3 Tips to Rid Yourself of Guilt After Family Visits

Surviving Guilt after a Family Visit

Insanity! Guilt! Stress! This is how my client Melody described her recent visit with her family back home. She feels there are “lots of family issues swirling around” that could simply be fixed. Guilt is a red-flag warning of obligations and duty, and is the opposite of joy and a true desire. Next time you feel guilty, stop and use these 3 coaching techniques to minimize your frustration.


Be done fixing and listen. Active listening is more than just paying attention. It is engaging and helping them feel heard. You can reflect back what you heard by rephrasing and summarizing their key point or points. Remember to ask clarifying questions like, “It seems like you are feeling really frustrated and really stuck right now. Is there anything in particular that makes you feel that way?” The key is to show them you are giving them your listening heart! Oh and don’t forget to make eye contact. Nothing feels worse than when you are trying to talk to someone and they are looking at their phone or impatiently looking away for you to be “done” talking.

Give compassion

When conflict arises and we are feeling frustrated with family and friends, the last thing we want to do is to be “nice” to them.  Respond to their emotion, not the actual words. Words of anger may conceal fear; guilt may hide behind blame. When you try to refute a family member’s angry literal words, they can become more insistent and often angrier. When you try to understand and respond to the underlying emotion, they will begin to trust you and open up. This 2 minute video by a World War II Veteran shows that we can find caring compassion in the worst of situations.

Surviving Guilt after a Family Visit

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Dalai Lama 

Don’t give advice

Years ago, I learned from Jennifer Corbin, the President of my coaching school, that “advice without permission is criticism.” I can vividly remember the moment I told my sister Michele, “I love it when you tie your hair back in a ponytail. You could do that more often.” Her response was “You don’t like my hair?” Yes, advice given by her big sister felt like criticism because she did not ask me for suggestions about her hair. This may feel like a little thing but if you are on the receiving end it is a big thing. Feeling judged feels hurtful!

Be done fixing and giving advice and just listen. You could say, “I cannot fix this for you but I hear what you are saying.” You are the expert of only your life and they are the expert of theirs. We have to remember that some family members love to complain but do not want to change no matter what!  Create a compassionate game plan for your next visit home and you will enjoy your family more. Dump guilt. Live joy! You have one life to live, just imagine it was one you loved!

What is your family visit game plan? We would love to hear from you.


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