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It's Time To Offload Blame: Understanding Blame & Why Your Childhood Experiences Have Turned You Into a Blame Absorber

Blame is about the sense that you've done something wrong, that you've committed some sort of misdeed, and that you're responsible for why something is happening. It's really important in the process of building your self-esteem to understand what blame actually is and to differentiate between that and responsibility and accountability but more importantly, to also gain some understanding on why you may have a tendency to blame you in the first place.

Having high self-blame inclinations is likely to have begun in childhood whether it was parents or caregivers, being bullied, a very difficult experience that you struggled to overcome, or what is likely the combination of a series of different events. You've made a judgement about you that needs to be overturned.

When you blame you for everything especially Other Peoples Behaviour, much of this idea of blaming you rests on this concept that, if you were a more worthwhile and valuable person, if you were good enough, if you didn't ever disappoint and always met people's expectations, if you did this or you did that, then then you would have a different outcome.

It's this idea that you would have a better life, you'd be happier, 'approved of', you'd have had your parents behave in certain ways and certain bad experiences wouldn't have happened, and all of these things contribute to it basically being like a one person organisation where you have a blame culture, and then you may also have come from a 'family organisation' where there was also a blame culture where the very people who you expect to be nurtured and parented by and for them to really show you the way, to teach certain values, were not very good at taking responsibility. What happens in any blame culture is that productivity is down, fingers get pointed, and nobody really progresses because it's difficult to learn anything when the only 'insight' anyone claims to have is on who to pin the blame on.

The same issue will also arise if you're from a family that never talks about things - silence can communicate blame, shame, or just leave you with too much time on your hands to ruminate and essentially make sh*t up without realising the consequences on your self-esteem.

Some people blame themselves because it's just been their default response to everything from when they were very little. They took a series of events and then blamed themselves and then that just kind of opened the way for them to blame themselves. It's just been the default mechanism - it's the only thing they've ever known and some people have actually had parents verbally blame them or indicate blame through physical punishment, or something being withdrawn or done that is perceived to be punishment, so in turn it appears that they've blamed the child.

After a while, we can have a "It's my football and nobody else is going to play with it" Mentality about blame. Its like we don't want to share out the blame or even apportion it to the appropriate person - we hold onto clinging to it like a security blanket. We're actually almost possessive of this thing and so it becomes "If I don't get to take all of this blame then you're going to have to take all of the blame (because it's like one extreme or the other) so I'm just going to hold onto my proverbial football."

When you hog up all the blame it actually stops you from seeing something that's a really really painful truth (but often freeing), normally about the people and the situation, and yes it also stops you from really gaining any insight about what your own contribution may be. It stops you when you're an adult from being truly responsible and accountable which has got jack all to do with blame.

At this stage in your life, it's time to ask what the point of all of this is? If you're looking to build your self-esteem, what purpose does it serve you to be a blame hogger? While we all have very specific reasons, there's a choice (even if it's a default choice because it's a habit that you've always had) but nonetheless it is a choice and you have to learn how to make different choices. Ultimately, all of this taking blame is like sitting in the middle of your own rubbish dumb. It's time to clean up!

Having a contribution does not make you entirely responsible for the situation.

You can only take 100% of the blame in a situation where you are the only person - the only other time where you could take the blame for something is if you commit a crime against the person because you know, even somebody who has neglected to close their window doesn't make it right or lessen your responsibility for breaking into their home.

With respect to your interpersonal relationships you cannot take responsibility for the Other Person's Behaviour.

You most certainly if it's with respect to a child and adult dynamic, cannot and must not take any responsibility for neglect, abuse, or any other behaviour that you've experienced particularly if the type of blame you take is built on your worth and acceptability as a person.

If you trace your way back to where your issue with blame has started, it is to do with something where you have shared the blame in it.

You 'shared' the blame with your parents - I can say with 100% certainty that's it's very far from being 'equitable' blame either - even though you were a child and you should not and could never be responsible for their inadequacies. ------------> In adult life, you 'share' the blame with everyone.

The problem with taking equitable blame with your parents in childhood is you set yourself up for a life of feeling that you've taken responsibility and waiting for the other person to change. It's why a lot of people spend most of their adult lives trying to get their parents to change as they feel like they 'can't' move on unless they do. It's like "own your part!" and then they wind up really frustrated, hurt, and with their lives whooshing by in a Groundhog Day marathon of playing out the same family stuff. It's not that your parents or certain others 'shouldn't' change but there comes a point when you have to ask why you're still trying to get them to change when you could be getting on with your own life? Them not changing has zero reflection on you and 100% reflection on them. They're set in their ways. With responsibility comes insights and you know, some people would rather stick their head in the sand and stick with what they know. I have two of these parents and I haven't let them stop me from changing in my own life.

At its extreme, you take the blame for everything with your parents "I'm not loveable" "I'm not good enough" "I am a disappointment" "I invited these consequences" ----------> You take the blame for everyone else.

You're a Blame Absorber soaking up everything like high absorbancy kitchen roll, only yours doesn't seem to squeeze out anything because you don't squeeze it out - you just keep mopping.

True sharing of the blame is 'owning your own' and this is what you do as an adult.

  • Each person has their own responsibilities.
  • Each person has a choice in how they respond
    • Passive response
    • Active response (assertive which would be respectful)
    • Passive aggressive response (say one thing, do another and vice versa)
    • Aggressive response (force and disrespect)

As a child, especially if you were a baby, toddler, young child, you are in no uncertain terms responsible for anything that your parents have done.

As a teenager, while you continue to learn about responsibility and accountability for things that you do, you are still never, ever, ever, ever, ever responsible for abuse, neglect, or your parents behaviour.

We have choices about how we choose to behave, even if some things even appear instinctive. There are parents who have experienced abuse who never abuse - this is a choice, self-control, self-knowledge, working on themselves.

We have choices about who we choose to behave. Yes we may respond in a certain way because something triggers, but that's a choice.We can claim provocation - in the end we have to evaluate why we chose to respond in the way that we did.

Your parents, if they have abused, neglected you, or behaved in ways that communicated a lack of love, care, trust and respect could have behaved differently and the fact that they didn't is not your fault.

It is their character and their own inadequacies. Our parents aren't infallible - they surely do eff up. They are not always right and if they have done anything that amounts to neglect, abuse, being unavailable, then they have definitely been doing things in a way that is unproductive to the emotional health of the family and them raising you.

The fact that your parents have inadequacies is not the creation or manifestation of your supposed inadequacies, especially as a child.

"I'm unlovable. If I were more lovable they would ___________________"

"If I were worth more, my parents would have _____________________"

Why are you being accountable for having being neglected?

Why are you being accountable for having being abused whether it was verbal, physical, emotional, and/or sexual?

Why are you willing to take all of the blame for it?

As an adult, it then becomes

"I'm still unlovable. If I were more lovable my ex/friend/boss would ___________________"

"If I were worth more, my ex/friend/boss would have _____________________"

Why are you still being accountable for what others do and be or fail to?

Blame creates a victim role and it doesn't serve you. It doesn't. Yeah it might 'serve' you in a way of keeping you on the path of least resistance but it will make you very miserable in the process.

You're also no longer a child - you never had to think this way or take the blame in the first place, and you don't have to now. You don't have to continue being a Blame Absorber.

As I said to my mother a while back, "It's only as an adult now that I realise that I'm not to blame for how you and my 'father' behaved. It's not your fault that I drew those conclusions - I was a child seeing things through a child's eyes. I drew my own conclusions and they were distorted, just like most kids are. But you know...it would have been a lot harder to stick with those conclusions if you hadn't reinforced them with your treatment of me." Yes, I said it.

I have blamed me for a lot of things as a child. It's why, according to my mother, she doesn't have a single photograph of me smiling. I've only really learned how to smile since I let go of all the bullshit blame in my life and learned how to be happy. I took on a lot; I was an astute kid, observant, and able to pick up on the emotions around me. I felt hated. I was treated with contempt at times. I told her as much. She sounded horrified and I gave her examples (thrown out every birthday from 13 to 18, being called names, being called a failure and a disappointment, being punished for getting things wrong, being hit, being accused of doing things that I wasn't, and being blamed even for date rape even when I hadn't even been on a date...) and she admitted that she had been so scared of me turning out like her family or even in some respects like her, or even her father, that she went to the extreme and also in some respects, repeated her own mother's behaviour).

I say all of this because I've read all of your stories and I know that I'm not alone. It doesn't even have to be extremes - it's the criticism, the being taught that it's wrong to disappoint, that you must meet their expectations or being blamed for why they treat you in a particular way. It's the waiting to be given affection that never comes or comes in spurts. It's watching disparities between the treatment of you and others. It's feeling like you cannot catch a break. It's feeling lonely in a house full of people. It's feeling abandoned. It's feeling like you just want to disappear. It's feeling like you have no worth. It's trying to get attention from others so that you can feel better and then winding up in problems during the process and blaming you even more. It's trying to see the best in people, giving trust and having adults take advantage and then have your parents or other people around you blame you or make out like you experiencing abuse is an inconvenience to their social lives. It's feeling like you told the truth and then something bad happened so it must be your fault. It's being taught that if you play nice and don't complain or express feelings then you will be more acceptable. It's feeling like you're pleasing the unpleasable. It's being bullied or feeling lonely and feeling like it's some sort of sign of your worth as a person. It's taking bad advice from well meaning parents so after they tell you that it's so and so's fault that their husband cheated or whatever, you think it's your fault when people treat you a certain way too.

I get it. We get it. A lot of people get it.

At some point, you have to give up the whole blame thing. You've got to throw the football. You may need to pass it around mentally or even say it out loud. You may even get the opportunity to pass the football through actions or words with them, only it won't be a blame football, it will be a responsibility one.

You and blame are like a bad marriage - you know you should leave but you keep hanging on thinking that if you stick out this whole blame thing for long enough, something will change. Something will change when you realise that seeing your issues with Blame Binoculars is the problem in the first place.

The problem is not your worth as a person. You have the worth; you just have too much blame on you.

To build your self-esteem, you must process the blame you're carrying.

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