5 Reasons Why Not to Blame Yourself

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“I don’t know if I should tell you this.” She said. 

I was intrigued. This person just hired me for 6 months of coaching – and in our first session she was openly considering holding back. 

“I don’t want to be blamed for what’s going on with me.” She continued,  “I mean, I know I’m in this situation because of the actions I’ve taken. But…” She trailed off. 

I wish this fear of blame wasn’t as common as it is. 

So many of my clients come to me feeling doubt and shame because they blame themselves for not having what they want. They blame themselves for the bad situations they may be in. And they blame themselves for not making their lives better. 

I assured this client that I would never blame her for actions she did or didn’t take. And I truly meant it.

Firtile Ground

The truth is, the self-help world is fertile ground for blame.

It’s not that self-help specifically tells you you’re to blame for all your woes (although I do take exception to some “teachers” out there that say exactly that). But when you’re already critical of yourself, why not take the extra step and take the blame for where you are today?

So many of my clients come to me cringing because they expect my coachy-tough-love-wake-up call to confirm what they’ve feared — that only they are to blame for where they are. 

Yes, my clients often get a wake up call in our first session but it’s never the one they expected. 

Their real wake-up call is that they’re not to blame. 

No one is. Not my client, not my client’s mom or boyfriend or third grade PE coach- or anyone else that helped to create their current belief system. And they can stop blaming themselves. 

I believe blame has no place in coaching. 

But it’s understandable that so many clients have this fear before we start. 

Blame is a game our inner mean girl loves to play. 

What our lives look like, the money we’re making, the partner we are – or aren’t with, the happiness we think we should have and don’t – our inner mean girl loves to tell us that it’s all our fault. 

If you’ve dabbled in any self-help you can find plenty of evidence that lends credit to what our inner mean girl tells us. 

There’s a common thread in some self-help that feeds on this line of thinking. Your life is your responsibility. Only you got yourself here and only you can get yourself out. You’re not seeing the results you want because you’re not thinking/feeling/doing the right things. 

Of course there is a part of this that’s true. What we believe does hold us back – and it can also propel us forward. Our actions do have consequences – good and bad.

But that’s not to say we’re to blame for holding ourselves back.

I don’t blame any of my clients for being where they are when they come to me for coaching.

1. Blame is never helpful.

When we blame ourselves, it invokes feelings of frustration, shame or even anger. Our vision narrows, our minds get foggy, and it stifles our creativity. Nothing constructive happens when we’re in that state of mind.

2. Blame assumes there’s something wrong with our situation.

We don’t have to see something wrong in order to move forward. In fact, pushing off from a negative space will only land us in more negative space. No matter what our situation is – it’s not a failure. It’s just where we happen to be. And there’s so much in our situations from which to learn. 

3. Blame assumes there’s something inherently wrong with us.

Repeat after me: there’s nothing wrong with me. Nothing. We all make the best choices we can in life. Even when we look back and wonder “what was I thinking?!” If we answer that question, we were thinking that it was the best choice with the information we had. 

4. Blame holds us back.

Look. Feeling frustrated, ashamed, angry, and like our current situation is a fail does nothing to motivate us to work towards a better future. You may think it does, but any work you’re doing is despite feeling that way, not because of it. Clear all that gunk out of the way and you’ll make more headway than you thought you ever could. Promise. 

5. Blame is just plain mean.

Let’s all stop being so hard on ourselves.

Right about now you may be thinking – but don’t I have to take responsibility for my life? Yes. We all do.

But responsibility doesn’t have to come with blame. Responsibility is love. It’s caring, nurturing, and forgiving. Blame is not. 

Where can you change blame to responsibility? Where can you lighten that emotional load so you can carry on with the life you want?

It’s a great wake-up call. No tough love needed.