It’s important for us to take responsibility for ourselves. Often, we want to be fully aware of how we contribute to our own difficulties. After all, if we don’t reflect on our personal limitations, we deprive ourselves of important opportunities to change and grow. However, sometimes we become too prone to criticizing and blaming ourselves. Consequently, we sometimes end up overplaying our negative role. If this is your pattern, you might be wondering why you do this, and feeling helpless to break your unproductive pattern.
Thankfully, there are concrete things you can do to reduce your tendency toward self-blame. Instead, you can develop a healthier method of evaluating yourself. In this guide, we’ll look at how you can stop blaming yourself by working through seven steps that challenge your assumptions and change your thinking. Throughout, we’ll discuss the roots of self-doubt and self-recrimination. Plus, we’ll offer concrete examples that help you to understand how you can apply these personal development tips to your life.
Why Do We Blame Ourselves?
There are many different reasons why we might blame ourselves excessively and fault ourselves for things that are actually beyond our control. However, there are certain common life experiences that promote self-blame.
Guilt From Childhood Experiences
In particular, blaming yourself for everything is often rooted in your early life. These lessons may be contained within the messages you received growing up. For example, you may have been raised to take on large amounts of responsibility (e.g. caring for siblings or caring for ailing relatives). This can leave you with an inflated sense of your own responsibility for life developments, even when you face things you can’t ultimately control. Similarly, if you were highly prized in your childhood, this can leave you feeling like you have to get everything right. This can then feel like your worth hinges on your achievements.
Meanwhile, negative experiences in early life can also lead to self-blame. Perhaps you were the “naughty child” in your family and tended to get the blame more generally. Or maybe you internalized the idea that you would usually be to blame. Growing up in a strict environment can make you highly conscious of your own failings too; being aware of the consequences of breaking the rules can leave you anxious about making mistakes.
Self Blaming In Adulthood
If you can’t trace your self-blame back to your childhood, it may be that difficult experiences in adulthood have shaped the way you see yourself, especially times when you made choices that you now regret. Further, if you have a tendency to struggle with the unknown or to try and control everything in your environment, you’re bound to feel particularly bad when things don’t turn out as you would prefer.
Finally, it’s worth noting that even if the roots of your self-blame remain mysterious, you can still work on this negative habit and develop a more positive, more realistic perspective on yourself. Embracing powerful techniques and clearing limiting beliefs is the first step of a positive mind. Learn how to break through to your best self… Click here now to get your free ebook: ‘A Guide To Using The Ho’oponopono Method’.
How To Stop Blaming Yourself
Now that you have an idea of why people tend to blame themselves excessively, let’s consider ways in which you can combat this way of thinking and work towards a more appropriate self-image.
As you go through each of the following seven steps, give some thought to how you might apply this advice in your own life. While you will benefit from applying each tip, ask yourself which seem best suited to your personality and your particular circumstances. You don’t have to follow the steps in order. In fact, you may find some of them more natural or powerful than others.
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1. Talk To Others
First of all, you may be surprised by just how much talking to other people can help you cope with worries and ensure that you stay realistic.
Seek out individuals you really trust. Ideally, these people should be good listeners and aren’t made uncomfortable by difficult conversations. When you invite other people to share your thoughts, you also get a chance to see your situation from a different perspective. Sometimes this shift can reduce the sense of responsibility you feel, giving you a sense of relief.
Self-blame can also be alleviated by speaking to a therapist. These professionals may be particularly well-placed to help you understand why you take on so much responsibility. Plus, therapists don’t have a vested interested in the life choices you make. In contrast, friends and family may find it hard to bracket their own feelings about you. As a bonus, a good therapist gives you an experience of entirely non-judgmental acceptance, which can boost your self-esteem.
2. Reframe Your Thoughts
As you figure out how to stop blaming yourself for everything, you’ll have an increasing awareness of just how important your inner critic can be. It’s vital to pay attention to the way you speak to yourself, and the types of thoughts you have.
Look out for judgmental thoughts like “should” and “ought”, and instead move to words like “could”. Every time you find yourself making harsh self-judgments, ask yourself where that voice is really coming from. Often, it will be the voice of a person you grew up with, a critical figure in your life, or a voice representing societal expectations.
To make concrete changes to your self-talk, consciously try to flip negative thoughts. For example, if you think “I should be making more money”, flip this into “What can I do to be more fulfilled at work?” or even “I make enough money to stay healthy, happy and safe.”
3. Learn And Move On
Your default is probably to view them as signs of failure or weakness. However, you can instead to choose to view mistakes as opportunities for learning.
It’s often helpful to do this in writing. Start by writing a sentence that captures what happened. Then, challenge yourself to come up with three things you’ve gained. For example, if you feel a date hasn’t gone well, you might have learned that it’s important to be authentic (rather than trying to “perform”) and that you don’t really get along with people who put work before life.
Further, learning how to stop blaming yourself means developing a concrete way of moving on from mistakes. Once you’ve documented your lesson, firmly draw a line under what has happened. Instead, direct your thoughts towards progress. Remind yourself that moving on is part of making the best of yourself and fulfilling your potential; there’s nothing to be gained from wallowing in mistakes.
4. Take Responsibility, Not Blame
As mentioned at the outset, there’s an important distinction between blame and responsibility. When you blame yourself, you feel guilty about what you’ve done. In this way, you may even feel a degree of self-loathing.
In contrast, taking responsibility is about evaluating the role you played and, if necessary, making amends. For example, if you overlook something at work, blaming yourself involves thinking you’re bad at your job, feeling low and ashamed. Meanwhile, taking responsibility includes seeing why you made the error you did, admitting it to your team and taking steps to prevent yourself from doing something similar in the future.
While it’s great to move away from self-blame, taking responsibility is required for mature, healthy relationships in all aspects of your life, and for growth. Further, people admire the bravery and honesty that taking responsibility requires. Therefore, it’s also a good way to make yourself a role model for others.
5. Start Loving Yourself
Showing yourself self-love and self-care also helps to prevent you from blaming yourself excessively.
Examine how you spend your time. Ask yourself whether you’re devoting enough energy to your hobbies, your passions, and your well-being. Many people simply drift into a pattern of meeting the needs of other people. However, you have to consciously carve out time for yourself if you’re going to cultivate an attitude of genuine self-love. And don’t forget that self-care also requires moving toward loving relationships and friendships, moving away from toxic or draining dynamics that have outlived their purpose.
In addition, try to practice focusing on the positive. One way to do this is to challenge yourself to think of five things to feel grateful for at the end of each day. And when it comes to yourself, challenge yourself to think of at least one thing that you liked about yourself that day.
6. Clear Your Mind
Finally, self-blame and general negativity are both easier to detect and easier to prevent if you get into the habit of practicing mindfulness exercises or meditation techniques. These strategies help to focus your mind on the present moment. They also help to empty of it of extraneous detail that may be clouding your thoughts.
For example, try a simple 10-minute breathing meditation where you close your eyes and focus on deep inhalation and exhalation. You’ll notice your heart rate slowing, and your mind calms down.
You can also add affirming statements to your meditations. Try repeating sentences like “I learn from my mistakes and I move on” or “I am loved, and I am good enough”. These affirmations can be said outside of a meditation context, too. For example, some people like to repeat affirmations in the mirror before starting the day, boosting self-esteem and beginning the morning with a positive attitude.
You’ve developed an understanding of the nature and roots of self-blame, as well as a grasp of some of the most powerful methods you can use to combat it. But why stop there?
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