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The Unhealthy Truth Behind Self-Blame & Self-Criticism

People who have a persistent habit of blaming themselves for anything that goes wrong will usually avoid taking the initiative. Preferring to stay inconspicuous so they won't receive extra (negatively perceived) attention; hoping that others assume similar expectations of their capabilities. and leave them alone.

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.

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.

How ever the problem begins, it can become 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 mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

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.

To avoid comparing ourselves to perfection, sometimes we do need to 'be real' with ourselves. 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. Looking at the reality of the situation and putting things into perspective does not mean you have to blame yourself.

Remember, your mind is incredibly powerful. If you continually feed it with negative thoughts and criticizing words, those words will get louder, you will start to believe them and they will become ingrained. In turn, this can increase your risk of developing anxiety or depression.

Consequently, you will be hindered from achieving your full potential. Therefore, it's important to keep self-blame and self-criticism at healthy levels. 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 cell phone or social media 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. Check out my prompted self-love journal here.

Self-criticism is only going to keep you stuck—especially if it’s fueling depression and anxiety. Replacing disapproval and judgment with self-compassion allows you to accept your flaws, real or perceived, in a way that strengthens mental wellness. 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.

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