No matter how your relationship ends, you will turn inward and try to figure out what you could have, should have, and would have done. This exercise is going to end up in blaming yourself.
Especially if you were in a long-term relationship and when it ended abruptly, you didn’t see it coming. Naturally, you want to know where it went wrong. Even if at the onset, you don’t blame yourself, the more you analyze the situation, you will always come up with things that you could have avoided, should not have done, or would have done better if only…
Analyzing what went wrong is normal and alright as long as you learn something from it, store it away for future reference and move on. If you use the opportunity to beat up on yourself and wallow in self-pity, this is not done.
This article attempts to understand the thinking behind blaming ourselves for failed relationships and suggests ways to overcome this.
Why do you punish yourself when your relationship fails?
You thought you were set for life with your partner and everything was hunky-dory. When your partner broke the news of leaving you out of the blue, you didn’t know what to think or how to take it. You were in a stupor and your partner just moved out.
It took you some time to come back to your senses and then it hit you real hard. You find yourself alone and your heart is broken to pieces.
Your sense of loss is not just about your partner leaving you or the toxic relationship ending. It is also about rejection and abandonment. This can give rise to deep sorrow involving loneliness, insecurity, and self-doubt. It also triggers anger and rage in you.
You feel like hitting out at anything that comes your way. Unfortunately, by now your partner/ex is no longer with you and all you have is yourself. So, you lash out at yourself. You blame yourself for everything with all the viciousness to take out your anger.
When a relationship ends, you take it as a personal failure and affront to your self-esteem, irrespective of your role in the whole episode. In your effort to find the real culprit, you dig up mistakes on your part, be it big or small, intentional or unintentional, real or imaginary.
What follows is an intense self-inflicted assault on oneself, blaming self for what happened. Self-blame in relationships can be brutal.
What happens when you blame yourself?
Blaming yourself can bring out all your frailties into the focus. You always knew that you were far from perfect. You knew you had flaws but brushed them aside as they were not affecting your life. Now, this disturbing episode has changed your perspective.
One of the character flaws that gets highlighted in this situation is insecurity and neediness. You start thinking that your behavior arising out of your insecurity drove your partner away. You start feeling ashamed of your behavior and inability to eliminate negative traits and improve yourself. Once you enter the negative space, there is no stopping. All your defects will rush to the fore and jostle for your attention.
This sudden focus on your character flaws can be demoralizing. Your faults, deficiencies, inadequacies, and negative attitude will fill up your mind and can make you feel low and worthless. You will conclude that you don’t deserve anything good and you are not worthy of love. You will decide that no one will ever want to love you again.
You will continue to think along these lines for days and weeks or even months. Naturally, this will lead you into depression if not something worse.
However, you can change the narrative if you want to. Let’s see how you can make it happen.
How to stop blaming yourself?
When you face rejection and experience unreciprocated love, it can make you act more insecure and needier than ever. This can make your partner/ex run further away from you. Again, blaming yourself for such behavior is counter-productive. This is a natural reaction to what happened to you and it is something you cannot help. Even tough and independent people feel weakened at this point.
Instead of overthinking about what happened, it is time to shake off the negative feelings and get into action mode. Here are some suggestions that can help you recover from a breakup feeling better than ever.
- The first thing you should do is to accept yourself for who you are – a human being with a ton of flaws and faults. Of course, you make mistakes. As they say, to err is human. Be ready to learn from your mistakes and move on.
- And you are insecure and needy. And so is everyone else. There is nothing to be ashamed of about this. You can promise yourself that you will have a watchful eye on them and keep them in check.
- Self-acceptance can go a long way in controlling the damage inflicted by the breakup. Try to accept yourself, warts and all.
- Allow yourself to be less than perfect. Being perfect may make you feel on top of the world as long as you are perfect. The moment you begin to slip up, you are in for a disappointment. You will start feeling as if you abandoned yourself.
- Stop seeking approval or validation of your emotions from others. Try to convince yourself that only your validation, acceptance, and support matter. You and you alone can make you feel secure. Don’t bother about those who have abandoned you.
- Acknowledge the need for self-love. And this is the right time to start practicing it. Self-love, as it suggests, is loving yourself for who you are with all the positives and negatives. Don’t confuse it with being loved by others. Give yourself the respect and attention you deserve.
- Maybe you never thought about feeling secure before because you have never gone through such intense feelings of insecurity. Do some introspection to understand how you can make yourself feel secure. Take constructive action to make this happen. Remember, you are the only one who can control your emotions and feelings. You can make yourself feel secure despite how others behave.
- Find ways to heal the emotional wounds of your breakup. Learn how to be self-reliant. Shed the negative effects of abandonment and work towards recovery. Take this opportunity to build a strong relationship with yourself through self-love.
- Turn all the negative emotions you are feeling on their heads and convert them into useful tools. You can make the best use of this sense of vulnerability to bring about major changes in your outlook and behavior. You can come out of this sad episode as a completely new person who is confident, self-assured, and self-reliant.
- Hold on to the changed persona in you and don’t allow it to slip away once you recover from the breakup. Stand proud and tall, knowing that you don’t need approval from anyone else. You are your own master.
- You may go a step further by writing a thank you note to your ex. You can thank your ex for motivating you to discover yourself and your hidden strengths and passion.
- Now it is time to pat yourself on the back for coming out of a bad breakup, not just unscathed but more empowered and stronger.
When your relationship fails and your partner walks out on you, you may go through an emotional roller coaster ride. Feeling guilty after a breakup is natural. You may try to fix the breakup thinking that was your fault. Unfortunately, you got it all wrong.
Instead, you should start thinking, “Why am I blaming myself for everything?” and “How to stop self-blame?”
Now, you are on the right track and it is only a matter of time before you are back on your feet again. The world will look beautiful and sunny once more.
You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once, and move on.” – Homer Simpson