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Guilt: the pushers and the pullers

The "bad" guilt pushers: the ones who do it intentionally and for selfish reasons

In my new home of Medellin, Colombia, car drivers, when stopped and waiting for a light to change, are often accosted by "volunteer" windshield cleaners. The cleaners, without permission or invitation, start cleaning your windshield as you're waiting for the light to change. You could try to stop them but then you're left with a messy windshield.

Which do you prefer: resentment or guilt?

Other than the messy windshield route, your options seem to be to either give them the expected payment for their unrequested service or to feel like a bad guy for being a cheapskate. Most of those who pay up do so with resentment, considering that preferable to being the "bad" guy by refusing to pay.

As you can see, we have a continuing conspiracy of the guilt pushers (the windshield cleaners) and the guilt pullers (the drivers who get relieved of their small change). Each make the other possible.

The "good" guilt pushers: the ones who do it thoughtlessly and for altruistic reasons

No one would think my kindly maternal grandmother Beebe to be a bad person for intentionally taking advantage of guilt pushing, like the cleaner guys and girls do of the Medellin car drivers. Yet she was an excellent guilt pusher when it came to self-sacrifice for others. 

In 1979, when my mother Dorothy made a courageous decision to leave my father, a man she hadn't respected or loved for over 35 years of marriage, Beebe did some effective guilt pushing. When my mother informed her of her decision to divorce my father, Beebe responded with, "You can't leave him, Dorothy. He needs you." 

My mother, a guilt puller, especially in relationship with her mother, immediately caved into her fear of her mother's blame. She continued in her marriage to a man she despised (and felt sorry for) for another five miserable years. When she finally left him in 1984, she often said to me, "Why didn't you tell me how great life would be without him!?"

Who are you?

Are you a guilt pusher? With your family members? Your boss or employees? Your students or teacher? Your friends or others? Is this the relationship you want to have with them?

Are you a guilt puller?

Guilt pullers make guilt pushers possible. If there were no guilt pullers, guilt pushers would never be able to exist.

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