08 May How to End the Cycle of Self-Blame
“Experience is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.” – Gervase R. Bushe
Are the events of your life under your personal control or determined by forces outside of yourself? You are responsible for yourself, whether you like it or not. What you do with your life and what you have done already is up to you.
Think about it for a moment: When something good happens to you, do you take credit for it or do you think how lucky you were? When something negative occurs, do you feel it is your responsibility? When you have conflict with someone, do you immediately blame this person? When things are not happening in the way you want what do you usually do? Do you believe that there is a behaviour and its consequences? Do you think there is a causal relationship between your thinking, your beliefs and your feelings?
Julian Rotter, one of the most influential behaviourists in psychology’s history, proposed that individuals differ where they place the responsibility for what happens to them. When people interpret the consequences of their behaviour to be controlled by luck, fate, or others, this indicates a belief in what Rotter called an external locus of control (locus simply means location).
In the opposite direction, if people interpret their own behaviour and attitude as responsible for their consequences or feelings, they have a belief in an “internal locus of control”.
It might take years before you are able to really take back your finger, pointed outside in blaming, and deeply look at yourself. This is one of the reason why people are not able to change their life, because they are lost in endless “blaming”. The typical attitude of our mind when something is not working is always to look to who to blame, judge or complain.
We find 1,000 excuses to see that all the events, situations, and feelings we create in our life are because of other people or external consequences that we cannot control. In other words, we are not responsible for our self and our life. This belief or mind attitude is one of the hardest to become aware of and overcome. It is rooted in our unawareness, wrong beliefs, childhood wounds, and negative feelings that we don’t know how to get rid of.
It can be like a pair of glasses with a distorted lens. The glasses show us a world where we are not in control on the events of our life. We are victims of other people, situations or life.
Beliefs like: “Life is suffering”, “I cannot make it”, “I’m not good enough”, “People don’t like me”, “I’m not lucky”, “I’m just a victim”, “I’m not worth anything”, “I’m shameful”, and many others. And you can write your own specific one here ____________________.
These sample beliefs and your unique one are the lens distortions through which you read the world and justify yourself to feel hurt, rejected, guilt, shame, revenge, and anger, just to mention a few.
These beliefs and feelings create a wall of disconnection and separation from where you come out only with blaming, complaining, making excuses and feeling like a victim.
The need to “blame” or “complain” are sourced in the hurt feelings we carry inside. When you are blaming other people or circumstance, it not only makes you vindictive, but it makes you powerless to change your life or situation. You give up control for any possible transformation.
In psychology, this “blame game” is called “projection” by Freudian therapists and “shadow work” by the Jungians. The idea of it is actually rooted in what is known as the Emerald Tablet, said to be written by the Ancient Egyptian Master Hermes Trismegistus. In essence the message of the Emerald Tablet is this: “As above, so below, inner and outer are the same.” In other words, if you want to live your life as an empowered person, start to own and accept that “You are responsible for yourself” without requiring the outer world to be different. This journey, as we do in the Path of Love, is through inner awareness, responsibility and transformation. The keys are: open yourself with honesty, share, feel the feelings, let them go, and move on into life.
Let’s do one of our Path of Love exercises, called the Eternal Mirror, as way to ground our understanding and create an experience.
Utilise this exercise when you find yourself disturbed by a situation that is occurring in the outer world. Read the exercise all the way through before you try it.
• Grab a pen and paper and sit quietly in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed.
• Grab a pen and paper and sit quietly in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed.
• Take a couple of deep breaths and spend a moment or two allowing yourself to relax.
• Close your eyes and bring to mind the person in the outer world who is causing you to feel disturbed. Now allow a 2 or 3 word description of this person to form inside your head.
• Stay with the first words that come and write them down. (This description is not meant to define the other person. It is simply a tool for mirroring the feeling that may be causing difficulties inside of you.)
• Once you have the words in front of you, close your eyes again and ask yourself where in the body you feel these words? What are the feelings that come up to you?
• Let the feeling simply be. Allow it to exist exactly the way it is in this moment. You don’t need to change it, get rid of it or make it different.
• If you find the exercise brings up a lot of emotional energy or strong feelings, allow yourself to express it in the safety of your own room until you might feel okay.
• If it’s anger, make sounds, scream, beat pillows, verbalise whatever you need to do to get it out.
• If it’s sadness or hurt feelings encourage yourself to cry.
• The work here is to go deeper in contact with your feelings. Accept them, accept the part of your body that has those feelings. Be okay that you have the feelings. Be okay that you can express them. The act of acceptance of your feelings brings the transformative quality of your heart, which allows the painful, challenging emotions to melt and transform. Whatever you notice, simply feel it and accept it.
• The moment you free yourself from the upset, hurtful feeling, then you also free yourself from your need to blame and complain.
• You might also become aware that these feelings have occurred in the past. When, where, with who?
• Is it there any similarity from this past situation and this actual situation in your life?
• This can give you an understanding of how unconsciously we create our own reality, attracting people or situations where we can experience again our past hurt feelings.
• Important Note: Keep this exploration for simple situations (not strong emotions towards somebody). For more complex and strong feelings you might need the help of qualified therapist.
• This practice doesn’t require you to condone the behaviour of the person that you are upset with, but to brings you more in contact with your own feelings and to support any awareness that can come in this process.
The greater our sense of responsibility, the greater is the awareness and the power that we have to change our life.
When you put the responsibility of your feelings outside of yourself, you place all the power over your own life in someone else’s hands: friends, lovers, family members, colleagues.
Along with this power “you give away” you set up certain expectations of those you have empowered. This is a perfect set up for disappointment, frustration, and all the other possibly negative emotions.
When you take responsibility for your own feelings you relieve others of the burden of your expectations. They are then free to be what they want to be, without the fear of being punished emotionally or made to feel guilty for letting you down.
You can accept people as they are, not as you “need” them to be.
In this acceptance you tend to blame people less for their behaviours . You hold to the truth that you are completely responsible for your life, and become aware that any conflict, any separation with somebody is because you consciously place a wall. Simple comments such as, “He/she makes me so mad … “He/she makes me angry”…, “He/she drives me crazy” … are the bricks of this wall.
Sharing yourself in a safe, non-judgmental environment, as we do in the Path of Love process, is the very first step to start recovering your personal power and responsibility.
It brings more awareness of your words, your habits, your point of view, your heart. Shifting, as Rotter would say, your locus control from outside to inside. From not feeling responsible to knowing you are the only one who can change your life.
In more than twenty years, Path of Love has changed thousands of people lives. In this process we become aware that we are powerful beings beyond any limited idea, beliefs or past experience. We can transform our life from where we are into the silence and love of our own heart.
‘Responsibility’, the very word, has to be broken into two words. It means `response ability’. And response is possible only if you are spontaneous, here and now. Response means that your attention, your awareness, your consciousness, is totally here and now, in the present. So whatever happens, you respond with your whole being.’ – Osho
Sambhavo is a specialized therapist with a Clinical Master and Ph.D. in Psychology, and over 25 years of working with people. He leads Path of Love globally, in English, Spanish and Italian. Though his next two retreats are on a waiting list, there are still a few spaces available at Path of Love in Israel, which will be held from August 13 – 20, 2019 at the magnificent Moa Oasis in the vast, ancient desert of Israel. For more information, please contact [email protected].
“Have you been to the desert? The silence, the eternal silence of the desert … sands spreading unto eternity…a purity, a cleanliness. Going to the desert is only symbolic of going into meditation.” – Osho