Don't Let Someone's Guilt Influence Your Decisions

Dec 15, 2020

When it comes to making decisions, one of the things we experience is guilt. When you choose to do something for yourself, or make any kind of decision-based on your conviction that it is the right thing to do, you may sometimes feel as if you have done something bad because of people’s adverse reactions.

I had one experience along these lines when a friend put his elderly mother in an assisted care facility. His family had been helping her in many ways as she got up in years. Although she was relatively healthy, the burden was getting to be too much for any of them. The situation had reached the point where their family life could not continue intact if she were not where she could get the kind of help they could not provide.

When my friend told his mother of their decision, she ranted at him with enough guilt messages to weigh down several families. “After all I’ve done for you.” She began, and it went on from there. “Just send me away to die!” she said, even though she was perfectly capable of partaking in all sorts of activities at the facility if she chose. His response?

“Mom, I am sorry that it feels to you like we don’t care. Certainly we do. And we are going to visit often. But we just cannot take care of you at home anymore. This is the best decision. Now, you have a choice. You can be angry about it and refuse to enjoy this wonderful facility and all the great people here. Or you can try to enjoy it, take part, meet the people and have a good life with them and with us. It is up to you. I will help you, but you are going to have to choose to make this work for you,” he said. 

He hit the wave in a turbulent sea. She did not like it. Spraying guilt upon guilt, she tried to steer the ship onto an alternate course. But he was fixed on a heading and did not allow the guilt message to get him off the course he had set as best for his own family and her as well.