Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Avoid All Forms of Self-Rejection: Stop Blaming Yourself

Again I quote the eloquent Henri Nouwen. If you haven’t caught on yet, I adore that man, as he somehow managed to spy on my brain for the last 39 years. In “The Inner Voice of Love,” he writes:

You must avoid not only blaming others but also blaming yourself. You are inclined to blame yourself for the difficulties you experience in relationships. But self-blame is not a form of humility. It is a form of self-rejection in which you ignore or deny your own goodness and beauty.

When a friendship does not blossom, when a word is not received, when a gesture of love is not appreciated, do not blame it on yourself. This is both untrue and hurtful. Every time you reject yourself, you idealize others. You want to be with those whom you consider better, stronger, more intelligent, more gifted than yourself. Thus you make yourself emotionally dependent, leading others to feel unable to fulfill your expectations and causing them to withdraw from you. This makes you blame yourself even more, and you enter a dangerous spiral of self-rejection and neediness.


Avoid all forms of self-rejection. Acknowledge your limitations, but claim you unique gifts and thereby live as an equal among equals. That will set you free from your obsessive and possessive needs and enable you to give and receive true affection and friendship.

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  • Weeble75

    FWIW, this is a saying I’ve coined about the past that helps me;
    “All you can do about the past is seek to make amends, be forgiven, learn from it and find God’s healing.”
    If I’ve done those things, I really have no reason to hold on unless, as you implied, I want to beat up on myself and my self-esteem. And that’s something I don’t recommend.

  • collagen

    I have read the article which fully based on the Blaming yourself.I found this post very interesting as it contain very informative knowledge regarding the forgiveness and rejection.I agree with the given wordings:When a friendship does not blossom, when a word is not received, when a gesture of love is not appreciated, do not blame it on yourself. This is both untrue and hurtful.

  • Lynn

    Just what I needed to read. Thank you!

  • Emma

    Wow, this gave me so much insight into how I think. It’s uncanny! Thank you for helping me understand myself and this disease.

  • Tara

    Apparently this guy is spying on my brain too!

  • Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

    I’m glad I read this. I use to think it was best to blame myself but that is a myth. Thanks for sharing for the insight and bringing this to my attention, Therese!

  • David Stein

    This is one of the hardest things for me to overcome. Numerous times throughout my life I have been my worst critic. I get to the point where I can’t stand my writing, I think I am worthless and as such, I create a depressive episode that could have been avoided. Although it is easy to tell yourself not to obsesses about it, the problem is that I start to obsess about the obsession, causing an even greater problem.
    What I have found is that the best way to combat this is understand that you will never be perfect, realize when the symptoms of self-rejection are starting, are work on curbing them as much as possible. The fact is, the more experience you have with self-rejection the more of a chance you have to combat and change your life.

  • Barbara

    He’s been spying on mine even longer! I love him too. Have that book next to my bed. I wish I could get this message to sink into my mind and my son’s.

  • S

    can you read minds??? I was feeling so lousy coz some people let me down and was thinking beating myself up for being such a dork & then you write this.. Love u loads…God bless!!!

  • Cassandra

    …this came…at precisely the right time.

  • JBird

    Wow – this is the story of my life! Self badgering, self rejection, self loathing…. I feel SO alone in this struggle most of the time, it’s embarassing to admit or talk about. The most common thing I hear is “quit beating yourself up”. Why do I think the whole world sees me the way I do – a very warped and critical view of myself, unreleting and unaccepting.
    I think I need to read this every day, it’d save me a lot of grief and worry.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Angela

    I agree, must be a mind reader. Besides from the love I get from my daughter, I’ve been feeling so alone in my life lately, and been dealing with difficulties in my relationships and of course, blaming myself. However, those words that I’ve just read me were truly meant for me and my situation and I feel better already. Thank you. God Bless you.

  • ANess

    Although I think that not blaming yourself for things gone wrong in your life, you should always take responsibility for actions. Learning from your own behaviors will help make you a better person and will enable to have better relationships with others in the future.

  • Louise

    I find that if I have the wrong expectation on my loved ones to act appropriately with my gifts of “Love”, I set myself up for a let down….since I tend to be too generious at times.
    I’ve caught myself go into the why’s and how’s come they can’t see what I’ve done for them. I’m learning to do things for the joy that I get out of doing out of “Love”.
    I feel good and self love instead of the self negative talk that use to cludder my head and heart.
    Thank you for this awesome reminder.


    Recently I ran into a guy that I use to date and have not seen or talked to in 7 years. Even though I felt the old feelings I chose to keep the past the past. A week later he called and we have been dating since. He is 48 and I am 58……I am attractive but no spring chick. He is the total package…women turn their heads to look at him. For some reason and it is my issues….I have found myself wondering when he could have such beautiful women…why me…..I have allowed myself to be doubtful,insecure, vulnerable….not the strong confident woman I have been. Fear is robbing my joy…past issues that I thought I had overcome are slapping me very hard. My friends keep telling me what a beautiful, strong, loving woman I am both in and outside and they are concerned that I am haveing this feelings.
    When I read this I thought ok who told them to use this topic right now….it spoke directly to me….thanks so much….I needed this…..

  • Nicole

    I needed this. I have been so down lately and have been trying to eat my problems away. I lost 50 pounds and have been steadily gaining back. I’ve been eating because I am down and hating myself more for eating. It’s been such a vicious cycle and I don’t know how to break it or think I am strong enough to break it. I have been contemplating going to the doctor for fear that something is wrong with me but fearful of being judged. I am printing this out and posting it in plain sight. Thanks for sharing it : )

  • Grace

    Wonderful reminder. Of course, the flip side is also extremely important, as a previous poster suggested. Through developing the skill of self-analysis, we must learn to not always place the responsibility for the less than positive things that happen in our relationship on the other person.

  • Matt

    Thanks for being there. Your little words of wisdom help so much at times. Lets me know I’m not alone,and helps to slow my run away thoughts. Thanks again. Matt.

  • Glenn

    I have a lot of problems with depression and obsession. This was an excellent little article. How does one go about stopping self-rejection?
    I seem to blame myself on every problem I have with a friend and it is getting more severe with age. I am actually very taleneted in a nujmber of areas but I don’t give myself much credit. However, if I make what appears to be a mistake, I do gfet all upset to the point I can make myself crash. This actually scares me about my future.

  • JLLB

    I’ve been hoping to see a note to let us know how you’re doing – I hope it will say that things are improving!
    Once again, the Lord has given you the right post at the right time in my life! I have incredible struggles in this area. I blame myself for everything that goes wrong, leading those things to provide evidence for the worthlessness I have already assigned to myself. I do look to others for my value and am slowly, but surely try to work with my therapist to get through this emotional dependency… his exact words! This is some of the most difficult work I’ve done because it reaches some of the deepest thoughts and to the core of my being. It also makes me feel alone, like others have said. I see others as seeing *me* as so bad that I wind up losing the relationship because I blame myself for every wrong which happens.
    I am also going to print this out and make the font huge – so I am forced to see it every day!
    Thank you again, Terese!

  • Your Name

    Therese,thank you for this article.As long as i receive messages of guidance from the people who cares for me,i will not be thinking about blaming myself,as long as i am sure i did my best,i have given more than my best,there’s no reason for me to feel sorry.As long as love is the only reason for any union or separation,theres no feeling of blaming one’s self.

  • Lora

    Thanks for the reminder Therese. Everything is not my fault and that is hard to remember sometims.

  • JMP

    This passage spoke to me. I lost my job nearly six months ago, and I have been blaming myself ever since; thinking that had I been smarter, better, nicer …someone other than me, I wouldn’t be unemployed.
    Thanks for reminding us about Henri Nouwen. I am leaving now to go to the library to find some of his writings!

  • Victoria

    I don’t agree, sometimes God removes people from your circle because they mean you no good. And they only decieve you. Everyone that smiles in your face or gives you things does not neccessarily mean they are for you. Some people do things for their own selfish reasons and only God knows. Go with your gut feelings nine times out of ten God is trying to tell you something or reveal to you something. Especially if it keeps coming back and you can’t ignore it. Pray to Lord, and ask him, Lord if it is not true it will leave my thoughts never to return but if it is true you will be persistant and you will reveal the truth to me. Trust me it really works. I do this whenever something keeps negging me and then he reveals the truth to me in different ways even in dreams and visions. And if it’s true I ask Lord jesus to pray for me and to help me rid the problem whatever it may be and if it’s to much I ask Father the most high to help me and Lord Jesus with the situation that I am facing. Love peace Joy and Happyness

  • Anonymous

    For years I believed every person’s bad mood and every negative feeling was somehow “my fault” I started to question this form of reasoning and learned that it was actually of form of ego stroking! I took note and eventually saw the truth in this .

  • Catherin

    Herni, thank you for sharing such awesome eye opener. I never thought about I was rejecting myself.When I would blame myself for things that happen to me in my past. It has been a great hepl and healing words of encouragment and wisdom. God Bless you and thank you for sharing. I would like to post it in my journal,of course using your name as author.

  • Kelly


  • lost

    how do you stop blaming yourself? I’m so used to it it’s like second nature.

  • james

    blaming yourself has accomplished nothing for me!it only causes negative feelings ,but positive feelings leads to true affection and love for the Lord and your friends and mate!!

  • Susan

    There will always be moments when you blame yourself. It’s human nature. I have had to learn that it is useless to blame one’s self but.. alternatively to remember what my buddhist teacher taught me. That every thought and action, backed by emotion (intensity of emotion draws in more energy, negative or positive to the vibration of the event), is what they call a Dharma seed. It is the seed for future events. And so, whatever you have in your life now has in some way been caused by you. Guilt is useless and just attracts more negativity but being responsible in a way that allows you to love yourself is important. To say that you are faultless will only mean that you don’t really look at whatever is in your life. I can now look at deeds and thoughts that I had and say, wow, I now look back and see the direct results of the negative or depressive or selfish behaviours. They can be small but many or large. The culminate and eventually .. stuff happens. The key is to move forward. Blame is a waste of time. Knowing that your thoughts today affect your future events. It is a very powerful way to live your life. Youa re responsible and in total control if you only realize that positive intentions, thoughts and deeds will bring good things. Again, my buddhist teacher told me that you can’t look in the rear view mirror if you want to go forward. Create the future with positive, lovings intentions, thoughts and deeds.

  • Bill

    I liken this article to my greatest downfall, the Dairy Queen Blizzard with extra Reeses. It satisfies the momentary yearning for something sweet and good that will lighten my mood, yet it is ultimately bad for me. The satisfaction passes quickly and I am back to the beginning. You see, I am bad. I do bad things, even when I know they’re bad and even when I tell myself I shouldn’t do them. I don’t like doing them and no one makes me do them, yet I do them anyway. Yet these very things serve to remind me I’m not perfect. I’m not God, nor will I ever be. I’m SUPPOSED to have negative feelings about doing bad things! Only in recognizing this fact about me (and you) can I ever begin to understand the overwhelming grace of God. The prodigal son did bad things! The elder son did also! They should blame themselves. Nouwen says don’t blame others or myself for difficulties experienced in relationships. Then who? If I’m being a jerk and things go bad, am I not to blame? Of course I am. Reminds me of an old Cosby routine about smoking marijuana. One says to the other, “It expands my personality.” The other says, “But what if your a *&%$#@?”

  • diamontina

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  • diamontina

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  • susan

    It’s like they always say in OA: “Don’t go around comparing your insides to everyone elses outsides.”

  • Karissa

    Bill — that Cosby bit was referring to the use of cocaine, not marijuana. I think the point that Nouwen is trying to make is that we falsely blame ourselves based on self-beliefs that are not true. When we do this, we are only hurting ourselves. People with mental illness often have distorted views of themselves and false beliefs of self.

  • diamontina

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  • diamontina

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  • Sieed

    It is so easy to blame urself and others for feelings that may not be understood? I have been there but to set urself free you must

  • Maybe it’s me

    How about I blame myself when it IS my fault? Would that be alright? Sometimes people really do mess things up.

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