Self-blame refers to a person's tendency to consider themselves at fault, especially when things don't go as well as planned, even if the cause or events were beyond their control. A pattern of self-blame leads a person to feel constantly guilty and inferior.
Although the tendency to self-blame can make a person seem humble and unassuming, it can also inhibit them in becoming more creative and wanting to strive to do better.
People who have a persistent habit of blaming themselves for anything that goes wrong will usually avoid taking the initiative. This is because they prefer to stay inconspicuous so they won't receive extra (negatively perceived) attention, and in doing so, hope that others will have similar expectations of their capabilities.
Self-blame is also correlated with being self-critical.
Being self-critical is the act of telling ourselves negative and destructive thoughts, such as being inadequate, shameful, or a failure. We almost all have a tendency to be self-critical to some degree.
However, the problem begins when this becomes a habit; a negative, self-reinforcing loop. This is because constant self-criticism causes a person to become stuck with negative thoughts and emotions about themselves. They feel guilt and shame to the extent that they no longer feel any desire to achieve. If left unaddressed, this inaction can lead to depression or other mental health issues.
Self-criticism deprives an individual of being able to look at their own efforts or abilities objectively. It robs them of being able to engage in healthy self-reflection, which would allow them to be more accepting of any past mistakes.
A little bit of self-blame and self-criticism is okay.
We can get away with a little bit of self-blame and self-criticism occasionally. However, if we continually beat ourselves up and start to do it more often than not, then we may not be able to stop and do an objective reality check.
Remember, your mind is incredibly powerful. If you continually feed it with self-blaming and self-criticizing words, those words will get louder and more believed and ingrained. In turn this can increase your risk of developing anxiety or depression.
Self-blame and self-criticism can be beneficial to some degree.
They do help us 'get real' about ourselves. Sometimes we may be a little guilty of believing our own press. Some critical self-evaluation allows us to identify and accept our imperfections and take conscious steps to improve them. However, if self-blame and self-criticism become the norm, it can paralyze us into inaction.
Consequently, you will be hindered from achieving your full potential. Therefore, it's important to keep self-blame and self-criticism within healthy levels. Simply, it should be a feedback mechanism, not a tool for consistent self-deprecation.
Steps To Keep Your Self-Blaming and Self-Criticism In Check
Focus your criticism on your behavior.
Behaviors can be changed. This is why when your inner voice starts to be critical, it is time to address your behaviors. Be careful not to criticize your attributes, as you can't always change them, or need to. Your attributes are a part of your uniqueness.
If you blame yourself for not being super-intelligent, you run the risk of drowning in frustration and depression. If instead you more correctly blame or criticize your habit of spending too much time on your smartphone instead of studying, then chances are you can find ways to rectify the behavior, and therefore change the result.
Know the difference between taking responsibility and self-blaming.
Instead of being quick to blame or criticize yourself, try to assess the situation first. It is important that you look into every aspect of yourself, and see how your actions, inactions, and the words you have left unspoken, affected the entire outcome of the situation. Accept your mistakes and come up with ways on how you can improve yourself as well as the situation in the future.
Challenge your self-critical inner voice.
When your inner voice tells you that you are lazy, not worthy or inadequate, challenge these thoughts. Start by creating a journal of the things that you like about yourself, and your strengths. Creating this type of journal will help you appreciate yourself more and criticize yourself less.
If you work on improving yourself, your skills, abilities, and behavior you will find it easier to get rid of your negative self-critical inner voice.