I have never suffered because of past trauma. I have suffered a lot because of the ways I adapted to past trauma. Many of the habits I formed and the strategies I used caused me to suffer.

Personal responsibility is great. But blaming myself is not great. And the primary reason I suffered in the past is not individual at all, had nothing to do with my past, didn’t even have anything to do with my adaptations, habits or strategies. The primary reason I suffered is that my families were sick. (By family I mean any strongly emotionally connected group of people.)

What makes a family sick?

Sickness is trying to control other people. Sickness is trying to control anyone’s relationship to anyone else, or anyone’s relationship to their own values, problems or goals.

Of course there are more malicious forms of manipulation, like sexual harassment. And there are less malicious forms, like trying to force an addict to stop using. Just like there are minor illnesses and fatal ones. But any attempt to control someone else is sickness.

How do you start to heal a sick family?

Stop being sick yourself. Stop making any attempt to control anyone’s relationship with anyone else. At the same time, take 100% responsibility for your own relationships to others.

No more excuses. No more excuses for anyone, including your past self, your beloved significant other, or your favorite relative. No more rationalizations, no more justifications, no more projecting. And no more blame. No more complaining, no more gossip, and no more getting allies to help you out in conflicts.

No more trying to figure out other people. No more trying to understand their character. Talk directly to them and listen. Connect. Or…don’t connect. Leave. But take 100% responsibility either way. Stay or go. No more “if you do this then I’ll do that.” No more maybes. Yes or no, stay or go.

Stop trying to control anyone or anything. If you try to control someone, you give them power over you. Because now they are taking up space in your brain. If you try to control something, you give it power over you. Because now it occupies your brain.

And when other people have power over you, you get resentful. You blame them. But you are the one who has become abusive. Your resentment has made you so. It was your attempt to control them that gave them power in the first place.

On the other hand, when you have power over other people, you make excuses for them. You feel bad for them. They seem like a victim. But in reality, they have become abusive to you. They are trying to control you. That’s what gave you leverage.

Every time you feel bad about a decision you’ve made, either the person who is making you feel guilty is abusive, or else you are projecting on to them someone who was abusive. In any case, the role they play in your life is abusive.

So stop trying to control other people and stop having power over people. The really scary people, you’ll have to leave them. But in most cases you will find that you won’t even have to leave. The abusers and their toadies will leave you. So will the codependents and the weirdos who are addicted to being the victim. Let them go.

And the people you are projecting onto? You will find that their behavior magically changes. (Actually, you changed.)

You’ll be better off, and so will everyone else around you.