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  • Writer's pictureHolly-Marie St. Pierre

It's Not Blame-- It's Healing (And it will improve your self-esteem and relationships)

Woman talking to a Psychotherapist

I work mainly with women who are dealing with unfulfilling or abusive relationships. Often the root of their problem is low self-esteem due to negative or stressful experiences with their primary caregivers growing up. It's an important part of improving her self-esteem and how she interacts in her relationships. As we work together and we begin to uncover these unpleasant or even traumatic experiences, almost inevitably, some part of my client will start to feel uncomfortable.

They begin to backpedal because they're feeling guilty. Most times I hear some version of the following, "But, my parents did the best they could. I don't want to blame them." Or "My parents are old now and in failing health. I don't want to be mad at them." I get that. When you have a relationship or at least frequent interactions with your primary caregivers it's really uncomfortable holding something against them.

The thing is though, you are probably already holding something (maybe many things) against them. As long as you choose not to acknowledge how those experiences landed for you emotionally, they're going to remain stuck right there in your mind and body causing you some kind of grief or awkwardness.

Woman of color experiencing emotional and/or physical distress

Worse, if you choose to suppress those emotions, you should know you could set yourself up for the possibility of a variety of bad health outcomes. In Gabor Mate's book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, the author shares shocking research that some autoimmune and cancer diagnoses as well as ALS are linked to suppression of emotions--notably anger. You might be thinking, "But, doesn't it show strength of character when one contains anger?"

A lioness displaying anger

We receive a variety of messages in this culture that encourage us to just be positive and let anger go. But how do you do that? Can you just will your anger away? The many, many people I have worked with over the years would say it's not that easy. And from my own personal experience, I wholeheartedly agree. But it's important to find a healthy way to express and honor the anger you feel. Like all of our emotions, it is there to help and guide us. Changing the paradigm about anger takes some work and involves discomfort. It's helpful to have a guide in difficult territory.

If this is an area where you're experiencing stuckness or struggle and you would like some support, send me a note or give me call. Either myself or someone in my referral network can help.

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