I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about blame. Blame is a pretty pervasive force in my life and some days (read as: weeks) it weighs on me a lot more than others (i.e. this one).
The thing I find most interesting about blame as a general concept is that it has such a fine containment field. For me, there’s a massive difference between Owning a Mistake and Taking the Blame. While this is more or less an issue of semantics for many people, this is something I struggle with on an almost daily basis. It’s important to take responsibility for the mistakes that you make. It’s a part of being a mature, functioning human being and I highly encourage everyone to try it whenever possible. Where this can become a problem – where it shifts from healthy ownership to destructive guilt – is when your way of taking responsibility is to assume all blame for every problem that is at all associated with you in any way and proceed to give yourself a psychological beating every time you screw something up in even the tiniest way.
That’s me, by the way. Hello.
I’d like to say that stopping this behaviour has gotten easier with time and training. I’d like to say that telling myself that it’s silly to blame myself for everything and judge myself harshly for any and all mishaps has brought me some sort of enlightenment. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes that’s hooey. Today it’s hooey. Tomorrow will be better.
I was talking about this with a friend of mine last night, someone who has very similar issues of self-judgment and loathing. We didn’t exactly come to any sort of consensus on how to solve this problem other than eating our body weight in Steak ‘n’ Shake chili mac supreme, which is sadly not going to happen because we live about 800 miles apart and there is a disappointing lack of Steak ‘n’ Shakes in the gaping expanse that resides between us. What we did agree on was that this whole issue of judging ourselves for everything we do is a helluva lot easier to cope with when we know that the other person is only a phone call away. In the midst of everything bleak and painful, there’s always going to be that soft voice on the other end of the line that says, ‘I’m here.’ And that’s something to celebrate, I think: having someone else think you’re fantastic when you can’t even think you’re decent. I’m really glad I have that. It’s a brilliant thing to have.
I know a lot of people who have various issues with anxiety and/or depression. This is a hazard of working in any sort of artistic field or just generally being a person. I was recently directed to this pretty fantastic blog post about realistic ways of coping with depression that’s definitely worth the read if you have some free time. She uses words like ‘solipsism’, which is great because you can feel all fancy about reading the word ‘solipsism’ today. There it is again! Look at how academic you are! Use it in a sentence today! Knowledge is power!
But more important than building your vocabulary, I just want you to know that I hope you do something nice for yourself today, even if it doesn’t seem like anything at all. Make yourself some jam on toast. Take a little walk to get a soda. Congratulate yourself on your encyclopaedic knowledge of Sherlock trivia. Read. Whatever it is, enjoy it. You deserve it. I think you did a really good job today, even if you don’t. Especially if you don’t.