I have changed, These days when I hear people blaming their cat, dog, father, mother, karma, I run. There was once a time I use to feel sorry for the person. Then, I’d feel guilty if I did not try to help or at least listen to their tales of woe. But not anymore, I know most people who indulge in the blame game don’t want to do the work of making changes, they just want you to carry their shit for them.
Blame is the first cousin of guilt. It affects our sense of worth and how we view the world. We suffer from low self-worth and low self-esteem, depression. We feel something is not right about us, we feel we are being constantly judged by others and end up feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility just to avoid the feeling bad. That we should fix things.
Child Abuse and Guilt
When we come from homes that held us responsible for the bad things that happen in life, guilt becomes part of our DNA. To avoid responsibility for his behavior, my father blamed us kids when my mother got sicker. To counter that I tried to be the good daughter, the nice girl. I grew up feeling responsible and feeling guilty for just about everything. A child does not have any other point of reference than her parent’s to confirm the truth of a situation. Being innocent and pure they unconsciously believe that the abuse is “my fault” and that “my horrible behavior” is the cause. I grew up thinking that if I repress my feeling, don’t cause trouble by becoming invisible and by being the good girl I could stop bad things happening to everyone.
The Guilt Imprint
This continued right into my adult relationships. I learned to put my feelings into a box. Everyone else’s pain was bigger. I did not matter. When this aunt would spew her marital woes into my 11-year-old ears, I felt I had to help ease her pain. I listened and listened and listened till one day I realized ‘Hey, don’t I get a chance to talk.’ I am going through so much pain too. Had I known then that we are not responsible for other people’s shit? That they need to work out on their own shadow stuff, anger issues, neediness, martyrdom or whatever it is bothering them. They need to take constructive action. Not offload their pain as a way to ease it. I had to change my childhood imprint of guilt and learn to build healthy boundaries.
Iyanla Vanzant: Don’t Make Someone Else’s Crazy About You
Building Boundaries Without Guilt
We need to stop taking on burdens that are not our responsibility. And, we have to stop being the cook, the helper, the butler and therapist to needy people. We need to get out of our codependency trap. Further, we need to learn self-love and self-care. That it is okay to say ‘No’. We don’t have to give explanations. Our lives are important. We are not here to fulfill the needs of anyone. Our first duty is to ourselves. We don’t need to feel guilty about setting boundaries to protect ourselves. We have a right to our emotions, likes, and dislikes.
Guilt has no place in our lives if we want to be truly happy. We need to get over our past and stop holding on to our ingrained negative patterns. We owe it to ourselves to take charge and be responsible for our own happiness and wellbeing. We have to stop feeling guilty for making myself my first priority.