How big is your guilt gland? Has anyone ever asked you this? I have to say that women, mothers, in particular, seem to have a more sensitive or over-developed guilt gland.  Regardless if you are a woman or a man, this message will help you sidestep the manipulation that comes with guilt, to win @ work and life.

If you feel bad when your child says things like, “You never give me what I want!” and in Covid-times I am sure you have often heard, “But life’s so unfair!” or your spouse or partner says: “You always spoil my fun, other wives or husbands would never do that!” then maybe you need to get your guilt gland in check by taking some assertive action.

I have always maintained, from a parenting perspective, that when you feel guilty you are putting your children in the driver’s seat. It’s the same with your adult relationships too. Someone has said something that hits a nerve and you become easy to manipulate, allowing others to call the shots.

The more guilty you feel, the harder they’ll squeeze, and often get exactly what they want. Entitlement doesn’t start with children, it starts with us. Manipulation can only happen in our personal and professional relationships if we allow and enable it.

When is guilt healthy?

  • When it’s in the form of a stab of conscience if you have perhaps been operating unconsciously
  • If it causes you to make better decisions in the best interests of
    • your own life
    • your relationships with your colleagues
    • or with your partner and your children
  • Here is a great example. When my eldest son was 3 years old, I was pushing to meet a sales target to win a trip to the tropical island of the Comores. I was incredibly distracted and I remember him looking at me in the eye and saying, “Mummy, you so borwing (boring)!” It was a really important moment that stopped me in my tracks and literally made me relook at what I was doing, why I was doing it and how sustainable it was. I made so many different career decisions after that moment. He was not manipulating me but rather speaking the truth to power. I did win the trip to the Comores

When is guilt debilitating?

  • When it leads to over-indulging people in your life even when you can’t afford to
    • For example, helping people out financially, while they still continue with their takeaway coffee addiction that’s costing them R35 or more a day
  • Lowering your expectations of others to compensate for whatever it is you are feeling guilty about
    • An expamle of this is when people speak to you disrespectfully and you allow it because they have experienced a loss or trauma in their life

How to Take Action to Diffuse Guilt

When your guilt gland is squeezed and you want to turn the tables, trying saying something like,

“You’re absolutely right, I never thought of that,” and simply walk away.

This will usually take the wind right out of the sails of your ‘’would be’ manipulator, and they’ll let go of your guilt gland in a flash. It also creates a buffer zone,  providing a moment of pause. preventing you from going straight into a reactive mode. Who knows what they will do with that, but it might make them think or act a little differently.

Guilt is an energy leak you need to become more aware of in all your relationships both at work or at home to avoid being manipulated. Take a moment today to consider who you are allowing to yank your chain and squeeze your guilt gland.


  • Make a list of people who yank your chain in the work environment
  • Become more aware of how you react in the moment
    • Do you respond or react?
    • Do you just feel horrible inside?
  • Consider why they manage to hit your tender spot so easily
    • Are they bringing your awareness to something or an issue that needs to be addressed now?
    • Are they just hitting an old trigger from your past that has nothing to do with them that you need to work on to diffuse?
    • Are they actually trying to manipulate you?
  • Try taking the sting out of the ‘would be’ manipulator with the action step above,  keep in mind, this is not a confrontation, say it and casually walk away, you are not opening up a conversation but building in a buffer zone


  • Who is squeezing your guilt gland?
    • Is it for good reason? What are they bringing your attention to?
      • What are they getting out of the manipulation?
      • How is that working for you?
      • Has it helped you make better decisions?
      • What are you learning about yourself, your past conditioning and your emotional triggers?
  • Try using the ‘take the wind out of their sails’ action step and see what happens, particularly to you as you drop the guilt and leave it where it belongs.
  • Children and partners or spouses provide amazing mirrors for our self-growth
    • Acknowledge their role in your development
    • Work at desensitising your guilt glan

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy the podcast of the Refiloe Mpakanyane Weekend Breakfast  Show on 702, where we discussed this guilt, manipulation and power struggles.