Why You Always Think Everything Is Your Fault (And What To Do About It)

Do you walk around feeling like you’re to blame for everything that’s happened to you, including friendships and relationships that have ended? Although you obviously can be at fault for some things in life, if you’re always pointing the finger at yourself, this can cause immense guilt and low self-esteem. But what’s at the root of this feeling that you’re in the wrong? There are various things that can cause it. Read on to learn why you always think everything is your fault.

1. You Experienced Childhood Trauma.

One of the biggest reasons why you might blame yourself for everything is that you experienced childhood trauma, such as in the form of neglect or abuse. Not to get into heavy psychology speak, but basically, children can’t understand why those bad things happen to them, which causes them to blame themselves. Sometimes, this feeling can be carried into adulthood. Luckily, therapy can help one to reframe their thoughts and beliefs.

2. You Have An Anxiety Disorder.

Anxious thoughts can do lots of nasty things, and one of them is making you feel like you’re to blame for everything bad. This occurs because you don’t allow yourself to feel anger. Instead of expressing anger when someone’s mean to you, you internalize it and it can become self-blame. If you have a generalized anxiety disorder, you probably experience difficulty with standing up for yourself or saying “no.” Start setting some boundaries. When you increase your self-respect, you’ll stop beating yourself up for everything.

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4. You’re Depressed.

Another mental health issue that can lead to self-blame is depression. When you’re depressed, a common feeling is guilt. The reason? Depression is associated with making generalizations. For example, someone with depression might think that if they don’t get a promotion or they get rejected by someone they’re crushing on, it means they’re a failure in life. See how it can spiral? One minute, you’re feeling down and worthless, and the next you’re sitting in buckets of unnecessary guilt. Speaking to a therapist can help you untangle these thoughts.

5. You’ve Had Toxic Relationships.

If you’ve been through stressful relationships with people who gaslit you or made you believe you were to blame for everything that went wrong, this can cause you to continue to carry that feeling. You might expect other people you meet to blame you for things, which can sink your confidence. Talking through what happened to you, whether with a therapist or friend, can help you to process your feelings so they don’t have to follow you.

6. You Have Responsibility OCD.

Responsibility OCD is a subset of OCD in which people believe they’re to blame for bad things that have happened, even if they couldn’t control them. This leads to intense feelings of guilt, irrational fears, and obsessive thoughts. For example, you might fear that your sister’s going to have a car crash because you used her car and you fear you did something wrong to it. Sometimes the fears can be irrational, so it’s worth chatting to a psychologist who specializes in treating OCD and can help you deal with your feelings.

7. You’re A Perfectionist.

If you identify as a perfectionist, you probably have extremely high expectations for yourself. You might have a loud self-critical voice that’s always giving you grief. Yup, being a perfectionist is making you miserable. If you make a mistake, this voice will tell you that you’re worthless. In extreme cases, it can make you feel like you should blame yourself when anything goes wrong. Try to lower your expectations and remind yourself that perfection is an illusion.

8. You’re Feeling Pressured By Society.

We’re all pressured by society to be/think/look a certain way, but over time this can become taxing. Maybe after an hour of scrolling social media you start to believe that you’re just a walking failure or that you’re not good enough. This can mess with your head, making you think that you’re not as smart/beautiful as you need to be. Stop comparing yourself to others and write a list of what makes you a wonderful person to be around. Read it often and fall in love with yourself!

9. You Were Scolded A Lot As A Child.

If adults during your childhood were always strict with you to the point where you felt scared to step out of line, this programming could still be controlling you. You might, for example, beat yourself up emotionally when you make mistakes. It’s good to change things up in your head as a way to reprogram yourself. So, when you’re afraid of making a mistake, remind yourself that you’re human and there are learning opportunities in failure. Treat yourself kinder than you were treated by others.

10. You Have Persistent Negative Self-Talk.

Have you ever stopped to listen to your thoughts? Every day, you can have thousands of negative thoughts that are causing you to feel sad, angry, or guilty. Change your self-talk by being more aware of it, then replacing the thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of saying, “I’m such a mess, my boyfriend’s going to leave me,” say, “I have good qualities but I can’t control what he chooses to do.”

11. You’re A People Pleaser.

Are you always ready to help others and do what they want? Are you a “yes” girl because you don’t want to disappoint anyone? This not only has you bending backward to accommodate everyone else, while ignoring what you want, but it can be linked to self-blame. When you don’t feel good enough to be respected by others simply for who you are, it makes sense that if something goes wrong you’ll blame yourself for it. Start setting some small boundaries to put your needs first. Remind yourself that you matter and you’ve got to be your first priority in life or you’ll never be happy.

Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.