Who (or what) is ACTUALLY to blame for negative events in life?
If not bad luck… who else?
One most popular answer: OURSELVES.
“Whose fault is it? Oh it’s mine.” A lot of us say this by default: "yes, teacher, I know the right answer" type of a response. This is what we are expected to say.
We say "It's my fault" even if when we are really mad and feel like what's happening to us is very unfair and we don’t deserve it.
When you didn't do anything to bring on what happened and feel frustrated and feel wronged, if somebody were to ask, “Okay, whose fault is it?” you would probably still automatically go: “Oh, that's mine. That’s on me.”
Why is this? Let's dig into some science behind it all
This is because that's how our minds have been trained. In our approach we use the term "unit of perception": it is a state-of-mind type of thing that reflects our picture of reality and determines how we view the world. And while some of these are correct and necessary to function in this life, just like any other bodily function, a unit of perception of our mind can get out of balance and become toxic. (This has nothing to do with psychiatry, by the way, if this is where your mind id trying to go right now -- this if this phenomena in terms of "being mis-concepted" , as a simplified interpretation for now). Anyway, a toxic unit of perception is known as a virus of the mind -- and when you tend to blame yourself for everything, this is exactly what you're dealing with.
Let's expand on this a bit. The notion that “it's my fault” is very strongly influenced by outside factors. We've been told all our life that this is how it is, and we don't question it. The subject of Units of Perception is pretty deep, but let me just share one of the factors associated with them: a unit of perception is something we tend to not question and seldom check against reality -- unless we would consciously make the effort to do so. And so - we blame ourselves "be default", before -- or even instead of -- looking at "the facts of the case" objectively". In fact, what happens a lot of times is that we blame ourselves first, THEN try to find the "supporting evidence" of what our fault could actually be. And if we cannot find enough of this evidence, our mind will spin in an endless cycle of: I feel guilty -- but I didn't do anything -- but I had to have done something -- but I can't think of anything... but I must have done something and this is why -- I feel guilty.
Why is is wrong to blame yourself?
Besides the obvious: unwarranted, un-needed and un-productive stress, self-blame simply does not present a correct picture of reality. Think about it: if something happens to you, in most cases, if you could have prevented it wouldn’t you have? That's precisely why we call it bad luck. When things happen, it's usually not for the lack of wanting and even trying. So, why would you blame yourself for something that was completely out of your hands?
Here are a couple examples that prove that A) self-blame does not reflect the objective reality and B) our control of situations is indeed limited
One of the classic examples is mom guilt or feeling like you're not a good mother.
We all know that most of us would give anything for our kids – we'd give anything to be a better mother, to be better at giving that than anything. And often, most of us encounter times when we feel like “I wish I could do more.” So, if someone were to come and tell you that you need to do this or that in order to be a better mom, well… you've probably already tried that. Or you’re probably already wanting that (have been wanting that for a while), but it's JUST. NOT. HAPPENING.
Another example is making resolutions: “Oh, I'm going to be more forgiving. I'm going to be more tolerant. I'm going to be less triggered. I'm going to be more loving.” All these are very solid resolutions… until somebody ticks you off or does something that hits the wrong nerve. Boom.
Self-blame is destructive and gets you nowhere
There is yet another misconception floating out there, that blaming yourself is somehow the same as taking responsibility (while the two concepts have very little in common to begin with - but more on this later) and will therefore make you a better person and thus can be used as a tool for self-improvement.
Using self-blame as foundation for change doesn't get you anywhere. It's what I call a moralist approach, where the person who brings about the approach acts as a moralist: “Oh, I'm going to help you to be a better person”... while simply judging you and subtly establishing THEMSELVES as someone who is better.
If you should have done things differently, but somehow chose not to, and thus will need this advice to be a better person... does that mean that you are currently NOT a good person? In essence, this is exactly what this approach in telling you: there’s something wrong with you, and that you just haven’t tried hard enough to fix it.
When you first encounter this approach, it’s usually initially met with enthusiasm: “Yeah, you're right, I just need to do XYZ and everything's going to be fine.” But pretty soon it changes into reluctance and maybe even a little bit of righteous indignation: “Wait a minute, I already know what I need to do to be a better mom (or partner, or employee, etc.). But now what?” And then, when the approach fails to supply any help or information for the "now what" part, the situation often progresses to outright frustration: “Who are you to tell me what to do? Are you better than me?”
That's why when you go to therapy that uses this approach, oftentimes you’re already reluctant because a little voice inside of you is creaming: “I know what you're going to tell me. I already know this.”
And it doesn’t work. (As this intuition voice will also tell you) This is because you’re not to blame in the first place!
So, who DO you blame?
We will be continuing this conversation! The best way to stay on it is to follow our YouTube channel. I will be posting more videos on both self-blame, the roles of units of perception in our daily success and other materials on how to overcome negative events in your life by properly understanding and putting to use your potential over the next few weeks. Hit the notification button and get a new insight every Friday -- it's amazing how much you can learn simply but getting a light-bulb moment here and there!