survival is no longer dependent on worth, the Worthiness Program continues to operate, and, as a result, it motivates us toward “worth-producing behaviors” and away from “useless behaviors” that do not prove, protect or improve worth. And its’ two secret weapons are guilt and obligation.

The purpose of obligation is to motivate you to do whatever it takes to prove or maintain worth so that your modern-day tribe will provide approval and acceptance, and, therefore, not abandon you.

If you were to make a list of all your obligations, you might realize that most represent the specific conditions you must meet to be worthy, such as fulfilling roles, living up to expectations, being needed, demonstrating importance, etc…  

Obligation tells you what to do, and guilt (or fear of impending guilt) ensures you follow through – just the thought of putting off your “to-do list” may be enough to induce painful bouts of guilt.

Guilt says, “Who do you think you are? How dare you choose yourself over others?”

Obligation and guilt are strange bedfellows and if one doesn’t get you, the other will. Even if you get away with shirking obligation, there’s a price for saying no.

Guilt is your judge and jury, and by nature of guilt, you’re guilty until proven innocent, and because guilt is the punishment and the Punisher, your fate is sealed and your sentence guaranteed.

Related: 7 Ways To Overcome Introvert Guilt And Embrace Your Inner Introvert

The Cost of Guilt and Obligation

In return for obligation-driven behavior, others might give us approval, acceptance, appreciation, or another emotional need associated with worth. Although this may be momentarily satisfying, according to the Worthiness Program, we are only worthy as long as we meet conditions and receive the emotional need most associated with worth.

Furthermore, we must be sufficiently worthy before taking time off or doing something simply for the fun of it, but, it’s a trap because proving one’s worth can never be done, and the endless attempt can result in dire consequences.

Every time guilt or obligation gets the deciding vote, it results in some form of self-suppression, repression, or even depression, and, consequently, creates another hole for energy to drain.

No doubt, there’s an accumulative cost to putting ourselves last. Over time, ignoring personal needs and desires wreaks havoc on the physical and emotional body, and it eventually manifests as the type of pain and suffering that forces us to withdraw our attention from others and focus on self-healing.

Some people use illness as an excuse to put themselves first, but you don’t need excuses to care for yourself. In fact, if you need an excuse to say no, you’re going to unconsciously manifest excuses, and have to deal with the consequences. However, there’s no point in disempowering yourself with avoidable problems when you can empower yourself with a permanent solution!

Related: 5 Strategies For Surviving The Guilt Of Infidelity

The Cure for Guilt and Obligation

Inevitably, the quest for conditional worth is doomed to fail. No matter what you do or how you do it, even if you attain great success or bend over backward to please others, there’s always someone who will disapprove, judge, or reject, and, quite possibly that someone is you.

escape guilt

When every situation, experience, and relationship requires continuous proof of worth, the game never ends, and sooner or later, it becomes apparent that if you want to overcome obligation and avoid the Guilt Trap, you must turn off the Worthiness Program.

Once the Worthiness Program is deactivated, there is no longer a reason to be motivated by obsessive obligation, and as obligation loses hold, guilt naturally dissolves over time.

How to Deactivate the Worthiness Program

1. Stop Trying to Prove, Protect or Improve Worth!

Here’s the truth that can set you free; you are unconditionally worthy, and because worth is guaranteed and intrinsic, no matter what you do or don’t do, you are no less worthy. But, it is not enough to consciously know this truth without reprogramming your subconscious mind, and this means that you must convince your subconscious of your unconditional worth.

Since any attempt to prove, protect or improve worth reinforces the idea of conditional worth, you must stop thinking and acting like your worth is conditional. By claiming your unconditional worth, you tell your subconscious mind that abandonment does not threaten your survival, and, consequently, the Worthiness Program can turn off.

2. Release Conditions

Disentangle your worth from what you do, how you look, where you live, status, accomplishments, diplomas, roles you play, living a certain way, or whatever your conditions of worth might be.

3. Command Worth

Whatever you say after “I am” is a command to the subconscious mind, so even if you don’t fully believe it yet, claim, “I Am Unconditionally Worthy.” You may need to make this command thousands of times before your subconscious believes it, so keep at it until you feel worthy.

4. Dismiss the Jury that Decides Your Worth!

Stop allowing others to determine your worth; let everyone off the hook and take your power back. It’s none of your business what anyone thinks about you.

5. Demonstrate Worth! 


If you believe you are worthy, your thoughts, actions, and behaviour must consistently demonstrate worth. For example:

  • Think empowering thoughts and say no to self-judgment.
  • Care for your body as a sacred temple.
  • Set and enforce boundaries that teach others how to treat you.
  • Protect your energy and not allow anyone to bring you down.
  • Respect your time and say “no” when you want to say no.
  • Share your gifts and talents and do what you love to do.
  • Speak your truth and stand in your power.
  • Love who you really are and honour yourself as a treasure!

Although this may seem like a big list to master, healthy and abundant people live accordingly. Consider that each aspect of this list that is overlooked may result in corresponding issues.

The key point is choosing to believe that you are unconditionally worthy, and doing your best to act, think and behave like someone who knows and owns their worth.

As you develop a new practice of unconditional worth remember to be kind and patient with yourself. It is a step-by-step, moment to moment, process until you reach a threshold where unconditional worth sets you free!

Related: 8 Types Of Toxic People You Should Leave Without Feeling Guilty

Motivation to Inspiration

If you’re still worried that without guilt and obligation you won’t fulfill responsibilities, you can set your mind at ease. Sure, it’s possible that some responsibilities drop away, especially the things you’re only doing to prove or improve worth, but without guilt and obligation being the driving force, most people tend to show up more authentically, and, therefore, are much more effective in all areas of life, and this is exactly what I experienced.

Related: 8 Ways To Cultivate Resilience In Yourself During Tough Times

Claiming my worth allowed me to identify my energy as valuable currency, and, as a result, I was able to realign all my relationships in ways that respected my time and energy, thereby filling the holes in my life where energy was leaking.

Committed to my wellbeing, I said no over and over again until it was as effortless as breathing, and after a few months of guilt-free living, my energy was replenished, my health restored, and my zest for life reignited.

As I treasured my energy, my energy manifested treasures, and, as a result, the most unexpected thing occurred. Overflowing with energy, I had an abundance to share, and I discovered a deep desire to contribute and be of service to others.

However, without the dark spell of guilt and obligation, love effortlessly took the helm, and instead of being depleted, I became energized from the inside out. But, this is not just my experience; over the years, I have helped thousands of people do the same.

As ego-driven motivation falls away and source-driven inspiration takes its place, love becomes the guiding force, and this leads to a whole new way of living, where true authenticity inspires joy, contribution, and fulfillment. Isn’t this how life is meant to be lived?

Written By Nanice Ellis
Originally Appeared On: Nanice.com 
Republished with permission.
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