Blame versus responsibility is the difference between emotional childhood and emotional adulthood according to Brooke Castillo (How to feel Better Workshop).
Emotional childhood is when we blame events, or other people, for the things that are wrong in our life. This kind of thinking leaves us feeling disempowered and helpless.
For example; If it is Mary’s fault, we are feeling bad, or it’s because something happened to us in childhood that we are feeling bad, or a certain event is the reason we feeling bad ……… then there is no way we can feel better unless we change our past, or change someone else. And neither of these things are ever going to happen.
Therefore, if we stay with this blame/emotional childhood way of thinking, then we are trapped feeling bad forever. Because we are dependant on the external world to make us feel good, or feel bad.
Emotional adulthood, on the other hand, is when we take full responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings. This allows us to be in control of our own lives.
For example, Mary might say something horrible to us. But we get to choose what thoughts we have about that. And those thoughts will determine how we feel. We could think “People who have low self-worth often try and put other people down, in an attempt to make themselves feel better”. With this thought, our feelings might be compassionate, instead of hurt.
Another example is if we had a shitty childhood. We get to choose the thoughts we have about that. Our thought could be “I had a shitty childhood, but it has made me the strong and resourceful person I am today”. With this thought we would probably feel strong and empowered rather than a weak and angry. In this way we are taking ownership of our own thoughts and feelings.
We might argue, what if a person hurt us really badly, or an event caused us to be in a wheelchair? The answer is still the same. Blaming the event, or person will not serve us well. It will not change the person or the event. It will just make us feel disempowered and helpless. If we think like a victim, we give all of the power of making ourselves feel good (or feel bad) to the person/event that hurt us.
“No matter what happens in the world, no matter what has ever happened to you, no matter what anyone says to you, you are the one who manages how you feel, and when you own that, that’s true emotional adulthood. True emotional adulthood leaves you feeling empowered”
When we take responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings, then we are being emotional adults. It’s not always easy. In fact, remaining in emotional childhood and being dependant on others to make us happy, is usually the easy option short-term. But the pay-off when we take responsibility and be emotional adults is that we get to be in control of our own lives.
Written by Lynda Timperley Btch, Dip psych, Cert life Coaching
Member Anzcal (Australian and New Zealand Coaching Alliance)
Acknowledgement: Brooke Castillo. The Life Coaching School. How to Feel Better workshop.