The Guilt Dangle (Revisited)
This time last year I wrote a blog post detailing a system I created. For the past week and a half, my wife and I were in Alabama visiting family and I found myself dusting off my creation and putting it to use. I’m not proud of it, and since I know some of you may be using a similar system in your relationships, I am reposting the blog as a reminder to myself and a warning to you. Here you go:
Have you ever been offended, hurt, or mistreated? Of course you have, and you’re not alone. The question is, what can you do about it? How do you make the offending party aware of your feelings and prevent them from ever messing up again? I have developed a method that I find most helpful. You have probably applied this method in some variation before. I call it The Guilt Dangle.
Here’s how it works, step by step:
- Put on a “face of displeasure.” The look is somewhere between “Is it bright in here?” and “Do you smell that?” This lets the offending party know that you are not happy and don’t plan on being happy for some time. It works especially well when you are in a large group, that way not only does the jerk who hurt you know you’re peeved, but everybody else can take notice. They’ll probably ask, “What’s wrong?” to which you can respond, “Oh, nothing.” The offender will then view you as an isolated sufferer who can’t even have fun with the group anymore. Boy, will they feel like a heel!
- Instant replay that junk. You know how sports shows replay highlights from a game, like say a Lebron James how’s-that-taste dunk, and how they sometimes play that same clip over and over in rapid succession? Yeah, do that with the person’s offense. Explain what they did wrong to them as many times as possible in the course of a conversation. And just when the conflict seems to be finding resolution, throw in a “Yea, but,” and start the whole thing back up again. You’re doing them a favor; chances are they don’t understand the magnitude of their decision and how it has affected you.
- Hit ’em with the old “I’m not mad. I’m just hurt.” This is the verbal equivalent to them accidentally running over a bunny with a lawnmower. Talk about laying it on thick. They will feel awful, and they may even cry, which is a win because then you can say, “Oh, so now you wanna make this about your feelings. I can’t even have my own time to be upset.” Guilt perfection!
- Finally, tell them that you forgive them, but it still doesn’t change the way you feel. You have at this point rendered them helpless. They will feel obligated to do something, but at the same time realize there is nothing they can do. You will have a free pass for hours, if not days. And just to rub it in, throw in a “huff-n-puff.” Whenever you’re around them just let out a long sigh, and hang your head low. They will curse the day they ever did you wrong. It may seem like overkill, but somebody’s got to teach them, and if not you, who will? They’ll thank you later.