10 things in life you should stop blaming yourself for, according to psychology

Life is quite the journey, full of ups and downs.

When we experience the lows, it’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming ourselves for things.

It might be because you think you’ve messed up. But often we do it when something was never within our control in the first place.

Regardless of the reasons, blame is not only fruitless, but it’s also self-destructive.

Self-blame breeds victimhood. The irony is that we’re looking for a greater sense of control from it, yet in doing so we give away even more of our power.

With that in mind, here are some things in life you need to stop blaming yourself for.

1) How other people behave or feel

People love to pass the buck. So you may find that someone tries to shift blame your way.

Their jealousy is because you don’t reassure them enough or their anger is because you rub them up the wrong way.

The “you made me do it” line is complete nonsense and just their way of sidestepping responsibility.

Similarly, when someone treats you poorly, it’s not your fault.

You’ve likely heard it said before:

How someone else treats you is a reflection of them and not you.

So why doesn’t it always feel that way?

It’s a hard habit to drop.

But as Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic book, “The Four Agreements” reminds us, nothing is personal.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in…Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.”

Holding yourself responsible for someone else’s feelings and actions is always unfair.

2) If someone doesn’t like you

It’s another little truism that can be hard to swallow:

‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time’.

In a world where we’re all different, not everyone is going to like you. That’s never a nice feeling.

But ultimately, you don’t get a say in how others behave, think, or feel, as we’ve just seen in our previous point.

It’s better to focus your energy on making sure you like yourself.

Whenever we seek too much external validation, we risk falling into people-pleasing behaviors.

Feeling accepted then becomes more important than being who we really are.

3) Failed romance

Rejection of any kind can quickly be something we internalize.

If someone doesn’t want to be with us, or their feelings change we naturally wonder why.

But the real answer is often such a complex picture, it can’t be simplified.

Professional counselor Hannah Rose says its such an easy trap to fall into.

“We make it about us. We tell ourselves these narratives about how we aren’t good enough, how we aren’t worthy. But that’s simply not true. We are always worthy, we are always enough. Maybe the relationship itself wasn’t organic, maybe it’s not meeting both of your needs. But that doesn’t mean you are inherently flawed.”

In order to stop blaming ourselves when romance goes wrong, we have to learn to separate rejection from self-worth.

4) The way you feel

things a man does when hes feeling lonely 10 things in life you should stop blaming yourself for, according to psychology

Taming your emotions can be like putting a leash on a tiger.

Sadly toxic positivity can lead to believe that only some emotions are valid.

Yet real human feelings exist on a wide spectrum. None are wrong, even when they don’t make you feel good.

As soon as we make ourselves wrong for feeling a certain way, we pile on more pressure which only adds to our emotional burden.

Trying to repress certain emotions because we feel guilty about having them won’t make them disappear.

Your emotions are natural and the best way to move through them rather than get stuck is to learn how to express them in healthy ways.

So instead of blaming yourself for your emotions, practice self-awareness and acceptance to better understand and regulate them.

5) Not having the right life tools yet to deal with certain things

Have you ever watched a quiz show and seen someone completely stumped on a question that you think is obvious?

But here’s the thing:

It’s only easy when you already know the answer.

The same principle goes for lots of life experiences and skills we gather.

Sometimes we don’t always behave in the best way, but it’s because we don’t know any other way of handling things.

Mistakes happen, as we’ll see next.

But most of us are doing the best we can with the emotional and mental tools we have available to us at the time.

We are always learning and growing, but it’s also a never ending process.

In short, you’re trying your best so cut yourself some slack.

6) Silly mistakes or big regrets

Whether it was tiny, or monumental:

Mistakes are an unavoidable part of life.

That’s a fact.

Everyone makes them, even the most successful and smartest people on the planet.

Blaming yourself for every single mistake, big and small, can lead to feelings of inadequacy.

Similarly, feeling like you’ve made the “wrong” decision can eat away at you.

Ultimately, dwelling on past events that cannot be changed is unproductive. Blaming yourself for things that have already happened will not alter the outcome.

What’s done is done.

Instead, we can learn from our mistakes instead of dwelling on them.

We turn them into a more positive experience when we are determined to get something constructive out of it.

That means, focusing on growth and improvement rather than self-blame.

7) When things don’t work out the way you’d hoped

This one can often show up in very subtle ways.

Disappointments may start to spill over into self-blame without you even realizing at first.

So it may start as feeling, “ I wish things had been different.”

Along with that thought comes questions about whether there was something you did or didn’t do that would have affected the outcome.

The real truth is you may never know.

But the problem with ‘if only’ is that it will drive you crazy.

It can help to let go of these thoughts by acknowledging that life works in mysterious ways.

Even as one door closes, another one always opens.

8) Falling for someone’s lies, manipulation, or abuse

Intelligent and Manipulative Individual 1 10 things in life you should stop blaming yourself for, according to psychology

Repeat after me:

That’s on them, not on me.

Toxic relationships can make us believe that we’re the ones in the wrong. Self-blame then becomes a learned habit you fall into.

That’s especially the case when you’ve been under the spell of a master manipulator who convinces you that it’s always your fault.

Even if you manage to escape this person, the blame doesn’t stop. You may ask yourself things like:

“How could I have been so foolish?!”

“Why did I stay?!”

“How couldn’t I see it all along”

Sadly, all sorts of victims often blame themselves.

As psychotherapist Amy Morin points out, this occurs as they try to make sense of what has happened to them:

“Victims sometimes blame themselves for the same reason others blame them. In some cases, they too want to believe the world is fair. Blaming themselves may also help them feel safer in some ways.”

In order to feel more in control we want to tell ourselves there was something we could have done. So we shoulder the blame.

But as we’ll see next, the truth is that much of life is out of our hands.

9) Bad things that happen to you

I’m all for self-responsibility.

But that’s not the same as telling yourself you must have done something to deserve it when something shitty happens in life.

It’s a sad fact that nobody is immune to heartache or troubles.

A lot of the time there are circumstances way beyond your control.

As scary and sad as it can feel, many things we do not have the power to change.

Blaming yourself for things that are out of your hands is futile and harmful.

10) Doing what’s right for you

Sometimes doing what’s best for you can tread on other people’s toes in the process.

Of course, nobody wants to upset others.

We hate to think that our actions may hurt someone else.

Yet you are entitled to put your needs and wants first.

That’s not a license to go around doing whatever the heck we want without giving anyone a second thought.

But the reality is that self-care can involve disappointing others.

Trying to keep everyone around you happy and putting yourself last will only lead to problems later down the line.

After all, the biggest regret people gave while they were lying on their deathbed was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

It’s your life, never feel bad for living it how you see fit.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

We live and we learn, that’s all part of the process.

Forgiving yourself for all your perceived mess-ups or flaws is powerful. To enjoy greater peace of mind, it’s also essential.

“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

— Lily Tomlin

That’s why it starts with acceptance of how things are. That way we can shift our focus away from the past and on to the present moment.

But it also requires plenty of self-compassion.

Because chances are, many of the things you’ve been blaming yourself for were never your fault in the first place.

We need to be far kinder to ourselves. This is how we can learn lessons but still free ourselves of the guilt, shame, or sadness that we sometimes carry.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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