How to Get Past Blaming Yourself
A few weeks ago my fiancé and I were visiting my family when I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 pm.
Later that night he let me know that he was pretty bummed since I missed out on the visit. I bailed on him and the family by passing out.
I immediately blamed him. How many times have I been there for HIS family? How many times did I NOT fall asleep?!?
I wanted him to know I wasn’t in the wrong. HE was wrong.
While I tried to hear him out (admittedly, I didn’t try very hard), I started to blame myself. I shouldn’t have done that. Really, I couldn’t stay awake for another two hours? So many people rally, but I didn’t.
I was awake for hours beating myself up over it. (Ahem, maybe more like 20 minutes)
When I thought about it the next day, I realized that I created all this drama for myself over a very neutral thing: I feel asleep. Something I do every day. What happened wasn’t good or bad. It just happened and then we all had thoughts about it.
When I realized that, I felt better. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not a terrible person. I’m just a human person who fell asleep. I thought, as a courtesy to myself and my family, I can choose to stay awake a little longer next time.
We do this all the time when it comes to weight loss.
If the food plan we picked doesn’t work, we blame the plan.
If we meet someone who it is working for, we blame ourselves instead.
I watched this happen with one of my weight loss clients the other day.
She wrote a message saying that her food plan sucked and it wasn’t working for her. That she was never going to succeed on it. That she was failing and should just quit now. When I asked her what was going on, she said that the scale had gone up by one pound that day.
Instead of looking at that pound as data she could learn from, she decided that she was a failure. She was ready to throw in the towel over her thoughts about that pound.
I let her know that the number on the scale doesn’t have any power over her. It doesn’t mean anything until you have a thought about it. If that thought is positive, we have a positive feeling and go about taking actions that are good for us. If that thought is negative, we have negative feelings and go about taking actions that are bad for us.
Most of this happens without us even noticing it. We let the number on the scale mean everything and forget that we were the ones who created meaning around the number in the first place.
Instead we shift to blame. The interesting thing about blame is that it’s completely optional. There’s no upside. Blaming someone else means we don’t take responsibility. When we assign responsibility to someone or something else, we also hand over all of our power. We become a victim.
So what can you do? You work on changing the habit of blaming by noticing it’s there in the first place.
When you notice yourself accusing or blaming, you can use that as a cue to have a look around in your brain to see what’s there. Am I blaming? Why am I blaming?
In the situation with my fiancé, I was blaming him because I didn’t want to feel the negative feelings that were coming up for me.
Instead I could have taken a moment to notice myself blaming. I might have said, “I am having a negative emotion, but nothing has gone wrong here.” Nobody was wrong. We were just humans having emotions.
The same goes for the scale. The number that blinks onto the screen is innocent. You have a thought about it. You might want to blame it or yourself for the number being what it is. Instead of getting out your baseball bat and whacking the scale to bits and pieces, tell yourself:
“I am having a negative emotion, but nothing has gone wrong here.”
If nothing has gone wrong, you don’t have to make things right. You don’t have to perform violence on your scale. You don’t have to fix yourself. You don’t have to solve a problem.
You just let that emotion wash over you like a wave and feel it while it’s there. It will probably last 3-5 minutes before it goes away. The worst you are going to feel is an emotion.
Taking 100% responsibility for the emotions means you take back all of your power.
Nothing went wrong when Josh expressed how he felt about me falling asleep. I can see now he might be right. I did miss out on family time and that’s kinda a bummer.
I can love him for letting me know that instead of shutting him down. Next time I can notice the urge to blame and feel the feeling instead. I can stay open to him and to myself.
Scan through your mind. Where are you blaming?
How could you take 100% responsibility for your emotions instead of handing your power away?