Everybody fails, but some people seem to go on to achieve great things. As if the failure didn’t affect them at all, or maybe that it had somehow made them stronger. Others, seem to get flattened by their failures. They become more cautious and less confident as time goes on. They settle in for average, even though most people around them believe them capable of greater things.
What’s the secret? What makes some people wither while others grow and excel? In the first post in this series we looked at the danger of blaming others when we fail (The Right Way To Be Wrong (Part 1)). Blaming other people for our mistakes (even when they have made mistakes of their own) ensures that we will not grow. Many people choose not to blame others, but make an equally disastrous choice. They blame themselves.
Toxic Response to Failure #2: Blaming Yourself
Blaming yourself isn’t the same as taking responsibility for what you’ve done.
Most people by now have seen or heard the famous slip up Steve Harvey made in announcing Miss Universe 2015. It would be hard to imagine a more public forum in which to make a more horrible mistake. The social media universe exploded in response. Memes were created. Parodies were worked up for TV shows. Many spewed outrage, others mocked, and still others took the opportunity to criticize the pageant system as a whole. But as the hours ticked by there was another group of voices that grew steadily in Twitter and Facebook streams. Many people began defending Harvey, or at least expressing their admiration for how he handled his gaff.
As soon as Harvey realized what he had done, he stepped up, corrected his mistake and took full responsibility. It’s hard not to admire that sort of courage. The ability to accept responsibility for your mistakes is a life skill that most all successful people share. Blaming yourself is a different thing all together.
When you choose to blame yourself for something you have done wrong, you are choosing to make a wrong decision or action an indicator of your personal worth. It wasn’t just the failure that was bad, but you were bad too. That may sound noble, but it’s actually quite toxic.
When you live a life of blaming yourself and beating yourself up whenever things go wrong, your confidence slowly erodes. You doubt yourself more and more. Blaming yourself also prevents you from accurately diagnosing and correcting the mistake you made in the first place. There are thousands of reasons we fail or make bad decisions. Having the courage to understand why we made the mistakes we made allows us to make corrections and thereby to grow. When you are blaming yourself you are saying that you are the problem, Which means that you will be bringing the problem with you to the next relationship, job, or life decision you make.
So, if you have a habit of blaming yourself when anything goes wrong. Stop for a second and give yourself a bit of grace. Nobody is perfect, but we all can grow. Blaming yourself all of the time makes that grow incredibly difficult.