Why Do We Self-Blame?

Many of us have a tendency to form unhealthy attachments to our emotions, and among the feelings we commonly become unhealthily attached to are our guilt, shame and self-blame. We instinctively blame ourselves for things that aren’t our fault. We hold onto our mistakes and wrongdoings long after they’ve stopped hurting anyone else, but for some reason we seem to be subconsciously determined to keep hurting ourselves. We can feel a rush of relief from our anxiety and other difficult emotions when we turn to our guilt instead. Because we’re internally very self-hating, our self-blame can feel comforting, as it’s reinforcing our limiting beliefs about our worth and deservingness, telling us that we were right to hate ourselves and blame ourselves.

We can form an addictive, dependent relationship with our self-blame, and it can function like any other addiction because we become dependent upon it, just as we do with a drug, to cope with our inner selves, our unresolved issues, and our pain. We avoid looking at our wounds by devoting our energy to blaming ourselves, judging and criticizing ourselves, and beating ourselves up. We distract ourselves from the other problems and issues in our lives by focusing on our self-blame instead. We escape the other sources of our pain by dwelling on our self-blame. We don’t work on our healing or confront the many sources of our unwellness because we’re giving our energy to blaming ourselves, being self-hating, and causing ourselves more pain in the process. Our self-blame becomes one of our many tools of self-destructiveness.

When we are self-blaming, it is often because we were conditioned from an early age to take on responsibility and ownership for things that weren’t ours to carry. We might have been part of a family whose dysfunction we absorbed and took on as our own. We might have been traumatized so deeply that we learned to devalue ourselves and blame ourselves for our own trauma. We might have experienced mental, emotional or physical abuse that we interpreted as being our fault, as being evidence of our shame and unworthiness. We may have been in relationships with people, whether romantic or platonic, who deflected the blame and never held themselves accountable for the ways in which they hurt us.

Our self-blame can originate from a number of sources, and the more we examine why we’ve developed this self-destructive pattern, the more we can work to heal from it alongside all our other mental and emotional afflictions.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.