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If you’re still carrying around some terrible story about being a bad, defective, unworthy person, please take a minute to read this blog. Our culture is big on individuals taking responsibility. Sure, it makes sense that at some point in your life you stop blaming your current problems on your history and become accountable for your actions. But what actually makes us who we are as adults?
No one as a child decides to become an angry drug user. Or a thief. Or an abusee. Or an ignorant person. So much of who we are started before we were born. For example, when you were a fetus in your mother’s womb and kept fidgeting and moving around so much that it prevented her from sleeping night after night. Was that your fault?
What happened was that a particular sperm and egg randomly got together and spawned you. It was an act of the cosmos and you, quite frankly, had nothing to do with it. There wasn’t even a “you” when the fusion happened.
Then there were the things that happened during Mom’s pregnancy—what she ate or didn’t eat, if she drank and how much, whether she had adequate prenatal care and received or followed medical advice. Was any of that your doing? Of course not.
Moving on, after your birth, we could ask these same questions and then some. Were you well cared for physically and emotionally? Was there an abundance of decency, respect and kindness in the environment you grew up in? Did you get scant help, too much help when it wasn’t needed, or just the right amount? Were you fed so that your brain and body grew healthfully? Was your education outstanding, fair or substandard?
I hope you’re getting the point here: that your genes and early environment shaped you to be the person you became and are still becoming. The bad things that happened were to you not because of you; there wasn’t that much you there to begin with. If you come from poverty, alcoholic stock or had to drop out of school to work, you were shaped by these experiences. Yes, you could make choices, but the major ones that occurred by nature and nurture were out of your hands.
Again, I’m not saying you can’t change or shouldn’t hold yourself accountable for who you are today. But the early stuff, you didn’t ask for it and you couldn’t change it. Children really have very little power over their lives in the best of circumstances. If you had less than the best, cut yourself some slack and admit that who you became isn’t your fault. You were a child of the universal crap shoot just like the rest of us.
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