How to Overcome Self-Blame

rp_58XKxH1433418205-300x300.jpgDo 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

or

I’m a failure

or

I always get things wrong.

 

Another way is to complete these sentences.

I am…

or

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?

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49 thoughts on “How to Overcome Self-Blame

  1. This hit so many nerves with me. I’m always questioning myself, and am fraught with limiting beliefs about worthiness. I’ll be working on these a bit more, now I’ve realised the wider impact. great post #binkylinky
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted…Bubabloon ReviewMy Profile

    1. Hi Zena, I am glad it struck a chord with you. Acknowledging these beliefs is a great start. Thanks for commenting

  2. I know that sometimes I can be very hard on myself. Especially since having kids. Not because I feel like I am failing as a mother but because this is the first time since I was 15 that I haven’t had a job or career. Parenting in my mind isn’t a job…it’s a choice to put another’s needs above your own. But I blame myself because sometimes I let motherhood consume me and I begin to fail as a wife, friend, and self. This was a great post and thank you for sharing again with #momsterslink.
    Trista recently posted…DCKids And Warner Bros’ Toy Basket GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Hi Trista, It is a very tough balancing act. We cant do it all at once. Great wife, Mom, cleaner, personal self development specialist, career woman. What!! that is not freedom. There are times I think when we have to make choices for our own sanity and the fact that we need to sleep each day. I think motherhood is consuming. I would just like you to listen to yourself ‘Parenting in my mind isn’t a job…it’s a choice to put another’s needs above your own’ I think you have a lot to be proud of, I really do.

  3. What an inspirational and reassuring post. Our mindset is everything and taking control of that isn’t easy to do. I’ve been working on the way I think about myself and situations I am in and do a lot of the things you talk about. I find it very helpful. I’m visiting today from #momsterlink
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…How to Use TwitterMy Profile

    1. Hi Becky, That is great to hear. Working on our beliefs is one of the most profound things that we can do in life. And as a parent we know that not only will it make a difference to us but our kids also. Thanks for commenting.

    1. I am glad to here you have tuned into that inner voice and can hear when it is telling you something rather negative. Sometimes we do just have to stop it dead and add in something more constructive. The more time you do that the stronger your ability will get. I love the ‘I can’. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I think it’s easy to blame ourselves as parents because we are aware of how important our job is and we want to do the best we can. I try not to fall into the trap too often though and I do tell myself when I think things are going well and then remind myself of those times when things aren’t going so well. Ultimately I think beating ourselves up gets us nowhere and we’re better off putting the energy to better use! Great post Kirsten. xx
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted…An interview with Emily OrganMy Profile

    1. Hi Maddy. I love the fact that you note when things are going well. It shows that your own self beliefs are not working against you in this area. I agree that parenthood is a minefield for self blame and guilt but we do learn as we go along. thanks for commenting.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Victoria. I am glad this is of use to you. If you do want a bit of further info then email me or use the contact form and I will do what I can. Good luck. It is tough but very useful work to look into our beliefs.

  5. I often find myself feeling guilty for not doing something, or for doing something with my children that I thought they’d enjoy, but they didn’t or because I didn’t read to them one day or teach them how to write another day. I always blame myself for their upset or unhappiness. I think it’s just a part of being a parent. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky
    Emily recently posted…Binky LinkyMy Profile

    1. Thanks for hosting and commenting Emily. I believe that questioning ourselves all the time is a part of parenting because we care so much.

  6. This was very interesting. I am very much a glass half empty type, which can lead to viewing situations in quite a negative light, and myself in the same light. I often blame myself when things don’t work out the way I hoped they would, but I do work very hard on not living in the past, and to learn rather than regret. Great post x
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…Silent Sunday: 7 June 2015My Profile

    1. Hi Sara. Learning is the key in life. If we can see ourselves as on a learning journey and be kind to ourselves then life is fluid and we can keep growing. If we blame ourselves too much then it can stop us moving on. I am glad to hear that you focus on the learning. Thank you for adding your voice to this conversation.

    1. Wow, thank you for that. I have been to your site too and greatly approve of working towards authenticity. There is nothing better than learning about ourselves.

  7. Fabulous post!! And something I have been looking into a bit more recently. The psychology around it is fascinating.. The things we pick up as a child, the limiting beliefs we place on ourselves. Then as we get older, when we look back and realise and try to to change and then pass on positives and empowerment to out children. Thanks for sharing #pocolo
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…TravelSnug Review: A New Way To Fly With KidsMy Profile

    1. Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for your comment and follow on twitter. Psychology is a great topic (hence my job as an integrative therapist). I think that as parents we really want to be the best we can and not pass on our own limitations. It is of great value to everyone though to look into their own deeply held beliefs because in the long run it frees us from the limitations of our upbringing.

    1. Thank you Natasha. I am glad you enjoyed the read and found it useful. It is so fascinating how we work as humans. We are born so flexible which makes sense so we can fit into any society and situations. It is what has made the human race so successful but it can also hold us back on an individual level unless we look into what we believe. Thanks for your comment and support.

    1. Hi Mariet. I am glad this was of use to you. How we understand ourselves is so key to our lives. I find it useful to know that my feelings are of value but they are not all of me. So in the case of not feeling good enough, i allow myself to know that is how I feel but that I am more than that, my feeling is only one part of me and the great thing about feelings is they alter.

      Teaching our children those things that we didn’t learn is very satisfying particularly when we see them take it to heart. Thanks for commenting.

  8. This is such a great article brought alive by those all to common limiting beliefs that quietly run in the background but which hugely impact how we react to life. I used to believe I was not intelligent even though I had completed a Master Degree and was about to embark on my Doctoral. Then it dawned on me and what a relief! Thank you Kirsten.

    1. Hi Sandra, Thank you for your kind comment. It is amazing how our beliefs hold their ground despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, like your example. I agree, it is truly a relief when we let those that aren’t working for us go. then we are free to be ourselves.

    1. Hi Tina. It is not always easy, so looking a bit deeper can help us really understand what is going on and actually make it a bit easier in the long run.
      I think sometimes we tend to feel that if something is uncomfortable or has gone wrong then someone must be at fault. Very often though, it just is. Everyone did their best or what they thought was right at the time. Acceptance helps too.
      Thanks very much for adding your words to this discussion.

  9. Wow you really know your stuff! First of all thank you so much for linking up with Reflectionsfromme.com so thrilled to have you. I have already begun tweeting and sharing this insightful post of yours! This totally resonates with me, a year ago I really became aware how much I was putting myself down and being negative about what others may think of me. Part of my journey as a writer over the past 6 months has really been to change my negative patterns and start believing in myself, the more I do it the more I enjoy life and the happier I have become. I really love all your quotes in this post, you are a wonderful writer. Thanks again for linking up xx
    Mackenzie Glanville (reflectionsfromme.com) recently posted…Photographs: Mummy & UsMy Profile

    1. Hi Mackenzie. I am thrilled to hear about your journey towards believing in yourself. You are so right, it is a journey but one that gets easier as we travel it. Writing can be wonderful way to express the person that you are. Allowing yourself to have a voice is very healing. Thank you for your kind words.

    1. Thank you for you comment. Self blame is very damaging as it negates who we are as people. We are more than our actions and looking to the feelings beyond can help us untangle what is going on.

    1. Thank you Renee for your kind words. I agree with everything you have said about making peace with our situation. It is vital and so easy to overlook in our struggle to feel better.

  10. Nice post! I agree that the way we feel about our selves determines how we see the world. I’m working on getting my mind under control and instead of thinking negative things, give it all a positive or at least a non judging twist. It works!
    Miep recently posted…Soul ArtMy Profile

    1. Thank you Miep. It is a mazing what we find we say to ourselves when we actually focus on it. Paying attention to that inner voice pay big dividends in the long run.

    1. So true. It is a shame to be limited by something that we were given. When we see these things as no reality but a limiting belief then it can begin to change our world. Thanks very much for commenting.

    1. Hi debs. You are right. That article is targeted at parents but it could be for anyone. We all have beliefs about ourselves and the world, it is just that for some of us those beliefs hold us back or even cause us pain. Like you said giving ourselves credit for what we do is a great start. When we value ourselves and can be kind to ourselves life improves. Thanks for your insightful comment and hosting your linky.

  11. Great post. You always write so insightful and from points of views I never think of. I am always learning or nodding along with your post. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…Siblings {June}My Profile

    1. Hi jenny. Thank you very much for your compliments. I am glad that I am able to write in a way that rings true for you. Thanks for hosting and commenting.

  12. This really hit home with me. I’m terrible at this. I’ve gone on so many courses to try and improve it. It’s slowly getting there though. You’re so right with it all. #bigfatlinky

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