How to Handle Feelings of Guilt When Saying No

Saying No To AlcoholicThis has to be one of the most difficult things to do when living with or working with an active alcoholic. How do you handle the feelings of guilt that are associated with saying no and then feeling guilty. You see much of our illness is being caretakers; we always want to fix everything and everybody. So, we find ourselves always saying yes to everything. The problem is that we can get so busy fixing people, places and things that we forget to take care of ourselves.

May I suggest that you begin to evaluate everything that you are involved in and consider saying no once in awhile. This can be considered having tough love with an alcoholic, but can be emotionally healthy in regards to other relations as well.

It will do us all some good to learn how to say no, not only to the alcoholics in our lives, but also anyone else or activity that causes us to over extend ourselves and not take good care of ourselves.

Girl ThinkingSo, how does all this tie into the subject of guilt an interacting with problem drinkers? Well, when we begin to realize that we are spending tons of our lives immersed with trying to fix the alcoholic and then we decide to make changes and focus on ourselves there will be feelings of guilt that are associated with the changes. The whole idea can fall under learning how to detach from an alcoholic.

Here’s an illustration. Do you think that there will be an opportunity for feeling guilty sometimes when you decide to; “just say no?” Think about that for just a moment. How do people in your life respond when you say no? Perhaps you very rarely say no.

When we make a decision to start focusing on ourselves, then we are going to have to learn how to manage our lives so that we stop taking care everyone else. As soon as we do this there are going to be people who will try to make us feel guilty about our decision to not help them.

When the guilt begins, I want you to remember this next statement; “we don’t do guilt!” We have a right to pick and choose the things that we will or will not do for others.

Here’s another great truth. It’s OK to “just say no” without explaining why. If you tell someone that you cannot do a particular thing, it might be giving the money or even a ride somewhere; they might try to make you feel guilty. This oftentimes is where they will try their best to get what they want by making you feel guilty about your decision.

Now let’s combine the two together to shield ourselves from feeling guilty. It’s OK to say no because it’s my life and I can do what I choose to do with it. Oh and one more thing, “I don’t do guilt.” You may also enjoy reading about How To Stop Taking Care Of An Alcoholic.

4 comments to How to Handle Feelings of Guilt When Saying No

  • Amy

    I use to clean up his messes do EVERYTHING around here..Now I dont..for example when I left for work this morning the house was it is not…I made supper last night so as far as I am concerned he should of washed the dishes..his big accomplishment for the day was going to the basement unloading the dryer and throwing the clothes on the couch..ALL these things were HIS repsonsibility, jobs he should of done and his messes are his to clean up and I simply wont do it..I have let dishes pile up on top of the ones he should of done for 5 days..eventually he will see I am not going to do it and he WILL..I have also made it very clear..get into messes while drunk..dont call me…get another dui, I dont know who is going to get you were you are going to go..but it wont be me..His mother had to come here and call the ambulance one afternoon while I was at work he drank so much he was in the fetal position on the floor..completely out of it..I had just got done work..had not had supper and was not going to drive an hour to deal with that crap..I called and asked to speak with the doctor to ask if he thought this was a life or death situation because it will be the only way I come over there..when the alcoholic did call..crying, begging,saying he is sorry..I simplt told him You are the one who chose to spend your day getting drunk, and because of that and the fact you drank to much it is YOUR actions that put you where you are..I worked hard all day, I am tired and I am not coming to see you, and when they do relaese you, you need to find a ride home because I am not coming to get you…and I didnt..I use to enable him in every shape or didnt change anything, I use to bitch, whine,moan, try to talk sense into him..that didnt work I simply stop doing it..he makes me angry ALOT..and I am tired of feeling angry..I can set boundaries till the cows come home, I can and have stopped cleaning up his messes or doing anything for him he could and should be doing for problem is the anger and level of it I feel..I am honestly so tired of feeling so mad and angry at him what seems to be all the time…

  • Debbi

    Amy–You’re doing a great job–Guilt is a tough one for me & still suffering from that since the end of my marriage & still looking back and feeling guilty. You seem to be on the right path on this one–sure wish I had more of your attitude–could use that right now.

  • Amy

    Debbi…don’t feel guilty for the things they do and the way they act../.take a look at them,.,the shape they are in and the things they do and take it from there….You have NOTHING to feel guilty about…Anger is my thing..I wish I just didnt get so angry..and lonely thats why I started my garden my whole yard looks wonderful thanks to ME and it feels good when I have cars slowing down to admire my hard I figured if I continue to wait for an alcoholic for support, comfort and love and to keep me from feeling lonely..I am going to have a long wait ahead of me and alot of lonely depressing I had better start doing things that make me happy and fill the void..and it is working…like I said you have NOTHING to be guilty about…I turn it around when I can and take advantage of HIS guilt…like last night he drank and nothing got donen he passed out by 5..I was a bit put out he promised me he would build me another raised garden…I fell for that one I expected something from an alcoholic and knew better so I got angry and resentful.( I know better than to expect them to follow through on what they say).when he woke up this morning..I went right outside and didnt say a word..he came out with his usual I am sorries and if I dont stop drinkng like this I am going to die and I am sorry I let you down and if I dont stop this soon I am going to have to go to rehab…I have heard this a million times (he is just telling me what he thinks I want to hear) I took advantage of the guilt ..I got MORE money out of him for my gardens..andI have him working his little butt off helping me today…and I had better get him to do what I can today..bacause he will be drunk again tomorrow…

  • […] JC: Diane your submission was titled, “How To Stay Focused Without Feeling Guilty.” One of the characteristics of being raised in an alcoholic home is having guilt feelings. As an adult child of an alcoholic, I understand what it is like to wrestle with many negative emotions. One of the things I learned from my support group is that guilt is either earned or learned and we avoid it as much as possible. Here is a good article: “How TO Cope With Guilt In Alcoholic Relationships.” […]

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