Recognition of what is not your responsibility is as important as realizing what you are responsible for. It is necessary to let go of the responsibility for the painful events of your childhood and put it where it belongs. Visualise the little and helpless Child that you were (perhaps with the help of a childhood photograph) and say out loud to that child:
'You were not responsible for...'
1. The way they ignored or neglected you
2. The way they made you feel unloved or unlovable
3. Their cruel or thoughtless teasing
4. The bad names they called you
5. Their unhappiness
6. Their problems
7. Their choice not to do anything about their problems
8. What they did when they were drinking
9. Their hitting you
10. Their molesting you.
Add any other painful, repetitive experiences that you have always felt responsible for.
The second part of this exercise involves assigning the responsibility where it belongs to the parents. To do this, address the Child within, and repeat every applicable item on the above list, but precede it now with the words:
'My parents were responsible for....'
Again, add anything that is relevant to your personal experience.
Putting responsibility where it realistically belongs squarely on your parents' shoulders does not give you license to excuse all your self-defeating behaviors by saying 'It was all their fault'. The following list will help you to focus on some of your Adult responsibilities, as they apply to your relationship to your parents. Say out loud:
'As an adult, in relationship to my parents, I am responsible for...
1. Becoming a separate individual from my parents
2. Looking honestly at my relationship with them
3. Facing the truth about my childhood
4. Having the courage to acknowledge the connections between events of my childhood and my adult life
5. Gaining the courage to express my real feelings to them
6. Confronting and diminishing the power and control they have over my life, whether they are alive or dead
7. Changing my own behavior when it is imitative of my parents manipulative, critical or hurtful ways
8. Reclaiming my Adult power and confidence.
Some of these goals may be easier than others, but they are all attainable; you can free the Child within you from perpetual punishment.
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