The #1 Way to Ruin Your Life
After 40 years of psychiatric practice with tens of thousands of patients at Amen Clinics, it has become clear that there’s one self-defeating behavior that is guaranteed to ruin your life. What is it?
These days, there’s a tsunami of blame going around. Just scroll through your social media feed, and you’ll find angry, anxious, helpless, and sad posts from people blaming someone else for their current situation. Heck, you may even be one of those people posting about how others are to blame for your misfortune. But this is not helpful. In fact, it’s toxic thinking.
Why Blame is so Toxic
The tendency to blame others when things go wrong in your life is a hallmark of self-sabotage. It means that when anything goes wrong in your work life, in your relationship, or with your health, you’re quick to say it’s somebody else’s fault.
But blame triggers a dangerous downward spiral that leads to inaction and helplessness that just makes things worse. Here’s how it goes:
1. You blame others.
“It’s your fault.”
2. You start to view your life as being out of your own control.
“My life would be better if it wasn’t for…”
3. You feel like a victim of circumstances.
“If only that didn’t happen, then I….”
4. You feel helpless and give up trying to change things.
“Nothing will ever go right for me, so why bother trying?”
Blaming others feels good at first. It basically absolves you of any feelings of guilt or responsibility for the things that are going wrong in your life. However, it also reinforces the idea that your life is out of your control and that others can determine how life goes for you. This is disempowering and causes much inner turmoil. Eventually, by giving up on trying to change things, it can lead to even greater problems in your life. Your career goes nowhere, your relationship disintegrates, or your health deteriorates. It can also lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Blame is a Sign of Toxic Thinking
Blaming others is a type of ANT (automatic negative thoughts) that infests your mind and ruins your day and your life. Of all the types of ANTs (there are at least 9 types of self-defeating ANTs), Blaming ANTs are the most toxic. They not only steal your happiness but also drain your personal power.
Is your mind ruled by Blaming ANTs? Ask yourself if you have a tendency to say things like:
1. “It’s their fault that COVID-19 infections are going up in my area.”
2. “It’s their fault I lost my job.”
3. “It’s not my fault I eat too much; my mom taught me to clean my plate.”
4. “I’m having trouble meeting this deadline because the client keeps changing his mind. I’m miserable, and it’s all his fault!”
5. “It’s my boss’ fault I did not get promoted.”
6. “It’s my child’s fault.”
7. “It wasn’t my fault that [I wasn’t prepared for the meeting, they never give enough notice, etc.]”
8. “That wouldn’t have happened if you had been better to me.”
9. “How was I supposed to know [the boss wanted the reports in two days. He should have told me, etc.].”
10. “If it was so important, why didn’t you remind me?”
Stop Blaming, Start Taking Responsibility
In order to break free from the Blaming ANTs, you have to start taking responsibility. Rather than automatically placing blame on others, ask yourself this simple question:
“What can I do today to make things better?”
Think about things you can do to make yourself more valuable at work, to make your relationships better, to improve your health and well-being, to make your thinking more rational, and to make your brain healthier?
For example, at Amen Clinics, patients with relationship issues often tend to blame the other person. But when they look at their own behavior and admit that there are things they do that drive their partner crazy, it helps them stop the blame game. Then when they think about what they do that makes their partner happy, they can take ownership of their behavior and choose to do the things that make their partner smile. It makes them feel empowered to enhance their relationship with their words and actions.
Responsibility isn’t about taking the blame for everything, rather it’s about your ability to respond to whatever situation you’re in. Even in a pandemic when you may feel like so much is out of your control, you can still take responsibility for your own actions.
Make today the day you commit to stop blaming others and start asking what you can do today that will make the biggest positive difference in your work life, your relationships, and your brain and body health. After all, don’t you want to be in the driver’s seat of your own life?
Anxiety, depression, ADD, memory loss, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever, and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.
At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.