Feel Like Everything is Your Fault? 5 Tips To Break The Cycle

Feel Like Everything is Your Fault? 5 Tips To Break The Cycle

Welcome to the 2nd part of this two part blog series, in which we focus on feelings of fault – more specifically, feeling like everything is your fault. It can big fault or little fault, it can be fault that is not actually yours to bear, but you feel it, you internalize it, you feel guilty nonetheless.

Blech, who needs that?

Part 1 – I Believe Everything is My Fault: Here’s 3 Reasons Why – came out last week. The purpose of it was to give you some context about my personal experience with fault and involved me doing a deep-dive into why I believe this and project this belief onto myself. My reasons why may have resonated with your reasons why, and if they do – amazing. This week’s post is where I give you solutions to halt the belief that everything is your fault, as well as counter feelings of excessive fault and guilt. These are solutions which I continue to use and put into practice, when I find unnecessary fault arising within me.

Solution 1. Recognize that you are not your thoughts

Alternative Title: Confront your reality

One of my biggest concerns when it comes to excessive feelings of fault/guilt, as well as overthinking, is that once I experience feelings of fault, they make a nice little home for themselves in my mind and stay put. Once they’ve taken up residence, I have a really hard time:

  • a.) Letting the thought go (and when I try to let it go, it usually stays put even more);
  • b.) Not viewing the thought as true (I think them, therefore they must be valid/my reality/accurate), but most importantly within the context of Solution 1;
  • c.) Not viewing the thought as an extension of me (I think them, therefore they are a part of me/they are me).

Sure, you think these thoughts, there’s no denying they came from your noggin’ (unless this is some alternate reality with a government who’s implanted micro-chips into the brains of it’s citizens which enforces mind control dear god I am spiraling down some deep dark rabbit hole of conspiracy theories asdfmlgh send help).

Sure, they pertain to your lived experiences… but they can also attack your lived experiences, they can become negative and self-harming, they can lead you to act out on impulses and feelings which may not be in your best interest. They can influence you to believe something which is not true (a la Lindsay is a garbage human being who can’t get anything right and everything is her fault). They can cramp your style and make you feel like shit about yourself.

But just because your mind sways you to believe such things…. Are they your reality? Are they truly you? I would wager the answer to those questions is no. Asking yourself such questions can really help you to recognize that you are not your thoughts and assist in unwinding your brain from whichever twisted path it’s found itself on.

Does it feel like you are truly at fault for everything? Yes.

In reality, are you truly at fault for everything? No.

Does it feel like you are a horrible human being who’s screwing up constantly? Yes. In reality, are you actually a human being like everybody else on this planet, who occasionally is at fault and makes mistakes but are able to learn from them and become a better human as a result? Yes.

Key Take Away:

The reality of you, the “lived you”, is so much more heartfelt, kick-ass, hardworking, authentic and gentle than your mind’s perception of you. Frankly, it’s about time you sent your mind for a time-out in the quiet corner because it hasn’t been doing you any favors.
If you are having trouble inwards, seek council outwards through family and friends when you are waging war against your inner thoughts. Your loved ones might be shocked you think such things of yourself at first, but my guess is they will proceed to calm you down and give you a boost like those stars you can run into for invincibility in Mario Kart.
Credit – Giphy

Solution 2. Practice Mindful Visualization Techniques

Alternative Title: Watch Your Thoughts Fall Off a Cliff

One evening, I found my mind veering into it’s all your fault territory – primarily over concerns about an upcoming interview and it going badly (more so a fear of failure and a lack of belief in myself), as well as feeling guilty for taking a mental health/sick day. Despite waking up feeling physically and mentally crappy, my mind turned on me and said “you are letting your office/colleagues down, you should feel bad about it“. I’d also had a great track record of no sick days the entirety of my employment, and had up until that point wore that as some sort of badge of honor. So I also felt guilty over breaking that streak in some weird, twisted way.

Rather than lie awake, staring at the ceiling, dwelling on the supposed horrible human I was, I decided to mentally visualize my negative thoughts coming and going.

Credit – Giphy

Mindfulness can be a fantastic tool to practice remaining in the present moment throughout the comings and goings of our often busy lives. We can use it to build up the mental strength to recognize negative thoughts or thoughts which do not serve us well that are present in our mind, to acknowledge and accept these thoughts, but not give them the attention they crave or seek. However, when we add in a visual element mentally, it can especially help to elevate the practice of mindfulness in that we can picture the thoughts as exiting or being dispelled from the mind.

A common example is imagining your thoughts are clouds in the sky drifting by. You see them, you acknowledge them, but no need to fixate or focus on them, they’ll just float by. The physical action of a cloud floating by and out of our view, can assist in ridding ourselves of negative thoughts. Another example could be visualizing your thoughts falling off of a cliff. If you’ve ever watched the Roadrunner cartoons, envision your thoughts as a cartoon Wil.E. Coyote hovering over then falling off a cliff, where he usually finds himself amidst his pursuit of the Roadrunner.

Credit – Giphy

In my instance, I visualized myself standing on a subway platform. My thoughts are the subway cars that have pulled into the station. I can choose to get on the subway and ride along with those thoughts and be carried away. Or, I can stay on the platform, watch the doors close and the subway cars pull away down the track and disappear into the tunnel.

Key Take Away

When we add in visualization techniques, we allow ourselves further room in our minds to visualize unwanted or unhelpful thoughts and feelings, coming and going. Visualizing can also provide a physical end result in our mind’s eye, which allows us to dispel the negative thought even further.

Solution 3. Work to Care Less and Recognize What You Can Control

Alternative Title: Becoming a Human Who Feels Less Fault May Involve You Giving Less of a Shit.

Credit – Giphy

I’ve said it before that if there’s a reason I fixate on things, it’s because I care. This is true – I care and take pride in my work, and I care about my relationships with family, friends and romantic partners…. but sometimes too much. And caring too much has had a fun little side-effect of making me feel guilty and at fault about things I don’t need to.

So i’m working to take things a little less personally and give slightly less of a shit.

Take a look at this notmadeupin30minutesusingMicrosoftWord entirely real, data-driven bar chart of how my levels of caring are improving – isn’t it an amazing scientific feat??

Recognizing what you can and can not control will also help you to care less too. Can you control how much you contribute to a project at work? Can you control that your kids’ lunches are made, that they make it to school on time? Can you control how to respond before reacting in heated situations with your partner, with friends, with strangers through mental progress?

Can you control people’s opinions about you? Can you control the outcome of a project? Can you control if your partner’s feelings towards you will always stay the same?

These are all just examples, but the point I want to hit home with you here, is that if you can not control an aspect of your life (for example, people’s opinions, or the outcome of a situation), why would you (also, why should you) continue to concern yourself with it, or care about it? I know first-hand that it can be really hard to not concern yourself with what people think about you, but by concerning yourself with an outcome or an aspect of your life which you have no control over, this will only bring you more stress, anxiety and worry. The outcome will be whatever the outcome will be – all you can do is try to be a good human and try to do your best throughout the process leading up to the outcome.

Credit – Giphy

Of course I get it – there are many facets in your life that you cherish and you care about and by extension have or don’t have control over, but there’s a fine line between caring and caring too much. If caring too much is making you feel at fault or guilty for things that you have no reason to feel at fault or guilty for, then release thy grip on giving thy shit.

Key Take Away:

In the most respectful way I can say this – Care less and Chill out – about work, about your critical inner voice who holds you back from doing what you want to do, about people’s opinions of your very valid, very sacred hopes, dreams, decisions, opinions, choices, and especially about if you mess up (because it will continue to happen – welcome to the realm of being a flawed human, here’s your membership card).

Solution 4. Give Your Fault a Deadline, then Let It Go

Alternative Title: Leave Your Fault in the Dust

Credit – Giphy

Recognizing and owning up to when you are actually at fault within a situation can be humbling, but to be able to forgive yourself for being at fault, to make peace with it and to be able to move forward, is where true empowerment lies.

Let’s say you’ve found yourself in a situation in which you are legitimately at fault – i’m not talking made up fault in your head, or something out of your control which went poorly, which you then internalize as your fault – i’m talking, you f****d up. Thereafter, you’ve addressed the person and/or the situation directly, you’ve taken the steps to right the wrongs, you’ve asked the other person how you can make amends, you’ve expressed remorse and you’ve apologized. As far as i’m concerned, all of the core components of a respectful make up process have been completed.

If you still feel at fault after the situation has been resolved, I suggest giving your feelings of fault a deadline. You can’t allow yourself to continue to live in the past if the situation has been addressed and resolved. However, this is not always an easy thing to do when you are someone who tends to feel a lot of fault, or even someone who overthinks. The deadline can be however far in the future you want – it’s ultimately up to you however long you need. So long as you take the time before your self-imposed deadline to recognize your feelings associated with the fault and to make peace with those feelings. Once the deadline has come and gone, the fault stays behind with that deadline, and you move forward, with a peaceful and clear mind and conscience.

Credit – Giphy

Key Take Away:

Recognize when you are legitimately at fault, feel remorseful/bad/sorry/sad whatever other emotion you need to express and/or experience to work through the process, make amends as best you can, give yourself a deadline if needed, then move on for your sake.

Solution 5. Be Mindfully Present in Conversations

Alternative Title: Avoid ‘Boy Who Cried’ Wolf Behavior

Apologies are often (or, are) a by-product of feelings of fault.

I messed up + I am at fault = I should apologize

But as I touched upon last week, sometimes feeling of fault come about when we have no reason to feel at fault – when we haven’t messed up or done anything to warrant those feelings. Then the equation may look more like this:

I messed up + I am at fault = I should apologize

I am one of those individuals who apologizes excessively, or who apologizes for things which don’t warrant an apology.

I realized that as I became more excessive in apologizing, the less legitimate the act of apologizing and the apology itself became – it became less valuable. It’s a boy who cried wolf lesson in apologetic behavior – the more I apologized and tossed my “sorry” around, the less the apology carried true weight, and the less meaningful it felt when I apologized for something which I was legitimately at fault for.

Credit – Giphy

At the beginning of 2020, I made it one of my goals to say sorry less, to gradually reduce the times I find myself apologizing for things which do not need an apology; a goal i’m glad to report I have stuck with. I became more mindful of what I was about to say before I said it, I changed my responses so sorry wasn’t my default. As I became more mindful of when I said sorry, I also found myself being more present in conversations with others. Because I no longer allowed myself to run on apology auto-pilot, I had to ensure I was attentive to what others were asking of me or were saying. Only then was I able to focus on if my apology in the moment was really warranted (no Joyce I haven’t seen the copy room stapler, I ain’t apologizing because I haven’t seen it.).

Key Takeaway:

Be mindfully present in conversations – don’t zone out. Recognize there is power within an apology, but there is also power in playing a conscious role in knowing when to say it.

I hope you will find these solutions helpful – even just the act of writing them out for you has helped me so much and I thank you for reading. If you have solutions which you use in your own time to counter feelings of fault or guilt, feel free to share them in the comments below!

I Believe Everything Is My Fault: Here’s 3 Reasons Why

I Believe Everything Is My Fault: Here’s 3 Reasons Why

Welcome to Feelings of Fault: A 2 part blog series. Part one is out today. Part two will come out next Monday.

If the title has brought you here in search of some reassurance to calm your own anxious tendencies towards the fault you feel lies within you (or maybe you just want to read why I blame myself for everything, which is fair too I suppose), I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Not because you won’t get the reassurance you’re looking for but this is only part 1. This is where I tell you about all the reasons I tend to (or more accurately, I believe I tend to) manifest and convince myself of the horrible, awful, negative belief that everything that goes wrong in my life is my fault.

Part 2 may be more your style – it’s encouraging, it’s positive, it’s proactive. But in order to get the full bang for your buck out of the tips in Part 2, I think it’s important to preface it with the why’s of this belief. For me, if I can get the why’s out in the open, it helps me move forward. So while I could jump straight into being tip queen extraordinaire for you, dear reader, the method which I approach this 2 part series is a personal one, one which I use to go through the motions.

So have a seat, pour yourself a bevvy and let a gal walk you through how she is a work in progress in clearing her existing belief that all fault is hers to bear.

Credit – Giphy

Of course, there will be times in life when we are legitimately at fault. We will have genuinely hurt someone’s feelings, we’ll have screwed up, we’ll have dropped the ball, sometimes people are accidentally at fault. Being legitimately at fault goes hand in hand with the fact that nobody is perfect – if we were all perfect, nobody would ever be at fault.

But there’s also irrational fault – instances in which you could not have controlled the outcome of a situation or an event, but something goes awry and you blame yourself for the outcome. It’s a legitimate fault, wherein you dropped the ball on a task but it’s easy to fix, or make amends and move beyond it – but you are still fixated on blaming yourself and how originally, it was your fault. Instances in which there’s no actual reason to feel at fault (i.e. expressing your opinions or making a decision that is in your best interest) but you feel guilty and remorseful nonetheless.

You know those people who apologize excessively, or apologize for things that don’t need an apology?

Hi hello – I am one of those people.

Credit – Giphy

I experience irrational feelings of fault quite often, especially the one where I have no actual reason to feel at fault or feel guilty but I still do. It’s in these moments I want to step outside my body, look myself in the eyes and shake my shoulders with a good hard “What, Why?! Why are you apologizing?! You’re just being you?! You’re doing what’s best for you/what you want to do?!

Existing with the belief that everything is my fault (as well as guilt – a by-product of this belief) has stretched to all corners near and far of my life – it appears in my work, my relationships, and my family matters.

It’s something going wrong during a work event which I couldn’t have controlled or prevented. It’s getting upset over something insignificant in the early stages of a relationship, leaving me feeling like i’ve burst the invisible bubble surrounding our blissful honeymoon phase. It’s feeling guilty of a decision i’ve made to do with family, when I have no reason to feel guilty. Even further, it’s not feeling confident enough to firmly stand my ground in my decision and what I have chosen.

It’s a quietly loud aspect of my existence, it’s an insecure piece of my personality, it’s a crack in my confidence and feeling valid in my decision-making and the actions I take as a result of those decisions.

Feeling like everything is your fault is an exhausting, unnecessary burden – a burden that nobody is placing on me, except for me.

Do you know what feeling like everything is your fault, truly is though?

AN UNHEALTHY MENTAL RUT THAT I REFUSE TO GET STUCK IN ANY LONGER.

And what do I do to work past unhealthy mental ruts as I do with all aspects of my overthinking cranium on this site?

DO THE HOKEY POK– ah okay well, no.

What do you mean no hokey pokey???
Credit – Giphy

If the hokey pokey was the answer to all of my concerns, my negative thought patterns and behaviors, I probably would have hokey pokey’d all my limbs off by this point.

DIGGING UP AND FACING THE EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL ROOTS OF OUR PROBLEMS – yeaaah, that’s the right answer *finger guns*

I began to take a really good look at myself, to get to the bottom of why this chronic thought seemed to be pinning me down and preventing me from simply shaking off and moving past whatever had been the subject of the fault. These are the reasons I have come up with thus far.

Why #1. I take things toooo personally

Credit – Giphy

I’ve begun to pick up on the fact my mom now begins conversations she thinks I will lash out at her on, with “Now don’t take offense to this but…“. Not to her discredit, but isn’t that horrible? My own mother has to use a disclaimer because she thinks i’ll blow my head off if she says something critical of me.

A similar situation took place with my ex. Towards the end of the relationship, he told me he felt like he couldn’t talk to me about things that concerned him, so he walked on eggshells for fear what he said would set me off. After telling me this, I started to feel like not only this concern, but everything that had gone wrong up till that point between us, was my fault (which kind of proves his point but also kind of is the main topic of this post, so it works both ways).

I continue to go back and review what were triggers in past situations and work on myself in identifying possible triggers. However, I can’t seem to reach high enough, to where I can step outside of myself in a moment when I am triggered and recognize it’s not always a personal attack if someone is critical about something i’ve said, something i’ve done or how i’ve acted.

To add to all this, I care deeply about producing quality work within my job, as well as meeting the needs of my colleagues around me, but this care also means that I take my work too damn personally. I am a hard-worker, make no mistake about that, but I also believe within this context, my care stemmed from a very negative experience early on within my workplace.

When I first started within my current position, my manager at the time basically left me to my own devices. Believe me when I say I had zero training, none, despite a complete section on our Human Resources site about on-boarding new employees – all of which I discovered on my own. It got so bad, that my manager’s manager, became my manager. He recognized what was going on, but was pulled in too many directions to be able to do anything about it – the timing was off. Of course I asked questions, but the majority of those first few months there I had little to no support and I was left to figure out processes on my own. As a result, I made a lot of mistakes and unintentionally upset people because I hadn’t received proper training.

I can look back now and tell myself it was a time in my life I persevered, I pulled myself out of it, I got a hang of my work and the processes, I was a kick-ass self-starter. I can tell myself now it would have been more beneficial to my well-being at the time, to recognize the outcomes were a result of the situation I found myself in, not because I was a poor employee.

But I couldn’t see the bigger picture, and I took my mistakes and the blame I received really hard… and really personally. I am someone who prides themselves on good, hard work, simply put, but no matter the effort I put in, the outcome consistently led to mistakes for a time. Also add in the fact I was a new employee, throw in first impressions are everything when you start somewhere new, and it led to me not feeling very good about myself.

Since then, despite 2 management change-overs (the original one being terminated, eventually), and glowing reviews of my attention to detail and working as a jill-of-all-trades to get people the information they need, I still take that which goes wrong within my position, very personally.

Too personally in my humble opinion.

Why #2. I’m naturally a fixer

Credit – Giphy

Conflict makes me feel very uncomfortable, as I think it does a lot of people. For me however, if there’s conflict, if I argue with someone, if I feel there is tension – I want to fix it. I want to address it, I want to hash it out.

In addition to wanting to fix things, I want to talk through things that are bothering me. If someone does not want to talk, or if they ignore me, I internalize it and tend to assume their actions equal they are upset with me, which leads me to feel like…. you guessed it …everything is my fault!

In reality, it could be because the person wants to take a step back till the emotions have subsided, and wait until their head is clear again.

After all that, there will be times when even if the other person and I have talked through things, I will fixate on it and overthink it. Which leads me to my 3rd reason I tend to believe everything is my fault….

Why # 3. I mentally beat myself up

Credit – Giphy

It’s one thing to be disciplined, but it crosses a line when that discipline turns into you being extremely hard on yourself. As it happens, my inner voice is a complete and total ASSHOLE. I let it speak to me using cruel, belittling language. It’s made me feel small, worthless, insecure, fearful, like I can’t do anything right. It’s even held me back from reaching my dreams, or even allowing me a moment to really consider what are my dreams. If someone asks me what my dream job is, or what my dream destination is, or dream anything is, sadly I have a really hard time coming up with an answer.

I can have someone tell me that the negative outcome of a situation is not my fault, and even if to their face I say yeah, yeah, okay you’re right, chances are i’ll still be dwelling on it in some far corner of my mind.

It can be hard to stare down the barrel of a metaphorical gun, representing a negative thought pattern. As I said earlier though, the way to dealing with these mental ruts is to work through them, not around them, not over them.

I also think by helping myself in uncovering these patterns, actions, reactions, and behaviors, it may perhaps help someone else too out there, who finds themselves equally feeling like everything is their fault (believe me, it’s not, just letting you know that!). That’s not to say we have the same reasons you and I, for the considerable amount of fault we place upon ourselves, but my clarity may be able to assist you in achieving your own clarity.

Stay tuned right back here next week for Part 2 of this blog series.

Do you experience an irrational level of fault? Feel free to share your experience below!