So I'm driving along the highway on a Quebec road doing ten kilometers above the speed limit. For American friends, a kilometer is not as long as a mile so it feels like your going faster because, at the same speed, you can do a hundred of them in an hour compared to only 60 miles. If you've ever driven on a Quebec highway, you know that going 10 kilometers above the speed limit will cause people to point their finger at you because you're holding up traffic! And it is usually the long middle finger they're pointing, to make sure that you don't miss it. Unless you're doing at least 20 kilometers an hour over the limit, the cops don't even see you.

So here I am doing 110 in a 100km/hour zone when I pass a cop on the side of the road. Immediately I start to feel it. Oh oh, I'm in trouble. I slow down to 90 and I keep looking behind me to see if he's coming. It doesn't matter that all the other cars passed him faster than I did, It's me he wants. I'm the target. Never mind that I know that he didn't even look up from his doughnut at me. Here I go again. I think I'm on a road trip, but I'm on a guilt trip!

There are two basic types of guilt trips that you take. One you deserve and one you don't. The one you deserve is obvious. It 's associated to something you did that violates what you think is wrong. When you scrape a car in the parking lot with your car, then drive off, you'd better feel guilty! And when you finally understand that, could you please contact me so I can give your information to my insurance company?

The second guilt is the disassociated kind. This is the one that keeps me working. This is the one that takes up so much energy, and causes people no end of suffering.

It shows up in my own example of squirming when I go past a police car. I sometimes don't realize that there is no one in the car at the time. I actually feel guilty because of a parked car!

I've trained sales people directly in the past on selling techniques, and things that would help them do a better sale. What I soon learned was that everyone, and I mean everyone, has a dollar figure in their head that they think they deserve, and you will do everything in your power not to go too far below it, nor too high above it. I've watched so often to the point where I can predict the sort of behaviour I will see in a salesperson. Like the one who has all sorts of talent but is underachieving. If he gets the opportunity to land 'the big one' something will happen to kill the deal. If his sales were considerably down for whatever reason, in the end he will pull a rabbit out of a hat and land the difficult deal that no one else could get, but because of a slow start, end up with about the same sales as the year before.

You see, guilt doesn't just manifest itself as that classical feeling of guilt that looks like this. Because we really really don't like feeling guilty, we will simply not do the things that would cause guilt to rear its ugly head in the first place. In that way we deal with a guilt trip before it has a chance to manifest. Because we do this so well, we don't even realize that half the time, we are motivated by a guilt that isn't even there yet.

Where does all this guilt come from? Associated guilt is easy, because it is related to a value that you have, and it can be quite different from the next person. If a cashier in the grocery store misses something under the cart, some people would feel guilty walking out without saying something and others would not. I'm not commenting on right or wrong, or how someone else feels about you, I'm talking about how you would feel.

The disassociated guilt trip seems to come out of the air. You don't even think about it most of the time, you just act to prevent it as much as possible.

But oh how it sneaks in!

Take the scene of a young child at the supper table, who is told, “If you want to get off the table, you have to eat everything on your plate. You think about the starving children in -----”, that prompts every kid in the world to think, “then send it to them.” but over time, the message of ignore what your body needs, do as we say just gets lodged in there on the other side of conscious thinking, and tries to guilt you whenever it gets the chance. Don't get me started on the causes of weight problems, that's an evening all to itself.

How many “See what you've made me do” can you hear as a child before you start to believe that you are responsible for other peoples actions? How often do you do something you don't want to do, because, really, you don't want to make someone feel bad? How often do you let others take advantage of you, because you don't want to feel the weight of responsibility of other people's feelings.

How many, “you make me so mad” does it take to teach you that someone else's anger is your responsibility. How much time do you spend bending, and shaping, and keeping things inside so that you don't provoke someone else's anger, and the feeling of guilt and fear that it would cause?

How many, “what will the neighbours, or people, think” does it take while you are learning how to think, can you hear before you learn that other people's opinion of you matters more than what you think of you?

Who here started smoking and kept it completely to themselves? No one? No kidding! Smoking is always associated with peer approval, or disapproval if the object is to become the classical bad boy or girl. We know today that smoking will kill half of the people doing it, yet what can be stronger than a 50/50 chance of dying? Peer pressure. Feeling bad, feeling left out, feeling guilty,

One of the most powerful levers in the world is the lever of feelings. Almost every commercial that you watch, will try to convince you to buy the product in one of two ways. The first way is to convince you that you will feel better, be better liked, be admired, respected, and you will have more sex, if you buy the product.

The other way is to tell you that if you don't buy the product, you will show that you are stupid, you will be shunned, rejected, ignored, you will lose status, money, friends, and you certainly won't have sex anymore. These commercials are typically funnier, because they make you laugh at the target in the commercial without you realizing that you are the target!

Why do they do it? Because it works. And if it works then it tells us something about how we think and act on what we think. It tells us that we do a tremendous amount of things in our lives for exterior reasons, and that these reasons are rarely questioned or even identified. It tells us that we do a lot of avoidance behaviour with regards to negative feelings.

How do we stop taking guilt trips? Before we can achieve this goal, maybe we could start by making the trips a little shorter! This I can hint at in an article. Think of guilt as a tool that protects an idea. The idea may be that harm will come your way if you don't 'heed' the guilt. Guilt,like most negative feelings are intrinsically linked to self images that were created by exterior influences. Because of this they shouldn't be called self images at all, and in my book "Through the Door!" :A Journey to the Self, I refer to them as
Relationship Tags.

When you start to feel that emotional engine running and you know a guilt trip is coming, invoke your Will. That is, take a moment to be conscious and tell yourself that this guilt that would stop you from doing whatever benign thing your thinking about doing, or (saying), has nothing to do with you. Make the choice to do what you want to do, In spite of feeling guilty Sure it's hard to do at first, but that act of consciousness, that invoking of your Will, will allow you to go where you want to. Sure, the guilt may be a passenger, but it won't be driving! You will have taken control of your guilt, not pick a fight with it. At some point, you will notice that your guilt isn't as strong as it was when it controlled you.

Author's Bio: 

Phil L. Méthot is a Montreal area motivational speaker and Author. His book "Through the Door!" :A Journey to the Self,is a powerful tool that goes into much greater detail in the nature of our self images, and how to use our Will Power to create life without fear taking over.

Phil is a Public Speaking consultant for individuals and for companies who need to have their employees become better communicators. His website dealing with all things Motivational and personal development is Methotology.com