Do you routinely blame yourself or feel guilty for things that happen in your life?
When there are challenges in life and there are many, particularly as a parent, we can acknowledge the difficulties, question ourselves and learn from our mistakes. This is an essential part of living.
There is however a big difference between this and blaming ourselves. Blaming ourselves, particularly when we do it often, works against us making our lives less enjoyable and when it is bad it stops us from valuing what we actually bring to the world.
Some of us are prone to self-blame and guilt when things don’t work out as planned or when criticism comes our way. With this post I will to explore this issue and how we can help ourselves.
In life great stuff happens, regular stuff happens and difficult stuff happens. We all deal with it in our own particular way, usually using certain coping mechanisms we have developed over time. However, it is the meaning that we make of these events and what we believe about ourselves that make the biggest impact to how we feel about our lives.
Our beliefs about ourselves
The meaning we make of ourselves has a powerful effect on our lives, which is often fairly invisible to us, much like the air we breathe. We learn certain beliefs in our childhood, which is why they are so difficult to see, because they have been around for so long. They are not universal truths but generalisations about ourselves, other people and the world.The meaning we make of ourselves has a powerful effect on our lives. Click To Tweet
If someone believes that they are okay as a person then they will interpret their whole life significantly differently to someone who believes they are not good enough.
On a daily basis events happen that we interpret in a particular way depending on our belief systems. Let’s take an example of a very innocuous life event like noticing someone is looking at us when we are out shopping. A person who believes they are unattractive is likely to feel self-conscious and take it as read that the onlooker is thinking something critical. A person who believes that people are out to get them is likely to feel suspicious and defensive. Whereas, a person who feels fundamentally okay might assume that the look is friendly and smile. The reality could be a million and one things (maybe the onlooker is just noticing the same trousers that they have). But these people have interpreted it based on their belief systems and created a radically different feeling in themselves about the event.What we believe about ourselves is like the air, invisible yet everywhere. Click To Tweet
Our belief systems are a filter, catching and holding onto anything that seems to confirm what we believe and releasing anything that doesn’t. They constantly lead us to the same fundamental conclusion.
When something happens that directly contradicts our beliefs then, we will ignore or dismiss it. So, for example, someone given a compliment that believes they are okay will accept it and take it on board. Whereas, someone who doesn’t is likely to feel momentarily uncomfortable and then dismiss it or just carry on as if it didn’t happen.
How does this information help us with self-blame?
Well when we find ourselves repeatedly blaming ourselves or feeling guilty we can be sure that there is a limiting belief, or a series of limiting beliefs behind it. Fortunately, these beliefs are not fixed forever. If we are open to look a bit deeper there are ways to discover what these beliefs are.
In any situation you can ask what it means about you. So if our child is struggling at pre-school and you feel guilty or are blaming yourself then ask “What does this mean about me?”
It might be…
It is all my fault
I’m a failure
I always get things wrong.
Another way is to complete these sentences.
This situation means I am…
What you are looking for here is a statement that you fear to be true about yourself rather than a feeling. So, if you answer I am upset then carry on completing the sentence until you have a statement about you. So it might go…
I am upset
I am feeling weak
I am unsure what to do
I am never good enough
This last line is a statement about the meaning you have given to yourself. This is a limiting belief because it is all encompassing. You see we may under certain circumstances be unable to live up to our own or others peoples expectations but that is never always the case as implied by the belief ‘I am never good enough’. That is the problem with limiting beliefs, they are inflexible and not the universal truth we unconsciously allow them to be.
It is actually freeing to fully acknowledge those limiting beliefs that operate in our lives
This process may sound pretty painful but it is actually freeing to fully acknowledge those limiting beliefs that operate in our lives. Once we begin identifying them we can start to see things differently.We can start to question their validity, give ourselves a break and input something more helpful, like “I don’t feel good enough now but I am a capable person”
We can consider what we would tell a friend if roles were reversed and decide to offer ourselves the same compassion that we would do for others.
It takes practice and time to work on our beliefs. Much like exercising a muscle, our ability to challenge them gets stronger the more we do it.
We can also work with visualisations, seeing ourselves with a different belief and being that person for a while. As a Hypnotherapist and Counsellor I regularly see the huge benefit that comes from people truly visualising themselves and their life differently. The things we are aiming for become more real and something our mind can more easily work towards.
Did any of this resonate with you? Do you feel you have limiting beliefs that contribute to blaming yourself? Or, have you found ways to work on your own limiting beliefs? I would love to hear about your experiences. I reply to all comments I receive.
So what is next?
If you liked this article then you may also like:
And finally, click on the button below to keep up to date with the latest articles and offers from The Guilt-Free Guide AND receive your FREE guided visualisation ‘Mother Moments’ especially designed to give you some time for you to focus on yourself.