There is a big difference between being responsible for ourselves and blaming ourselves.
Initially, it can be tough for us to tell the difference between self-punishment and empowerment. Here are a few tips and tricks… to drop the habit of self-blame.
- Re-frame how you question yourself.
We all have patterns, or tendencies, in how we communicate. In a tough situation, there is probably an automatic question or two that you usually ask yourself. When it pops up, write it down. It might be, “What did I do wrong?” or, “Why do I always eff up?”
Ask yourself if you would ask someone you care about the same exact question. Chances are, the answer is no. Let that sink in.
- Change the question.
How would you ask the question if it was directed at someone else?
Pretend you are playing the role of trusted friend to someone you respect, love, and whom you hold in the highest regard. Would you have more compassion for their experience? Would you want to be supportive? Would you desire to assist them by being able to offer a more detached view? (Spoiler: Yes!)
The new question you ask will depend on the situation. One that fits almost any experience is, simply, “What can I take from this?”
I also like, “What do I want to learn from this?” which can remind us to consider in a more empowering direction. Also, “How do I want this to be different in the future?” can help us to formulate a plan to make that future happen.
- Now ask yourself that question.
How does your altered question feel? Does it cause you to clench up, or do you begin hearing a litany of crappy internal dialogue? If so, change the question again. Keep changing it until you come up with a version that you’re comfortable hearing, that assists you in actually coming up with an introspective response.
- Remember, there is not one “right” way; there are just ways of being.
I think many of us believe there is only one right way or one correct path. With this belief, there are many chances to consider that we are wrong or that we’ve failed. This is simply not the case!
There are many ways to do most tasks, just as there are many ways to live our lives. Having a difficult experience doesn’t mean we’ve done anything wrong; it means we are on a tougher road to learning, for the moment.
Opportunities are infinite; our options are boundless, and we always have the power to change our perspective on any life event, large or small.
We have just as much energy for self-compassion and exploration as we do for self-punishment. It’s up to us to direct it.