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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Retiring the Blame Game

“I got this from my father’s side.” “She couldn’t have gotten it from my side of the family.” “I shouldn’t have smoked three packs a day. “If only I’d exercised more, this would have never happened.”

The blame game abounds throughout the vast community of people who have chronic health problems. Sometimes, it can cause deep chasms between family members, especially if one or another “side” of the genetic tree seems to have some link to a patient’s condition. Other times, a patient feels tremendous guilt because he or she “did something” to bring on the illness (a smoker develops COPD, for instance).

Unwitting folks who are not patients might accidentally contribute to the blame game, too, by emphasizing their opinions about how or why someone else fell ill. “You eat a lot of fatty foods, don’t you?” might be one such comment that can cause a string of guilt-ridden (or angry) thoughts in the mind of the patient suffering from heart disease, for example.

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The blame game can hurt individuals deeply, too. I’ve encountered parents who blame themselves for their children’s illnesses and carry that heavy burden with them for years. I’ve also encountered parents who do not want to acknowledge that an illness  might have a genetic component, or that any of their behavior might have contributed to a child’s illnesses.

Yes, the effects of the blame game on patients and others can be profound. But does blaming anyone help anything or anyone moving forward?  Certainly it does, if reflecting on past behavior can lead to steps that are more healthful in the future. We all need to learn from past mistakes and gather strength and courage (abundant for us in faith) to correct them and replace them with all good things.

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But when the blame game causes us to spin our wheels and dwell on the “if only…” and when it prevents us from taking charge of things that are in the here and now, it becomes something that has no purpose except to weigh us down.

Yes, it’s hard to let go of it, but what a burden is lifted when we retire the blame game! And how much more room we have for healthful and uplifting goodness!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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