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The Relationship Between Guilt and Boundaries

Chances are if you feel bad or guilty about something that other normal people don’t even think about, it’s a sign that you have an issue with boundaries. Case in point.

I have a colleague that has a side job where she gives seminars for single women. I’m single, by choice for now, and am not interested in spending my weekend in a room full of women searching for love. No offense, it’s just not my thing. We don’t even work in the same department, we just happen to share office space, and last year she nagged me to go, and was relentless despite my continual kind refusal. For some reason or another there is just something about me that allows people to push and push and, since I have an issue with boundaries, I end up feeling guilty which is just not fair. However, on a positive note, the guilt challenges my efforts to create and maintain boundaries.

Recently she brought up her annual upcoming seminar for single women and said, “You’re going this year.” Yikes! That’s the worst thing anyone can possibly say to me when they are trying to get me to do something that I don’t want to do. The more I get pushed, and the more anxiety I feel as a result, the more I am going to be defiant and refuse to go but, it doesn’t help that I feel bad. I mean not bad enough to just suck it up and go but, still. So shortly after her accosting me, I took a walk to get a coffee with another colleague and pitched ideas to get out of the whole thing.

  • “I can say I’m going to be out of town.”
  • “I can say I have a friend in town that I am hosting.”
  • “I can say I have a prior obligation and just write her a check for a ticket anyway to support her cause.”
  • “I can say I fell ill that day and just not show up.”
  • “I can say I had car trouble so wasn’t able to make it.”
  • “I can fake having a boyfriend and have found true love.”
  • “I can say I’ve decided to spend a year alone to work on myself.”
  • “I can say I’m anti establishment and don’t believe in any causes across the board in life.”

I mean the list of excuses went on and on and, and as I continued to discuss with my colleague ways to get out of it, I found myself growing angry, frustrated, anxious, disappointed, and annoyed. The feelings of guilt parlayed into a whole swamp of negative emotions, and it forced me to truly examine why I allow myself to get into this horrible mental state. Well, obviously I have to work harder on my boundaries.

It’s hard to manage guilt when you have issues with boundaries. I’ve learned a lot over the years of signs of my issues with boundary like apologizing for something when it is not my fault, or being takin advantage of, or exploited, or manipulated my boundary-less predators. People that target people that have issues with boundaries usually have boundary issues on their own so, I try to keep that in mind when the guilt takes hold. I think try showing compassion or empathy if you happen to run into people that also struggle with boundaries, and don’t even know it.

Bottom line: I’m not going. But, I’m also not going to be pressured the next upcoming months on end. Nor am I going to use one of my lame excuses not to go. So now I find myself giving myself a mantra to maintain my sanity: No means no. And if I have to verbalize it, and risk the chance of sounding like a jerk, so what, it’s better than living with guilt that is unwarranted.


The Relationship Between Guilt and Boundaries

Erica Loberg

Erica Loberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Columbia University in New York and graduated with a BA in English. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane, Screaming at the Void, What Men Should Know About Women, What Women Should Know About Men, Diamonds From The Rough , Undressed, and I'm Not Playing.

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APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2019). The Relationship Between Guilt and Boundaries. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Jun 2019
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