Breaking the Cycle of Automatic Self Blame


self blame ~mental health

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being” Hafiz

Have you ever noticed that when you are driving a vehicle, some of the things you do are automatic? I don’t really think about using my turn indicator when I am about to turn a corner; it is so automatic that I often find myself indicating when I come to the corner in my own laneway.  When the brake lights come light up on the car in front of me, it is automatic for me to touch my breaks too.

When you are making the bed, or doing the dishes do you think about what you are doing, or are you thinking about something else? These types of mundane everyday tasks become habitual and automatic.

It is the same with the way that we think about ourselves. It was habitual for me to think that I was not as valuable as others; it was so deeply inside of me that I was not at all conscious of how I viewed myself or how deep my belief was. My mother often told me that I was selfish and I believed her. When I went to a 12 step program, it was very easy for me to agree that the root of my problem was selfishness and self centeredness, but it was not positive for me to believe that because my view of myself was wrong to begin with.  Because my belief systems and my view of self were so skewed, even self help books and programs were not helpful for me in the ways they were meant to be and very often had a negative effect on me. I did not realize this until I stepped back and decided to take a deep look at the beginning and where the confusion started.

Getting back to the beginning was kind of like navigating a deep dark cave with long winding tunnels and scary obstacles. Carrying a flashlight that only worked some of the time made it even more frightening. I was afraid that I would get lost in the dark and that I would end up hurting even more. I was afraid that I would get stuck there and be forever in the painful part of the process. I was so afraid of the repressed memories; I was almost positive that I would remember something that I could not deal with. I was afraid that I would discover that it was my fault after all; that I deserved what had happened to me, that I had indeed brought it on myself and even asked for it. I was afraid because I thought the lies were the truth and the truths were lies.

In my mind’s eye, there lived a little girl who was about two years old. She lived alone in an attic; it was very cold and dark with only one broken window letting in a bit of light. She was filthy dirty, wearing a sleeveless and tattered little dress, which barely covered her bottom. Her face was streaked with dirt and tears, her hair a tangled mass and she was cold. She was unable to speak, and she clung to a broken dirty dolly. I had no idea why I had this image of this little girl in my mind, but eventually I knew that she was me and that was the self image that I had deep inside of me. No one cared; no one even knew she was there. No one was coming to rescue her and she knew it. That hope had died years ago. When I realize that she was me, I had to rescue myself.

The key is to keep going. Keep navigating that cave. Find your beginning and go from there. Have the courage to keep striving towards the goal, believing that freedom is on the other side. Keep going. On the days that you doubt with every fibre of your being that you can have this too, come visit me here for little bit of encouragement. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Darlene Ouimet

36 response to "Breaking the Cycle of Automatic Self Blame"

  1. By: Bonnie Boulkam Posted: 2nd March

    Dear Darlene
    I wish I could have been as succinct in my own self experiences, I need to explore the cave but not sure how to begin, or process the information I gather, my mother was extremely abusive too me and like a magnet my adult relationships have been more abusive and now my children, it HAS to be my fault but then that is delusions of grandeur, I have no idea where to begin, I see me as the rag doll that this bright red, ranting, saliva flying, curly haired monster has picked off the floor by my shoulders, shaking me with my head lolling back and forth, being subjected to the loudest verbal abuse, she freely admits that she’s hated me since birth, that I was the cause of all her ills, I have memories of her being cruel to me from 18mths onwards and have tried to believe it’s the longest case of post natal depression ever, but still can’t ‘let it go’, thankyou I hope that I can stop blaming myself one day, I’m now 56yrs and it has affected my entire life and every relationship I had in the past and still have.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 2nd March

      Hi Bonnie
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken
      I had no idea where to begin either. There was nothing ‘easy’ about doing this work. In my e-book I took a lot of my writing about how I put all of this together and built the foundation which I live on now and I re-ordered it to make it more understandable. A lot of people use it as a workbook ~ perhaps this might be something helpful to you as well.
      I finally stepped away from self-blame and today my entire life is different; I live. I laugh and I know that I never deserved the way I was defined. I wish the same for you.
      Thanks for sharing, I hope you will keep sharing and reading here.
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: DXS Posted: 12th June

    Self Blame. WHOA! If I am working with a team, and something goes wrong, I AUTOMATICALLY assume it was something *I* did. Or if something goes wrong in the vicinity of where I am, even if I KNOW I had nothing to do with it, I just automatically assume somehow it’s my fault. wow, now I know where that is coming from.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th June

      Hi Jamie and DXS
      “Automatically” is a big clue. I had to look at the reasons behind why it was so easy for me to assume/accept blame. Why did I ‘believe’ that I deserved the way I was treated and that I even ’caused it to happen. It was the answers to those questions that led me to freedom and wholeness.
      Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

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