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Personal Growth: Blame Your Parents for Your Problems

Do you blame yourself for your problems?

In my last post, I described the differences between needs, which ensure your psychological and emotional survival and growth, and needs which arise from the neuroses, pathologies, and just plain whims of your parents and the environment and culture in which you are raised and have likely caused you considerable unhappiness and dysfunction in your life.

One of the most painful aspects of needs is that you may blame yourself for not getting your needs sufficiently met as a child, thus turning them into needs. You may have come to believe that you didn’t deserve having your life-affirming needs met by your parents in a healthy way: you didn’t feel that you deserved to be loved and valued, feel safe and secure, or see yourself as a competent person. These perceptions may have created in you a profound sense of inadequacy. Through your efforts to meet those needs in childhood and into adulthood, you have been attempting to prove your worth and demonstrate that you do, indeed, deserve to have your needs met.

Let me say something as emphatically as I can that I hope will lighten the load that you may have been carrying for so many years: It's Not Your Fault. Why your needs as a child became needs had nothing to do with you. Do you know whose fault it really was? Your parents. It was their needs that caused them to not meet your needs and that led your needs to become needs. My gosh, you were just this helpless little child that only wanted to feel loved and safe and didn’t do anything to deserve such treatment.

So here is another thing I encourage you to do: Blame Your Parents for what they did to you. Whoa, you might think, that doesn’t sound like a healthy or mature way of dealing with your problems. You may say, I’m an adult now and isn’t it childish to blame my parents for things that happened so many years ago?

My response: No and yes.

I stand by my statement that you should blame your parents. You may have carried around an immense burden of self-blame, and shame, for years and you can’t just take it off of your shoulders. Instead, you have to pass that burden onto those who rightly deserve it. Your parents. They treated you in a way that you didn’t deserve and you suffered for it, that is the simple reality.

But it is not that simple. I don’t make this recommendation to suggest that they are bad people or that they deserve your everlasting enmity. They probably didn’t treat you as they did intentionally. They likely treated you poorly because of who they were, not who you were. One thing that people often forget is that parents are human beings too and they may very well have been victims of their own parents and the environment they grew up in. Reality becomes a lot more complicated when you recognize that your parents, like most parents, passed on their needs to you—a form of heredity that isn’t genetic—because they were their needs also and they probably passed them to you without awareness or understanding.

So blame your parents for the way you are; it is their fault and you shouldn’t have to carry that burden of blame and shame. But then forgive them. The complicated reality that I just mentioned is that your parents most likely loved you and, despite appearances, wanted what was best for you. They may very well have done the best they could with what they had. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough and it put your life inertia on an unhealthy trajectory. But that was then and this is now, so don’t keep blaming them and holding them responsible for who you are now. You are an adult and continuing to hold them accountable for your life is not only childish, but it’s also counterproductive; it doesn’t change your needs back to needs and it doesn’t help you change the course of your life in a healthy direction.

You didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were treated and you don’t deserve it now. But it’s not your parents who are treating you badly now, it’s you. It is your life inertia—your thoughts, emotions, and actions aimed at fulfilling your needs—that continue to propel you down a bad path. So, being angry at your parents or trying to change them now isn’t going to help you (you won’t be able to change them anyway). You have to change yourself by taking responsibility for who you are now. You must make a commitment to let go of your needs and reconnect with your needs. Lastly, you must ensure that, though your life may not have been of your choosing as a child or on the path you have wanted up to this point in adulthood, you can alter your life inertia so that is on the course you want for the rest of your life.

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