Self-blame is a coping mechanism. And it is futile.

People like to feel in control of their lives. And because so much of life is really out of control, we try to reassert some influence over our own lives. We grasp for any sense of control – sometimes, by blaming ourselves for a situation we find ourselves in or for something that happened to us.

By blaming ourselves, we are attempting to create a sense of control – that I could have done something different and there would have been a different outcome. Of course, it’s a false sense of control; but for many people, even a perception of control feels better than the total loss of control.

It’s the false notion that I could have controlled the past and therefore I can influence or control the future.

Blaming oneself adds more pain to the situation. Unnecessarily. The momentary relief of feeling a bit more in control comes at a high cost when we rely on self-blame to reassert influence over our own life.

Instead, assess the situation objectively, with curiosity. Sometimes, there really wasn’t anything you could have done to prevent the situation. If there is something for you to take responsibility for, learn what needs to learned and move past it. You will free up so much energy and mental space that you can use for a happier and more productive life.

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