the self-blame game

I am currently taking a 6-week intro to psychology class and am on my way to becoming an expert. Just kidding, so take my take on these psychological concepts with a grain of salt. This week’s lecture covered attribution and how people are likely to explain something by blaming the individual or the situation. It was interesting to me because my professors noted how typically when observing another person, you just blame them for any bad things they may have done. If someone cuts you off while driving, you just think that person is a jerk without thinking too deeply as to what might have been going on in their car. However, if you are thinking about yourself and your shortcomings, you are more likely to blame the situation you were in. If you fail a test, you might blame the teaching methods over your own studying habits.

I am not saying I am some psychological exception, and I know this is closely linked to anxiety, but I do have a tendency to blame myself for my own actions AND the actions of others. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I will probably think they are a jerk but will also spend the rest of the drive criticizing my own driving habits and thinking of ways that I could have been better prepared. If I fail a test, even if it was the result of a teaching shortcoming, I will blame myself for not overcoming it. I wouldn’t say I’m “hard” on myself, it more so feels like I just have an inner voice that I am constantly fighting. These self-blaming thoughts feel more intrusive and driven by anxiety than my actual personal voice. I don’t know if these thoughts are controllable, but I do think I need to work on building up my positive inner monologue.

This is very abstract and challenging for me to accomplish. People always preach that you should love yourself, but what does that even mean? I feel like I generally love myself, but I also tear down my confidence nearly daily with my thoughts. I don’t know how to go about thinking more positively about myself but being vulnerable with others has helped. This sounds horrible, and maybe I am just a true villain to myself and others, but knowing that other people can also be their own worst enemies has comforted me a bit. I used to think everyone just had it together more than I did, which probably fueled and reinforced my self-blaming nature. Thinking of myself as a friend to myself has also helped. I would never tell a friend that they were looking ugly or being really dumb when they failed a test, but I say these things to myself almost automatically. Try recognizing your own humanity to talk to yourself more kindly.

We are all growing into ourselves and experiencing life at our own pace. You may perceive others to be “better” than yourself, but you can never know how those people perceive themselves. We are all learning to love ourselves and even though we can’t build up another person’s confidence or reduce their self-blame, we can treat them kindly to make their own journey easier. You can also incorporate these techniques to how you interact with yourself! You may be having a rough time in school or work, but you can be kind to yourself to make everything slightly easier. I know this is not easy, breaking habits can be very hard, but recognizing when you continually blame yourself for things that are out of your control is a good place to start.

2 thoughts on “the self-blame game”

  1. “We are all growing into ourselves and experiencing life at our own pace.” This is something I need to constantly remind myself of. Although why does it somehow hit home so much more when someone else (my friend, you!) says it than when I say it to myself. In my journey to be a better friend to myself, I am working on listening and taking my own thoughts and first instincts more seriously. I rarely second guess my friends, but I seem to constantly second guess myself.

    1. I know, I think there definitely is value in getting reassurance from other people but I am trying to rely on myself a bit more.

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