Why Do I Think Everything Is My Fault? – Bipolar Burble Blog

I have a bad habit of thinking that everything is my fault. It’s really remarkable. No matter what happens and no matter what other people do, I always feel like I made it happen. This is a personal inclination of mine, psychologically I suspect, but it is also affected by depression. If you feel like everything is your fault, read on to learn why that might be the case and what to do about it.

Why would a person think that everything is their fault?

There are many reasons why people think everything is their fault. Education is very important. Children tend to believe that everything is their fault because they don’t understand the larger factors at play. Children are the centers of their own universes (they haven’t learned otherwise yet), which is why they think things like their parents’ divorce are their fault. And of course, some parents reinforce this belief by blaming children for things that are completely out of their control. If I were you, it makes sense to carry that feeling into adulthood.

But I think there’s a bigger reason why many people think everything is their fault: the illusion of control. If you believe everything is your fault, then you believe everything is under your control. If you believe that you control everything, then you can prevent bad things from happening. This idea gives people comfort and has spawned self-help nonsense like the idea that you attract everything that happens to you (like attracting like, The secret, etc.). People accept this illusion because they want to believe that they can prevent bad things from happening and make good things happen. This despite the fact that most of the things that happen to us are decidedly out of our control. (Ask a hungry child.)

I feel like everything is my fault because of depression

While I think I have psychological reasons to believe it’s all my fault, I also think depression has dramatically increased that propensity. “Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.” is a real symptom of depression recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. We know that people with depression feel this way because of the illness itself.

The effect of thinking that everything is my fault

It’s devastating because believing everything is your fault only makes you hate yourself more when bad things happen. If someone rejects you? It’s your fault. If you lose a job? It’s your fault. What if you had a fire in the kitchen? It’s your fault. Why wouldn’t you hate yourself if you believed that you made all those things happen? Why wouldn’t you feel useless? Guilt and feelings of worthlessness go hand in hand.

Overwhelming feelings of guilt drown out all additional precipitating factors. Of course, we all impact our lives and this affects what happens to us. We have an important role to play in our lives. But many things are also out of our control. Someone may reject you because of their own psychological peccadilloes. You could lose your job because the company made cuts. These things are simply not your fault.

The difference between personal responsibility and thinking that everything is my fault

I have previously insisted on personal responsibility. We need to take responsibility for our own mental illness and our own well-being. And I believe that. I think it’s important that we don’t use bipolar disorder as an excuse for bad behavior. That said, there is a line between taking responsibility and believing it’s all your fault. You can take responsibility for taking your medications as prescribed (that’s important for well-being), but it’s not your fault if you become depressed despite your best efforts. You can only do what you can do and you are not to blame for bipolar disorder itself.

Fighting the thought that everything is your fault

As I said, our choices impact our lives dramatically, but it’s important to evaluate what we control and what we don’t. You may contribute to a relationship dissolving, but that doesn’t mean you made it possible. There is another person there that you have no control over.

So when I start to think that everything is my fault, I try to stop and evaluate the reality of that thought. Can I really be to blame here? Am I reading the situation correctly? Are there other contributing factors? What part of the situation do I have no control over? And how can I maintain my self-esteem no matter what role I have had to play?

Answering these questions may seem easy, but it can be very difficult for a person suffering from severe depression. Sometimes I need help. It’s great to share these answers with a friend. And of course, a therapist can be of great help as well.

However, the important thing for me to remember is that depression makes me lean too far into guilt. I need to remember that just because I think it and feel it, doesn’t mean it’s true. I must remember that depression is a liar. Not only does depression lie to me, but depression makes me lie to myself. Fighting the idea that everything is my fault is not just about evaluating the reality of the situation, it is about fighting depression itself.

And finally, I have to remember that while making a mistake and rightfully blaming myself can affect my self-perception, it shouldn’t affect my self-esteem. The value is intrinsic. We all make mistakes. It doesn’t devalue them as people. I need to remember that it is depression that says I am worthless, neither to myself nor to the world.

In short, not everything is your fault, but even when something is, you’re okay.

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