Blame is associated with anger and hostility. And holding onto grudges only leads to negativity. But did you know that perpetually blaming yourself is even worse? Your happiness is detrimentally affected when you appoint too much blame on yourself.
Learning to recognize the difference between healthy personal responsibility and unhealthy self-blame is crucial for your well-being. Not everything is your fault, but you are more susceptible to depressive emotions when you live like it is.
This article will discuss blame and the impact of blaming yourself. We will also provide 5 actionable tips to help you stop blaming yourself.
What is self-blame?
When we appoint blame, we point the finger as to who we think is responsible for a negative outcome.
We use our judgment to decide who is at fault and place the responsibility of any wrongdoing at their feet.
When we blame others, we simultaneously release our frustration and protect ourselves.
But what happens when we blame ourselves?
Self-blame is when we take more than our fair share of responsibility and blame ourselves for every mishap, regardless of whether it is our fault.
This study examines parents' propensity to self-blame for their teenage children's mental health diagnoses. The researchers found that self-blame is correlated with lower psychological well-being.
How is self-blame harmful?
We hold ourselves down when we blame ourselves for situations or circumstances that are beyond our control. As a result, we keep ourselves stuck in a negative cycle.
We know that blameful behavior is particularly unhealthy in a relationship. And while it is never pleasant to be the recipient of someone's blame, being the perpetrator of blame may cause even more suffering.
This study found that self-blaming emotions are strongly associated with depressive mood disorders. Self-blaming is often found alongside feelings of inadequacy and helplessness. Therefore as part of effective treatment for depression, it is beneficial to learn how to stop blaming ourselves.
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5 ways to stop blaming yourself
Not everything is your fault. It can't possibly be. But when you continually blame yourself, you weigh yourself down with negative energy. This negativity makes it almost impossible to lead a fulfilling and happy life.
If you recognize this self-blaming trait in yourself, now is a great time to address it. Here are 5 ways to help you stop blaming yourself.
1. Take responsibility instead of blaming yourself
Learn to differentiate between owning responsibility for your actions and blaming yourself for an outcome.
Personal accountability is healthy. It allows us to function optimally in our relationships and take responsibility for our flaws.
Sometimes we mix with people who don't have such well-developed blame skills. Toxic relationships where others wrongfully blame us may cause us to adopt this habit ourselves.
For a long time, I blamed myself for an almost estranged relationship with my sister. This self-blame meant I felt responsible for fixing things. Yet, all attempts have been met with hostility.
I now recognize it takes 2 to tango. I have stopped blaming myself, and while I take full responsibility for my part, our relationship will remain damaged until my sister stops blaming me and takes responsibility for her part.
2. Learn self-compassion
Self-compassion is a crucial step to stop blaming yourself. If you want to change how you attribute blame, you must learn to be kinder to yourself.
This act of self-kindness can be a challenging learning process if you are not used to it.
Here are a few ideas to help with this journey.
- Start writing a journal and highlight something positive about yourself each day.
- Write a letter to yourself as if you were a friend.
- Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy a section of time each day, as discussed in our article on self-soothing.
- Write as many positive things about yourself as possible within 1 minute.
- Speak to yourself as if you were your own best friend.
Go easy on yourself. Remember, if you wouldn't say it to a friend, don't say it to yourself.
If you need more help in this regard, here's an article about how to stop being negative about yourself.
3. Reframe your thoughts
When we blame ourselves, our thoughts may sound something like this:
- He wouldn't have left me if I had been a better partner.
- It's all my fault that I've been made redundant.
Reframing your thoughts changes them slightly, so they have a different feel.
- Perhaps there are things I could have done better as a partner, but there are also things he could have done as a husband. Ultimately, we led an unhappy relationship, and perhaps this separation is for the best, while I appreciate it will be a tough time.
- My company needs to adapt to the financial crisis. I was the last one in; it makes sense that I was made redundant. I could not have prevented this.
Can you see the difference in the sound of our thoughts for these 2 circumstances? Next time you recognize yourself jumping to self-blaming thoughts, see if you can reframe them.
4. Seek another perspective
Being stuck in our heads can be a lonely place.
They say a problem shared is a problem halved, which is true. Sometimes when we open up and share our thoughts with people, we trust they can help us see a different perspective.
One of my closest friends recently highlighted that I take too much responsibility for my poor relationship with my sister. I didn't realize how much I blamed myself, but she highlighted this to me. Without her help, I wouldn't have seen my destructive thought patterns.
When we open up to people we trust, they can help us learn to stop blaming ourselves inappropriately.
5. Invite calmness in your mind
This self-blame tendency is all part of an overactive brain. The blaming part of our brain wins when we listen to it and don't do anything to quiet it.
It is a skill to know how to calm our brain and quieten our thoughts. Here are a few ways to start building a calm habit.
- Start a weekly yoga habit.
- Learn to meditate.
- Spend time in nature.
- Take time to sit peacefully and lose yourself in a book.
- Engross yourself in a film.
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While personal responsibility is admirable, high levels of self-blame are damaging. A healthy and fulfilling life is one with balanced self-responsibility and self-blame.
Have you found a way to balance taking responsibility for your actions and being kind to yourself? I would love to hear if you have any tricks up your sleeve to stop blaming yourself. Let us all know in the comments below!