I'm always to blame. It's always my fault. I should have done something different. I could have tried harder. I often hear these comments from my clients. This can be in regards to a large variety of circumstances. Often, these permeating thoughts relate to relationships or work environments. They also relate to our first experiences of severe pain.
Part of normal emotional development allows for us to take a backseat to blame as we become an adult. We realize that we are actually much less in control of the world than our upbringing lead us to believe and we are very much a little fish in what seems like a very big pond. We stop seeing the world in linear equations filled with black and white scenarios and exchange them for a big pit of grey with right turns and left turns more than right or wrong.
The point at which some sort of severe emotional pain occurred can halt the emotional progression and freeze us at whatever age it happened. What it looks like in my office is typically a client who always thinks others peoples reactions are in effect to what they have done wrong. They rarely consider that someone could just be having a bad day or that their bad day is unrelated to the person they are across from (my client).
Our desire to make sense of pain creates the desire to construct a situation that we could have controlled. This is where you see self-blame in tragedy. We falsely believe if we think we could have controlled the situation than we can prevent pain from ever happening again. It creates pain as the enemy and pain being something that is now living inside of us means that we must be the enemy too. This creates the desire to be perfect, a constant running away from the self that has something wrong with it. A self that is just hurting.
While our emotional IQ may stunt at the age of severe pain we can learn to let go of linear and black and white thinking, the crazed desire for control, and complete detachment from pain and catch up to speed with our real emotional age. It's a long journey that insists you give up shame for an opportunity to heal from pain and a journey that will reintroduce you to yourself with a worth and value bag filled to capacity- with an explanation that it was always there in the first place. You just gave it all away before you knew you didn't have too.