Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blame And Resentment Are Toxic Emotions

Right now I am reading the book "The Secret of the Shadow, The Power of Owning Your Whole Story" written by Debbie Ford. This is the second of Debbie's books that I have read. The first was a few years ago and called "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers."

On page 88 Debbie says,
"Blame and resentment are the toxic emotions that keep us stuck inside the smallness of our stories. Woven throughout our personal dramas is an underlying conversation that might sound like this: 'Look what you did to me. You screwed up my life. I'm a nothing just like you'; or 'I'm never going to amount to anything---just like you told me.' We hold others responsible for our deficiencies and then set out to prove that we have in fact been ill treated and wronged. Our 'poor me' story becomes our evidence, proving that we've been mistreated, neglected, or abused. And every time we fall short of doing our best, we have the perfect alibi. We get to say, 'If I hadn't had that angry father, lousy girlfriend, alcoholic mother, or been raped, molested, beaten, ignored, abandoned, called names, I wouldn't be like this!' Then we use every failure, every disappointment, every broken relationship or botched business deal to support our conviction that we have been victimized. We continually sabotage our efforts toward success and happiness in order to hold on to our resentment and keep our stories intact. Our continued failures and misery prove to us that we are right and those we blame are wrong."

On page 89 Debbie goes on to say, "The people we blame offer a perfect excuse for our self-sabotage. We are unconsciously punishing them by not being as successful or as happy as we could be. We say, either verbally or nonverbally, 'Look, I really am a failure. You really did hurt me.' "

Are any of you doing this with your story of abuse and pain? Are you allowing your story to keep you from living your dreams, from fulfilling your purpose in life, from being who you were really meant to be?

I am less than half-way through the book and Debbie Ford has given me a lot to think about. What I have learned so far also adds to one of my recent articles "Quit Playing Small And Insignificant" ( ) in that our stories can keep us living a very limited life where we don't use all of our abilities and talents because we feel inferior, wounded, damaged, victimized.

In staying stuck in our stories of victimization, we refuse to live a full life. We believe we are victims and we resent those who abused, ignored or abandoned us. We don't feel confident in ourselves. We see ourselves as failing because we hold on to our fears of inadequacy and unworthiness.

What have I learned from this book so far? Quit playing out the victim role of my story. Accept full responsibility for who I am, for where I am going. See and accept the blessings that have come out of my story of abuse and pain. We all have blessings that can come out of our past.

I know that I would not be as strong-willed, as compassionate, as vocal about child abuse without my story. With all of that, my story is not who I am.


Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia,

I love how you ended your post..." my story is not who I am."

This post has so much truth in it. Debbie Ford is a phenomenal author. Her words are powerful, and have undoubtedly helped many. I love how she makes us really think.

Patricia Singleton said...

Barbara, before I even knew about Debbie Ford's book, I wrote a post back in January called "My Stories Are A Point of Reference." You will find it at . I am finding so much great information in Debbie's book as I continue to read.

Evan said...

I'm not sure that it is helpful to label some emotions as bad ("toxic"), anger is another favourite.

This can lead to people not listening to them. And I think all our emotions contain information if we are willing to listen to them.

Getting stuck in them is another matter. If labelling them as bad helps this I guess it provides a useful service.

And it is surely true that we are more than our stories and that we have developed strengths and abilities from dealing with the bad stuff.

Patricia Singleton said...

Evan, I agree with the idea that labeling the emotions themselves as bad is not usually a good idea. What holding on to those emotions can do to you is what can be toxic. They can destroy your self-worth and your health. Thanks for your comment.