It was her second session with the new psychotherapist after she moved to London. She already felt safe with a counsellor and was ready to open up with a clear goal for the therapy. While sitting in the chair, she was listing in one breath with full awareness all her suffering and emotional issues that she couldn’t stand because they made her life so much harder. When she finally finished naming her struggles, silence fell. After a few seconds she heard the therapist’s voice talking to her slowly and clearly, looking deep into her eyes: ‘You’re not to blame. It’s not your fault’. She burst into tears, she couldn’t stop crying… These were words that she needed to hear so badly. She realised that nobody before has told her this as loud and clear. She knew it wasn’t her fault and that she is not responsible for the root of her current difficulties; however she needed to hear that from outside, as a kind of emotional liberation. It was one of the most important sentences she heard in her adult life during the recovery of her emotional wounds and traumas.

What we are not to blame for?

It’s not your fault whatever happened to you as a vulnerable child in your childhood.

Children always blame themselves when they suffer because of adults. If for example a child is dismissed or ignored it assumes that it deserves to be treated that way and that there must be something wrong with it. As adults we still unconsciously believe it, therefore it might take many years of insightful self-observation and work on ourselves to realise that as children we weren’t guilty and the harm was undeserved. I remember my psychotherapist saying that it’s never child’s fault which is 2, 5, 11 or even 14 years old. Parents are fully responsible for both their and their child’s emotions and behaviours. Children are only vulnerable subjects of adults, condemned to any kind of circumstances and factors that happen around them, without the possibility to question, protect themselves, escape or sometimes even without an awareness of a better reality excisting anywhere else.

It’s not our fault if we witnessed or were victims of physical, sexual or psychological abuse. We’re not to blame us if one of our parents was physically or emotionally unavailable. We can’t feel guilty for reluctance of attending to school, poor grades or for being bullied by peers. It’s not our fault that our parents had too high expectations towards us, or were critical, strict, volatile, humiliating, overprotective or ignoring our physical and psychological needs. You’re not to blame that as a girl you were taught to be compliant and showing anger wasn’t acceptable. You’re not to blame you that as a boy you were instilled that it’s a shame to cry or feel fear. You can’t blame yourself that your parents had certain requirements for your future, therefore blackmail you into education and career that doesn’t align with your natural talents or interests.

How our childhood affects our adulthood?

not your fault

If we could separate with one straight line childhood from adulthood, I wouldn’t be writing this article. Yet the problem is that our adulthood is determined hugely both positively and negatively by our childhood, our parents and environment around us:

As you grew into adulthood, these seeds grew into invisible weeds that invaded your life in ways you never dreamed of. Their tendrils may have harmed your relationships, your career, or your family; they have certainly undermined your self-confidence and self-esteem (Toxic Parents, Susan Forward).

This whole baggage of the past throws us into automatic thinking mode and trained way of acting – schemas that were useful for us as a child to survive but are expired since we opted out from parental dependence. We can have a seemingly good life but at the same time have the feeling that there’s something missing. We have tendency to get involved in unhealthy romantic relationships or friendships. We work in a job that we’re not passionate about, and we still haven’t found our zone. We’re constantly escaping from ourselves and from emotions that we feel overwhelmed with. We don’t love ourselves enough and we are the harshest judge of ourselves. We allow other to cross our boundaries and we step over their borders too. We believe in unverified opinions about the world, people and ourselves. We have low self-esteem, we sabotage our actions, we lack of self-confidence, we are afraid of authorities, we wear masks most of the time, we avoid intimacy with others and we find it extremely difficult to show care and kindness to oneself. All these issues we struggle with are not our fault, because they are somewhat shades of wounded child from the past. Now, this child in the package of an adult tries very hard to cope and compensate often in an unhealthy way unmet needs from the childhood.

Acceptance and empathy to oneself

Acceptance includes identifying, understanding the root, acknowledging and resign with what happened in our childhood. This can be a long process and we shouldn’t try to speed it up. First of all, let’s give ourselves a full acceptance of our wounded part. Welcome that part of you as it is now, try not to judge yourself, because everything is perfectly fine with you.

not your fault

Empathy means noticing emotional wounds and looking after them, almost like putting a band-aid on injured parts. Give yourself permission for all kinds of feelings that arise, remembering that there are no wrong emotions. Stay with feelings, experience them. Allow yourself to be sad and to cry. Don’t avoid anger because it has a right to be there. Try to give yourself the best care, kindness, compassion and self-soothe. Treat yourself as your best friend and give yourself enough time for the healing process and emotional grief over your past experiences.

Responsibility

Acceptance and empathy toward oneself is not aimed to justify our current detrimental behaviours to ourselves or other people. It is rather about showing empathy and care of our inner harmed child and at the same time becoming aware that we don’t have to be sufferers of our past forever. We can have a significant impact on our present by taking responsibility for our lives. Obviously, realising that it’s not our fault is one thing, and taking responsibility for our present life is another thing. Some people delight in blaming all people around (parents, employer, government) for their failures and get emotional ‚benefits’ from learned helplessness.

not your fault

Whereas mature approach means taking actions to break imprint maladaptive schemas and heal parts that has been broken not because of us. For me the best cure is psychotherapy. But that’s not all: read books, watch wise people, meditate, become insightful by observing yourself, write down your thoughts and feelings. With all these things, keep telling to yourself: ‘I’m not to blame, it’s not my fault’.

‚You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark side inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are’ (Sirius Black, Harry Potter).

Ani - Liberal Rebel