If you’re here, I probably don’t have to tell you that self-blame is a very common side effect of trauma. Rather than holding the person who hurt us accountable, many of us tend to take responsibility and try to figure out where we went wrong. Well, I’m here to tell you to cut that shit out.
“We accept the love we think we deserve”
A lot of us were conditioned from a young age to take responsibility for things that were not ours to carry. We were led to believe that we had to be perfect in order to be worthy of love and that if we were treated poorly, it’s because we didn’t live up to those expectations. Rather than being ourselves, loving ourselves, accepting ourselves… We spend too much time trying to be someone else that we think is ‘worthy’ of being loved.
The quote “we accept the love we think we deserve” is one that has stuck with me for a long time. It was in the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky which has been one of my favorite books since I was in high school (it was made into a movie in 2012 and the line was perfectly delivered by Paul Rudd). I believe it perfectly describes why so many of us tolerate abusive behavior. Not only do we accept it, but take responsibility for it. We carry the blame and the shame and let ourselves be victimized because we do not believe that we deserve better.
Self-blame in order to get control.
I believe part of the reason we try to take responsibility for the trauma that we’ve endured is that we seek control. If it was our fault, if it was because of something we did- then that means there’s something that we can change which means we can protect ourselves in the future. This awful thing happened to me because I did this. So if I don’t do this again, the awful thing won’t happen again. We are taking control.
Self-blame is also common among empaths.
Often, empathetic people like to try to see the best in people. This makes it harder to place blame where it should be- on the aggressor. If we were to hold them responsible for their actions, we’d have to admit that maybe we were wrong about them. Maybe the good was never actually there and we were lying to ourselves the whole time. So now, not only are we victims, but we were wrong. It’s hard to admit and hard to accept. It ends up being easier to self-blame than to believe what we see with our own eyes- that this person is actually awful.
Stop accepting shitty behavior.
The first step is to love yourself enough to know that you deserve better. Establish boundaries and celebrate yourself rather than trying to figure out what you could have done differently. Stop trying to change yourself to fit what someone else thinks you should be and stop trying to be perfect. Accept yourself for who you are, forgive yourself for not knowing better, and recognize that you are enough.
You are worthy of love.
You are a person, which means that you are allowed to take up space. It means you are worthy of love and being treated well. You didn’t deserve to be hurt or abused or taken advantage of. Stop blaming yourself or trying to figure out what you can change about yourself. Thoughts like if I was smarter, if I was stronger, if I’d only done this instead… they do not serve you. By letting yourself fixate on these types of thoughts, you’re allowing your abuser to continue abusing you. You’re actually doing it for them! Instead, recognize that the issue was theirs and you were a victim. But you don’t have to be the victim any longer. Decide to love yourself instead.
You are not unlovable just because the wrong person couldn’t love you.
Start the healing process.
There are a lot of different ways you can start to heal from self-blame and trauma. Some of those ways are therapy, journaling, and meditation. I will be leading a video training this week in my private facebook group, from surviving to thriving, with some practices for stopping self-blame and moving forward in self-love. Head on over to join us!
(If you need a tag in the training, just let me know.)
And if you’d like some visual aids to help you on your journey to self-love, head on over to my etsy shop for affirmations, stickers, buttons, keychains and more.
If I leave you with just one thought, please let it be this: you are worthy of love.
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