People often come to me and say, “I have no confidence in myself.”
Everyone finds it hard when they fail at something, or are scolded, or when something hurtful is said to them.
And people want to take those hard feelings out on someone.
Generally, there are two types of reactions: The first is to take things out on others.
People of this type blame all their failures on other people and criticize those around them.
The second type takes things out on themselves, criticizing themselves more than necessary.
The type of person who ignores his own responsibility and criticizes others tends to become an object of dislike to those around him, all unawares.
But he may not suffer much from the pangs of self-hatred.
The overly self-critical person who is quick to take all the blame may very well be regarded as a nice person.
But, lacking all confidence in himself, he will suffer in silence from severe emotional distress.
If the root of the problem really is in yourself, you must of course reflect on it and amend it.
But to assume that absolutely everything is “my fault” or “my responsibility” is just to hurt oneself without reason, and is not a good thing at all.
A thirty-three year old woman whom we will call Fumie came to me for counseling.
“I have been in the same company for ten years now. When things don’t go smoothly or actually fail, I always feel that it’s all my fault. Then I feel disgusted with myself and become depressed.”
Fumie appeared to be a serious-minded person with a strong sense of responsibility.
I asked her to tell me in detail about the times she felt that way.
It turned out that sometimes the problem was her fault, but that at other times it was due to mistaken directions from her superior, or a misunderstanding on the part of a customer, or errors by her colleagues or juniors in the company.
“You criticize yourself, taking the blame for everything, seeing yourself as always at fault.
But do you really think it was always your fault?” I asked her.
“Not always everything,” was her evasive response.
“So it wasn’t everything, but just a part that was your fault. Where did you go wrong, do you think?”
“Let me see . . . Sometimes I didn’t let the staff know precisely what the customer wanted;
sometimes I didn’t let my boss know that things weren’t moving forward as we hoped;
sometimes I didn’t explain things fully enough. I need to improve in those areas,” she said very calmly.
“So you need to work to improve in those areas, but not in everything,” I suggested.
“Yes, I guess I should look at things that way. I’ve been blaming myself more than I need to. Thank you for your advice.”
She had become quite cheerful.
Fumie didn’t realize just where she needed to improve, and had been blaming herself too much.
She cheered up and showed new energy when she realized that it wasn’t everything, but just a part that she needed to work to improve on.
We often encounter people who keep saying, “I’m just no good.”
The reason is most likely that they lack selfconfidence and want the hearer to understand their feelings of anxiety.
After listening carefully to what they have to say, if you reply that you don’t believe they are no good, and ask them for specific details about what their supposed “bad points” are, there are not many people who can give a clear, concrete reply.
They just feel that they are somehow “no good,” and criticize themselves even for things that no one else would regard as faults.
It is very important first of all to get a clear view of the areas that you really do need to improve in.
Regarding other areas, in which there are no problems, you needn’t criticize yourself.
Gradually, you will learn to accept yourself.
If you are always blaming yourself, thinking that everything is your fault, that is because you have not gained a clear view of where you actually do need to improve.
No one in this world is completely at fault for everything.
No matter who you are, the areas you need to improve on are only a part of the whole.