Claim the Power, Not the Guilt

Nov 11, 2010 by

Claim the Power, Not the Guilt

I’d like to take a moment to offer some sympathy and relief to anyone who has ever been made to feel guilty about their health problems due to a certain New Age “this is your fault” mentality. Eek! My question is: do we really have to take the “blame” for our problems in order to claim our power?

I think NOT. Reclaiming our power and taking the blame are two separate issues, and I want to put that out there because I think blame attitudes are not only hurtful, they are incredibly UN-helpful on the path to healing.

When someone has a problem, sure, their habits contributed to the issue, but if they knew another way to be they wouldn’t be that way! In other words, their habits and complex life experiences may have contributed to the condition, but that doesn’t make it their fault.Photo Credit Brian Auer

Donna Eden, author of the best-selling book Energy Medicine once made a comment on the topic that stayed with me. She said,

“Your illness is NOT your fault, but your healing IS your responsibility.”

I remember hearing that at the time, and feeling the words sink into my heart. Donna’s comment acknowledges that while we have tremendous power to heal ourselves, we don’t need to feel guilty about “causing” an illness we would have never consciously elected to have.

Lets think of another example that doesn’t involve illness to illustrate the point. Say you have a ten year-old boy who is just learning to ride a bike, and he’s stressed about it. You want to encourage that kid that he WILL be able to ride that bike, that riding a bike it easy once you get the hang of it, that his body was MADE to do this. You keep encouraging him, no matter how much he falls, you tell him this is normal, and that he is doing great.

Of course you don’t ask the boy “why didn’t you start learning how to ride a bike when you were three?” or tell him he’s way behind his classmates. Telling him that his bike is in bad shape, or that he’s a little old to be using training wheels isn’t going to help. After he falls off once, you don’t say, “Hey, riding a bike is so easy. Humans are made to do this? Why can’t you?!”

It seems cruel to talk to a child this way, yet some people in healthcare will take a similarly guilt-centered approach with their clients. Now the individual not only has a health problem, they have a draining guilt-complex to go with it. Not fair! And not helpful!

When a person has unhealthy habits, it is likely that they learned some of those habits as a tiny child before they knew any better or any differently. Likewise, the habits we form as adults usually arise from an attempt to adapt, survive and cope with our stresses as best as we can. We are all doing out best, and we ALL can use help sometimes in sorting ourselves out. There need be no shame in that.

So if you could visualize a person who needs healing like that little boy on a bike, you might discover, metaphorically speaking, that that child never had a backyard growing up in which to ride a bike, that perhaps his father didn’t know how to ride a bike himself so he never tried to find ways to teach his son, but that this brave child, at any age he is, is stepping up to the plate to try to do something no one in his family has done. Looked at from that angle, this child is really a hero!

When a client comes to me with a source of discomfort, this is the way I like to see them. I see them as a brave soul, doing the best they can with what they have experienced in their life. Then the fun comes when they start learning how much healing power they have hidden away in their bodies! They are amazed when they discover how they can use simple techniques to vastly change their health, their moods, their hang-ups, and their entire relationship to life.

Learning you can heal yourself is a landmark experience. You get a sense of hopeful empowerment that is so much more healing than guilt motivation, and you never want to go back.

As human beings, we have an infinite, in-born capacity to change, grow and heal. And when we step up to the plate for healing, we all deserve respect and compassion.

With love and encouragement,


Photo Credits:

Boy on bike: Brian Auer @ Flickr

Healing: True2Source @ Flickr


  1. Donna Morask

    Emily, This for me is something I often try to work through with many of my clients. Your words echo I truth I know from experience as I attempted to come to grips with my own diagnosis of depression. People love to see this as “their own fault” and often view it as a choice.
    These words….. “As human beings, we have an infinite, in-born capacity to change, grow and heal. And when we step up to the plate for healing, we all deserve respect and compassion.”
    These so very powerful words are filled with the love and encouragement that keeps me returning to the plate. Thank you.

  2. Emily, thank you for this. Illness became a part of my life when I was 15. I did experience the type of ‘new age’ blame for my condition that you refer to. On a number of occasions people, who I respected (I was giving my respect a little too freely 🙂 ) told me that if I was ill, it must be because I wanted to be.
    40 years later I arrived at a self-loving, compassionate understanding that ways in which I had looked at life had been a major contribution to creating a life that revolved around trying to maintain some sort of balance with a body that was apparently unhealthy. When this understanding came, it was with a bit of trepidation that I sidled up next to it, but as I did, it was like putting on a glove that fit so very, very well.
    For me, the unhealthy diet was one of thought. Now, with the same compassion that I saw this, I get to choose, day by day, the thoughts I wish to digest to support the experience of health. And on the days, I don’t choose so well, I get to meet myself with tenderness and know that I will continue to make very good choices, even though at times I don’t.
    No blame was ever needed to bring me to this understanding. It was kindness and self-love, and trust in friends who love me very skillfully that were catalysts.
    It is so empowering to come to understand how much influence we have over our experience. Thank you, for writing about this with the understanding that blame is not necessary, tenderness is.