We all have different sets of rules for blaming different people… one set of rules for those we love, one for strangers, one for those we actively dislike, etc. There is another set of rules we all have, though, that is much harder to reconsider and change… the rules for blaming our selves.
When I say blame, I mean whether you truly believe something is the person’s fault or not. You might say, for instance, that little Suzie shouldn’t have pushed the other child in her class… but if you are truly thinking “He must have done something to deserve it.”, you don’t truly blame her.
The change in the rules for whether or not you blame someone are pretty easy to predict when it comes to other people. The closer you feel to them, the less likely you are to blame them for something. If someone you love does something bad, you will look for circumstances and related evidence that shows, at least to you, that it is not their fault. If someone you dislike does something good, you will look for circumstances and related evidence that shows, to you, that they had selfish motivations for doing so.
When it comes down to your own actions, the same sort of thing appears to apply, at least on the surface. If you love yourself, you will look for excuses to not blame yourself for your own actions. If you dislike yourself, you will find reasons to not even credit yourself for the good that you do.
In my experience far more people fall into the latter category. They blame themselves for things where they would not blame anyone else for the exact same actions.
Part of this comes from the fact that we know, for certain, our own thoughts and motivations. Few people truly have completely pure motivations when they do something, even something that seems completely selfless to others. When you look at your own actions, then, you have all of that to associate with the action and take away the goodness of the action. The same sort of thing holds true for bad deeds, as well… not only do you know what the action was, you also know all of the bad thoughts, feelings, etc., that went with it, making it even worse.
This is a vicious cycle, too… the more you blame yourself for everything you do, the less you like yourself, and the more you look for things you can blame on yourself. You often even start blaming yourself for things that are outside your control… for the happiness of those around you, for instance, or your lack of talent in one area or another (you can gain skill, but not talent… to others skill may appear as talent, but talent is innate ability, without training).
Mostly this happens at the subconscious level. You don’t even realize that you are blaming yourself for things that you would never even consider thinking was someone’s fault if the same thing happened to them.
This has a huge impact, but it comes slowly… it is an ongoing injury that only bleeds a few drops at a time. There is no noticeable impact for weeks, months, sometimes even years. It’s so gradual, in fact, that you often don’t notice it at all… you just get more tired, more easily overwhelmed, or angered, or other negative emotions and reactions.
Even if you only bleed a few drops at a time, you will eventually bleed dry. Infusions from positive things happening in your life (finding your soul mate, having a baby, getting your dream job) can help out, but if you don’t stop the bleeding, even the strongest man will fall.
How do you stop the bleeding? You can learn to focus on the positive things in your life, and that will generally slow and maybe even stop the bleeding. If you really want to heal, though, you have to learn to take a step back from your life, mentally, and look at your self the way you would look at another person.
Would you blame your best friend for the fact that they had not fulfilled all of their dreams? Would you blame your brother or sister if they occasionally fail? If you wouldn’t blame someone else in the same situation, then you need to let go of the blame you are laying at your own feet.
It is hard to do this, and it is easy to slip back into blaming your self for everything. It does become easier with time, though, and the peace that accompanies releasing the guilt and blame is nothing short of amazing when you first experience it.
Broken dreams, like broken toys, cannot be fixed while you cling to them. You have to let go first… then you may find that they can be restored, sometimes better than they ever were.
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