BLOG APRIL 20, 2023
SELF-BLAME: WHY DO WE BLAME OURSELVES WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG?
I was having a conversation with someone and we were discussing why we blame ourselves for things that are not our fault yet we blame ourselves so I thought I would blog on this topic to give you a better understanding of why we self-blame, how it shows up and how we can we can heal from toxic self-blaming.
Self-blame isn’t a bad thing. It’s the guilt or shame that keeps us from hurting others and lets us learn from our mistakes. It helps us to be more empathetic toward one another.
How many of you blame yourself when something goes wrong even when it’s not your fault? Have you ever asked yourself this question?
Many of us have the tendency to form unhealthy attachments to our emotions, and feelings such as guilt, shame, and self-mistakes and wrongdoings. When we don’t let them go and we hold onto these negative emotions, this only causes us pain.
I recently blamed myself about something that was not my fault. I did nothing wrong, yet I thought I did. I went a little deeper and asked myself why do I think this way. I’ve done this most of my life. I have felt shame, blame, and criticized myself unjustly to the point of not feeling enough or worthy. Does this sound familiar?
If you come from a dysfunctional family, negative self-blame starts in childhood. A child is conditioned from an early age to take on responsibility and ownership for things that aren’t theirs. Children are not capable of seeing the flaws and wounds of their caregivers.
They don’t have the ability to see beyond themselves, so blaming someone else isn’t possible. This blame is turned inward. This is a heavy burden for a child to carry.
Children who experience trauma, sexual or physical abuse or didn’t get the attention from their caregiver, were not allowed or were afraid to feel hurt, anger, enraged, betrayed, abandoned, rejected, and more. If they were allowed to feel these emotions, they usually didn’t receive the proper soothing and mental resolution to be able to heal and move one. Blaming one’s self is a common response in people who have a traumatic experience.
If childhood trauma is not addressed people are prone to self-blame and this can manifest in a range of emotional, behavioral, personal, and social problems which can lead to low self-esteem, chronic self-criticism, magical and irrational thinking, chronic self-doubt, lack self-love and self-care, feelings of toxic shame, guilt, and anxiety.
Self-blame ultimately manifests into “I’m not good enough” or “I’m unlovable”. When we have unrealistic standards growing up, we internalize these judgments and standards and begin to see ourselves this way. This is negative energy we carry around. When you blame yourself for everything, it is toxic self-criticism.
When we self-blame, we become disconnected from reality. This belief that something is wrong or missing when things don’t go as planned is a predictor of anxiety, anger and depression. If you believe that you’re to blame for everything bad that happens big or small, and have the feeling that everything is your fault, this creates unhealthy self-blame and you can be predisposition to toxic self-criticism. If a person is overly criticized, unjustly blamed, and held up to unrealistic standards, they begin to think they are bad, worthless or not good enough.
If you are chronically self-blaming, you may think you will always fail or that you can never do anything right. This thinking makes you feel like you’re always incorrect or others know better. If something isn’t perfect, everything is perceived as bad. All of these thoughts lead to chronic self-doubt.
If you are in a romantic or personal relationship, often abuse can be looked at as normal behavior, and are unable to resolve conflicts. This leads to unhealthy relationship. You may have interpersonal problems like codependency, people pleasing, learned helplessness, Stockholm syndrome, poor boundaries and the inability to say no.
People with a tendency to self-blame often struggle with overwhelming or other painful and intrusive emotions. Most common is loneliness, confusion, lack of motivation, aimlessness, paralysis, overwhelmed or constant alertness.
I invite you to be curious and see why you do this to yourself.
If you can identify these issues and their origins, you can start working towards overcoming them and bring inner peace and satisfaction in your life.
I invite you to ask yourself these questions to help you understand where your self-blame originates from.
Is your self-blame unhealthy?
What stories are you telling yourself?
How are you relating to what’s going on?
How are you relating to yourself?
What’s going on when you are harsh and judgmental?
Where are you impatient and demeaning?
How does this make you feel?
How much does self-blame impact you.
How does it separate you from others and from experiences you want to have in your life?
What would your life be like if you could eliminate unhealthy self-blame and finally trust who you are?
Here’s some ways to break the cycle of self-blame?
Having self-compassion and being kind to yourself can break
the cycle of self-blame.
Self-compassion is a powerful antidote to self-blame.
Take responsibility instead of blaming yourself. Learn the difference in what is your responsibility and your actions instead of always blaming yourself for an outcome.
Reframe your thoughts.
Seek another perspective. Instead of saying what did I do wrong? Try saying what could I have done differently?
Change the story you tell yourself.
Let go of the past.
Stop your thoughts in the moment and practice being present.
Focus on what you can control.
Stop being critical of yourself.
Get help or counseling if you need it.