Be glad that it’s your fault!

When unhappiness strikes, we often lash out. We blame other people, we blame outside events, we do whatever we can to convince ourselves that it is not our fault. In a fight with our partner, we come up with all the things that he or she did wrong, and why we were justified to behave the way we did. When we’re feeling irritable, we insist that the actions of others are responsible for our mood, such as a driver cutting us off in traffic, or a work colleague talking too much. We go out of our way to blame everyone and everything for our mood, but seldom do we blame ourselves.

The reason that this behaviour is absurd is that we would be much better off if it were our fault. Anything that we are responsible for, we can change. If our irritability is the fault of another driver, or the fault of a work colleague, then we are doomed to feeling irritable forever. On the other hand, if we are responsible for our own irritability, then we have a way out. Hence, instead of hoping to blame others, we should hope to blame ourselves. We should look for every way in which we have contributed to our unhappiness, and the more we find, the happier we should be.

If we find this mind-set difficult, then we should ask ourselves why we want to blame others. Often, it comes back to self-esteem. We perceive that by blaming others, our self-esteem remains high, and that this will boost our happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The less responsibility that we take for our own happiness, the more we are bound to suffer. If we deny our ability to improve things, we will be stuck in the same place forever. Although blaming others protects our self-esteem in the short-term, the resulting unhappiness only makes things worse in the long-term, and it is important to realize this if we want to stop this destructive behaviour.

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