Borrowed benefits and borrowed harm

14 Apr 2010


“Borrowed benefits”
is a phrase that is much used in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to describe
the cumulative benefits that come about through working in groups on personal
development issues. 

When people come together to work on their emotional baggage, everyone has
their own agenda, their own personal issue that they would like to focus on.

But they are also obliged to listen to other people talk about their issues,
feelings and challenges. 

Somehow, by being present to other people’s emotional state, they get not only
the positive outcome that they were looking for, but also the outcome that
other people were looking for. 

That is the way in which they borrow, or perhaps more correctly share benefits.

Unfortunately, the opposite can be equally true: we can experience shared harm,
also – as I only discovered very recently. 

Like a lot of parents, my father had a funny way of showing concern for us
children – that is, of course, funny-peculiar, not funny-amusing.  He did
so by painting worst case scenarios of what would happen if we did not live our
lives according to his exact prescription. 

Doubtless because of the parenting he had received, he was pretty poor at
expressing love and support.  He was far more fluent in the language of
negative emotion than he would ever be in that of positive feelings. 

He was an angry man, and it was his habit to vent his spleen particularly on a
Friday night – it must have been the thought of spending the weekend in the
bosom of his family. 

Now, as an ‘abused woman in training’, I was a very good little girl, and quite
adept at making myself as small as possible, so as to slip under his
radar.  I was not the object of his tongue-lashings, but one of my
brothers was; week after week, after week. 

Naturally, I registered the injustice of it, and quailed at the destructive
things my father said to my brother.  But I thought that I had escaped

Until a few weeks ago. 

There was a very old emotional block I’ve had throughout my adult life, which
just had not yielded to all the work I had done.  I hit it, yet again,
and trotted on through a few household tasks with my mind on ‘automatic

It must have been that semi-conscious state that allowed a new insight to

Suddenly, I heard my father's voice, screaming a truly awful thing
that he always screamed at my brother.  I realized that I had taken that
pronouncement on board, and internalized it.  I had made that
pronouncement about me. 

I can’t say what damage that pronouncement has caused my brother over the
years, because I really don’t know.  And, more likely than not, he is not
self-aware enough to know himself.  All I can say is that it was a
millstone around my neck, until the day I finally recognized it.

Once I did, I set about removing it as swiftly as possible.

I took myself into a conversation with my father.  Now, my father died 12
years ago, but that does not interfere with the possibility of holding that
conversation, inside my own head, and resolving the situation. 

In the course of that conversation, I told him how very damaging and
inappropriate his words had been all those years ago; even though
they were not directed at me.  I also told him how wrong his judgement had
been, that he could not possibly know how my life (or my brother’s) would turn
out.  I told him about the strengths, qualities and achievements that I
had acquired, that he couldn’t even begin to imagine.  And then I listened
to what he had to say.

Of course, he told me that he had said those things because he thought it was
the best way to protect my brother.  He had done, he said, the best he
could at the time. 

The conversation went back and forward between us, and gradually he began to
give ground – there are some very real advantages to having this kind of
conversation in your own head.  It creates a situation in which the other
person will, finally, hear your point of view. 

Eventually father apologised, and acknowledged the woman I am today – in
respectful terms. 

The conversation ended on a positive note.  And that block, which was
very powerful, has completely gone from my life, leaving me freer to expand
into my own power than I have ever been before.

Why do I tell you this?

Because you can do exactly the same thing, inside your head.  You can have
conversations with people that clear away your old blocks and leave you free to
grow your self-worth and your life, also.

Once upon a time, I would have been the first person to say: “you have to be
deranged to hold a conversation with a dead person (or any person who is not
physically there).”  From a rational point of view, I would have been
absolutely right, and being right would have perpetuated my block and my

In fact, it was only when I stopped being ‘rational’ and started working at
heart level that I started to really heal fast. 

Healing comes about as fast as it does, with a technique like this, because
the unconscious mind doesn’t care whether the conversation is outside, or
inside, your head.  The feelings you have are perfectly real either

Besides the unconscious mind is still holding on to an experience that stopped
being real, and stopped being current, a long, long time ago.  Since it is
no longer current, the time has come – has it not? – to treat it as no longer
relevant.  It is no longer relevant to your life.

Offer your unconscious mind, instead, a happy resolution of that old feeling,
and it will embrace it wholeheartedly, creating massive, positive change in
your present view of yourself.

I don’t know what borrowed harm you have in your life, only that you, like me,
must have some – probably rather a lot.  That borrowed harm, like all
harm, is deplorable, and it is past harm. 

Are you willing, now, to put it in the past, and create a happier present for


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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