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Responsibility vs Self-blame

Updated: May 12, 2023

When I was in the midst of my relationship anxiety, I was trying everything in my control to get better and figure out why I felt the way I did.

So, when the things I was trying didn’t alleviate my constant anxiety, it made me feel really disheartened and depressed. It made me want to give up on the best and healthiest relationship I ever had and at times, if I am honest, on myself too.

I was trying really hard to take responsibility for how I felt. And, don’t get me wrong, taking responsibility for ourselves and trying to be proactive in seeking solutions to the problems we face internally and/or externally, is a good thing. But only when you approach it with the right mindset.

Back then I was equating taking responsibility for myself with blaming myself for how I felt.

Taking responsibility for yourself isn’t the same thing as blaming yourself.

Let me explain.

In my example, instead of seeking to work constructively with my anxiety, I was trying to control an outcome (stop feeling anxious) with controlling behaviours towards myself (‘forcing’ myself to meditate, methodically taking my herbal supplements etc).

I was also taking on more than what was actually mine. By that, I mean being so constantly self-aware about the things I was doing that were contributing to my anxiety, that I forget about the actual things around me that were also contributing to it.

I was approaching taking responsibility for myself as beating myself with a stick to force myself to ‘get better’.

This is something I see time and time again in my coaching practice: too often we equate taking responsibility for ourselves, with picking up a stick and beating ourselves with it to make sure we keep moving towards our end goal.

The truth is the intention and mindset with which we approach the actions toward the end-goal are often more important than the actions themselves.

When clients set themselves goals or objectives but fail to achieve them they often:

  • Blame themselves

  • Blame others or external circumstances

  • Give up on their vision, dreams, or relationship because they feel like it’s not meant to be

  • End up right where they started, feeling disheartened because they feel like they didn’t succeed at least long term

If this is you, let me tell you. There is nothing wrong with you. But it also doesn’t have to be that way.

When you approach responsibility with blame, with “should”, with this hard tone, with this figure of authority or ‘ruler’ what you do is try to use force to motivate you to get the outcome you desire.

Let me save you a lot of pain, this strategy never works long-term.

You cannot and will never be able long term to motivate yourself to move towards your goal or vision by being rigid and controlling towards yourself.

It doesn’t set you up for success. At best you might be able to keep up the efforts for a while. At worst, it will damage your confidence in your abilities to achieve your vision and make you want to give up on your vision.

If you are keen to take the direction of the results you’re getting in love or life, feel moved towards that goal in a way that feels easy, purposeful AND enjoy the process along the way, here is what you can do instead:

  1. Make a commitment to become more self-awareness

  2. Practice meeting yourself with curiosity and compassion instead of judgment

  3. Get curious about what are your conscious inner barriers to reaching your vision and goals, what fears does that bring up for you?

  4. Know that resistance is a normal part of the transformation process and how to meet it when it shows up

  5. Get curious about your unconscious and how it might be affecting your ability to get what you want

  6. Be humble enough to know that you haven’t completely figured it out YET and that’s OK, it just makes you humane.

If you’ve been struggling with a goal or vision you have for 2023, and are ready to break the start-stop cycle of motivation/disappointment, I still have availability for 1:1 coaching starting this month. Get in touch to discuss options for how I can best support you!

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