Mental Health and Blame

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August 27, 2021
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September 28, 2021

Mental Health and Blame: How Self-criticism can drive negative outcomes


A big part of the mental health space is emotive language and vocabulary. Therefore, it’s long overdue that we talk about “Blame Culture” and how much of a large part self-criticalness is at the core of the most common mental health issues. Blame is often a means of attempting to hold ourselves accountable. However, it often is excessive and leads to self-gaslighting that involves nitpicking, fault-finding, complaining, exonerating the role that mental health plays.

Many times we think we can will ourselves to “get over” our traumas but end up punishing ourselves with gaslighting (convincing ourselves stressors or traumas didn’t happen or are no big deal) and guilt-heavy language (degrading ourselves for not being able to perform at high levels when we are in low spaces) when we are still affected by it.

Self-acceptance is recognizing we are human first and, by giving ourselves grace for our own mistakes, we can take corrective action and be open to trying new strategies and techniques.

The difference between Blame and Self-Acceptance

Blame is a thinking error that takes our attention away from an external issue and causes us to blame ourselves for the situation at hand that may not be our fault. Blame is criticism for real and/or perceived failures. In a culture in which people with mental illness are gaslit into constantly questioning the severity of their own symptoms, it’s no wonder many people aren’t comfortable being vulnerable and, above all else, human. Self-acceptance is a tool we can use to foster internal boundaries and protect ourselves from our own negative thoughts, helping us to learn to make peace with our failures and successes.

Replacing Blame with Self-care

Here are some techniques that can help us build ourselves up on the road to self-acceptance!

Engage in goal-directed activities

Performing task that directly contribute to our values increases positivity in our lives.

Be aware and mindful of thinking errors

Keep a journal to keep track of your thoughts and recognize when you are engaging in the signs of blame. Being more mindful of harmful thinking patterns can help us tackle those thoughts head on.

Practice positive affirmations

Write down positive affirming statements and review them daily. It’s easy to forget and ignore our good qualities and strengths when we are engaging in blame. We get tunnel vision, and we often ignore contradictory evidence to our thinking errors.

Cultivate a positive inner voice

Learn how to speak to yourself in a nurturing and encouraging tone. Speak to yourself with dignity and respect often and be mindful of negative and degrading language to avoid.

Let’s embrace ourselves

Once we make a commitment to choosing self-acceptance over blame, we open ourselves up to self-improvement and self-forgiveness. We recognize we are human first. Mistakes and missteps are as much a part of our human experience as the air we breathe. We can ride the wave of life with self-compassion and care to create better and long-term mental health outcomes for ourselves.

Simone Ingram MSW,LCSW
Clarity Clinic

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