“My boyfriend isn’t generous enough (so it’s his fault that I don’t feel loved.) My friend isn’t understanding (so it’s her fault that I feel alone.) My mother criticizes me (so it’s her fault that I don’t pursue my dreams.) My boss is too demanding (so it’s his fault that I feel so stressed out.) My co-workers are uncooperative (so it’s their fault that I am overworked.) My son is too stubborn (so it’s his fault that we don’t have peace at home.)”
Some of my clients blame themselves. Our Inner Critic can be really harsh at judging us and it’s difficult for many people to be compassionate with themselves. (See: Self Judgment Or Self-Compassion?)
Or they blame the situation that they are in:
“I don’t have enough money, so I can’t really do what I want. I don’t have any friends who want to go anywhere, so I cannot travel. I don’t have the “right” education or experience, so I cannot have the career I really want. The economy is bad, so I can’t start a business.”
How does all the blaming help us? Blaming others may make us feel better (I didn’t do anything wrong! It was somebody else’s fault!). Blaming ourselves may be an attempt to keep us from making mistakes in the future. Blaming our situation relieves us of any responsibility (This just happened to me! There is nothing I can do!) and allows us to stay in our comfort zone, where it’s nice and safe.
I used to blame my parents for an unhappy childhood, I blamed myself for everything that I didn’t do “right”, and I blamed work for all the stress and lack of free time. But all the blaming didn’t get me anywhere.
The problem is that blaming keeps us stuck. If we blame others, it damages our relationships with them because we see the other person negatively, which may lead to negative reactions from them. If we blame our situation, we feel like a victim and think that things just happen to us and we have no control over them. If we blame ourselves, we end up feeling bad and don’t have the confidence to step out of our comfort zone and take risks to go for what we really want.
So how do we get out of this cycle?
Stop Blaming (yourself or anybody else) and ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. “What can I be responsible for in this situation?”
Maybe you are not speaking up. Or you are not seeking out any help. Or you are not taking care of yourself. Or you have been avoiding telling yourself the truth about something.
Please remember: Taking responsibility does not mean blaming yourself. It just means acknowledging your role in this situation with self-compassion.
2. “What have I been unwilling to accept in this situation up until now?”
Maybe you didn’t want to accept that you contributed in any way. Maybe you didn’t want to see that even though you had no control over what happened, you do have control over what you do next. Maybe you didn’t want to admit that somebody else’s view is just as valid as your own.
3. “What action can I now commit to in this situation?”
This may include talking to someone, getting advice or seeking support, deciding to do things differently in the future, changing your approach, figuring out all your choices, etc.
Giving up blaming is one of the most powerful things we can do to stop feeling like a victim and start taking control of our life. It also allows us to create much more loving and caring relationships with others, and feel happier and more fulfilled.
What would giving up blaming give you?