How We Attack Ourselves and Then Blame Others


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Relationships, Thought | Posted on 11-29-2017

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Are You Attacking Yourself?[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version. See also the corresponding video on this topic.]

I was gifted with a HUGE insight recently. I saw how what I perceived as a verbal attack on me was not what I thought it was. With this realization, it was crystal clear where my bad/mad/scared feelings came from.

I felt attacked based on my own deep-seated unconscious beliefs that I was not good enough. Beliefs, I daresay, that I didn’t even know I had!

In other words, my feelings were 100% created from my own insecure thoughts–not what was said to me.

When I realized this, I saw through the illusion I had innocently created in my mind.

Here’s the story of what happened, and the insight that came from it…

A Snail Mail Tale

Most of the snail mail we get delivered is junk mail, so I’m rarely in a hurry to take it out of the mailbox. For the past few years, our daughter has been picking it up on the way home from her walks. This month, however, she’s been staying with her grandmother.

The other morning, it occurred to my husband before heading to work that the mail may not have been brought in for awhile. So he asked me if I wanted him to pick it up on his way out. It was a simple, innocuous question, but I felt myself tense up and become defensive.

Apparently, in my mind, I had determined that it was MY job to get the mail. Obviously I was falling down on the job! Of course my husband never said that, nor implied it, yet that’s what I heard. I felt my old familiar anxiety rise up within me as I told him, “It’s fine. It’s all junk mail anyway. I’ll check it later.”

Unbeknownst to me, he checked it anyway on his way to work. About an hour later I saw a message from him flash by that said, “The post office took the mail.” I immediately knew that meant the mailbox had become too full, so the mail carrier left a note and brought the mail back to the post office.

Again, I tensed up.

I felt myself become defensive, as if under attack.

Why was he purposely trying to make me feel bad?” were the thoughts that went through my mind.

I decided to ignore his message for awhile. In my warped thinking, I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being right about how “lazy” I was. I also knew that responding when I was feeling anxious was not a good idea–I still had some wits about me!

Eventually, I calmed down. I still hadn’t responded to him, but I looked online to see if there was a way to tell the post office to redeliver the mail without me having to go pick it up. (See…I told you I was lazy!) When it was clear that I was going to have to make the trip to the post office, I figured I’d need the note they left in the box. So I finally responded to my husband’s message by asking if he had the note. He told me it was still in the mailbox.

That was the extent of our “conversation.”

I’m not sure when the realization hit me. But at some point, it was crystal clear that he was simply providing me with the facts of the situation. Neither he, nor his message were the reason I felt attacked. Even if he was judging me and thinking I was lazy (and I don’t believe he was) he couldn’t be the cause of my bad feelings.

I’m the only one with the power to make myself feel bad.

In other words, I had innocently attacked myself via my thoughts, and blamed it on my husband. God knows how many other times in our 34 years of marriage that I’ve done that!

As you can see, the situation itself was trivial. I’m sure that’s how it sounded to you as you were reading it. It seems that way to me now, too. But while I was in the throes of it, it sure seemed like a big f’n deal!

Which is kind of scary.

Just think how often we make big deals out of nothing.

All because we’re pretending to be some sort of preposterously perfect person.

These kinds of interactions and misinterpretations happen to us every single day. It’s all the little comments that we take personally, which cause most of our relationship problems.

Imagine what may have happened if I didn’t see through my made-up mail tale. It’s probable that I would have spent the day feeling bad and blaming my husband for it. And/or I may have said something unkind to him at some point.

I could have easily started an unnecessary fight.

All because of my own insecurities.

How many arguments could be avoided if we could only see through our illusions?

Imagine how much better all of our relationships could be if we were more attuned to our own habits of insecure thinking.

Now I know some of you are thinking that I’m blaming and/or shaming the victim. Yet that’s not it at all. In no way am I saying that we are purposely causing our own suffering. We cannot control the thoughts that come into our heads.

We are never purposely making ourselves feel bad.

Our thoughts come to us, and we unconsciously react to them.

That’s our lives. It’s all done innocently based on old habits. We’re no different than good ‘ole Pavlov’s Dog.

I’m also not saying that other people are never mean to us. People can definitely be mean due to their own insecurities. But when we are able to see where our reactions to them come from, bad situations can easily and quickly be diffused.

How often are you upset over something someone said to you? Is it possible that it’s your own insecurities at the heart of the matter?


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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

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Leave Your Thoughts Below(12)

So very true! And it’s funny because I can see others doing this same behavior (and sometimes they shift course) but it generally hits me a little too late when it’s me that’s doing this.

Great post!

Totally! So much easier to see when it’s others doing it. But what a relief those times when we can spot it in ourselves.

Thanks for commenting, Pat!

You are so right thank you for that. I never looked at it that way.

You’re welcome, Sabrina!

I can relate, my twin sister pushes my buttons, she has insecurities. But I react to her and say things I shouldn’t say. It makes her mad and it is hard to be around her. She is so negative!

Glad you can relate, Brenda. Is there any way you can see that it’s not your sister “pushing your buttons” but your buttons being on auto pilot via your own thoughts? Let me know if you ever want to have a chat about it!

Hi Jill, great post, it really brought home the fact that this is happening constantly on an inter personal level, until you wake up to whats really going on within and again how it extrapolates out to the wider world and crazy state we find our world in. Hope all is good with you and yours. Much love xxx

Thanks, Mel! Nice to hear from you.

Thanks, Jill, I love how you have articulated this form of “self-sabotage” – or, as you more eloquently put it, “How We Attack Ourselves and Then Blame Others”.

This happened to me just yesterday. In conversation with a good friend. Me getting more irritated with what was ‘not being said’ by her (but was being said in my head, consciously or not). A madness, really.

And, for me – and this is my theoretical thinking now – it all seems to stem from some deep-seated (unconscious) belief that a) I must not be wrong or b) I must not be selfish/mean/’some other unpleasant human characteristic’ or c) I must not be discovered doing a) or b)!

Of course it all really stems from Thought (but my intellect likes to know ‘more’, likes to be the clever one who ‘knows’).

Anyway, thank you. I do hope this realisation for you was mostly a positive one. I have to admit to being a bit narky with myself on noticing this nonsense yesterday lol.



Thanks for commenting, Steve. Glad you liked it and could relate.

For me, it was a real eye-opener in so many ways. First, in the seeing that it was me attacking myself. But even more so to clearly see the insecurities I have covered up for so long. I’m generally not one of those who “beat themselves up” about stuff. Instead, I just blame others! At least this was the story I’d been telling myself. But this little insight showed me otherwise. That I do, in fact, beat myself up. A lot. Just in more unconscious way. THEN I cover it up by showing myself how much better I am than everyone else.

This was positive for me, seemingly because it came from insight and not me digging into my psyche to try and figure it all out. I’m interested to see what, if any, lasting affects it might have. 🙂

Hate to admit this, but I think looking for, and finding unintentional meaning is a typically female are generally much more black and white.

Thanks, but not really sure how that relates to this post.