“False Guilt”…

Much of the time, the things we feel guilty about are not our issues. Another person behaves inappropriately or in some way violates our boundaries. We challenge the behavior, and the person gets angry and defensive. Then we feel guilty. Melody Beattie

Meditation: Many who were raised in a volatile or addicted family environment develop co-dependent behavior and traits. One of those traits is to develop “false guilt”. This kind of guilt is not grounded in a sin we commit, (which would be “healthy guilt” and can be forgiven), but it is “false guilt”. False guilt is not a committed sin, but a feeling and response arising from somebody else accusing us for challenging them, telling the truth about them or pointing out things that the other person does not want to admit or deal with. When this challenged person’s anger erupts, the truth teller who grew up in an unsafe environment suddenly feels guilty and takes personal responsibility for the anger that is being displayed, as if it was all the truth teller’s fault. This “false guilt” feeling then often becomes a pervasive and unconsciously maintaining force that is enabling the violation cycle. To recognize that “false guilt” is happening and to break this cycle takes much courage. Our Christian faith can be a helpful resource, as it encourages us to tell the truth and to “only fear God”. We are also promised the Holy Spirit to help us discern what in our life needs to be confessed as sin and what is not sin (like truth telling and challenging others who are violators of others.)

Prayer: Gracious God, come and be with us when we are afraid of the other person’s anger and rage, when we take in and believe the accusations that “it is all our fault”, when we feel “false guilt” and are confused. Come with Your Holy Spirit of discernment and freedom. Come and free us from our fear of others’ reactions. Liberate us from the anxiety that we could be shamed and blamed for telling the truth. Free us from our co-dependent behavior and our enmeshment with others who violate our boundaries and who manipulate us with their rage and anger. Thank You for setting us free. Amen

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

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