Blame is a destructive process.

It leads to criticism, accusation, punishment, and feelings of humiliation. It keeps you stuck and makes you miserable.

Blame hangs out with disapproval, condemnation, and shame—not good places to be.

If you’re playing the blame game—blaming yourself or others for events and experiences that hurt you in the past—try going beyond blame. Let go of your hurtful memories, painful emotions, and self-defeating behavior.

Once you free yourself from harmful emotional baggage, you can move forward with your life.

When You Need to Go Beyond Blame

You’ve got some letting go to do if you’re…

  • making unreasonable compromises of your values or your self-esteem to stay in a relationship or situation, and it’s making you miserable
  • stuck in a cycle of regret for what’s lost or what went wrong
  • angry and bearing grudges
  • afraid to move forward, meet someone new, find a new job or take a new path
  • denying yourself the opportunity for growth

You’re carrying harmful emotional baggage if you…

  • can’t stop thinking about past mistakes or choices you made or missed
  • have fears or doubts about the future, what you could lose, and things you can’t control
  • have been taking criticism personally, insisting on perfection, and are attached to specific results
  • can’t stop thinking repetitive, negative thoughts
  • have unrealistic expectations of yourself
  • stay in toxic friendships and think of yourself as a victim
  • keep trying to live up to other people’s standards and expectations, and you depend on approval from others
  • have painful emotions like guilt and shame

Your emotional baggage keeps you stuck, tangles your thoughts and emotions, prevents you from going forward, keeps you from growing, and makes you miserable.

Time to go beyond blame.

How to Free Yourself to Go Beyond Blame

1. Recognize What’s Happening and Why

Acknowledge that you are attached to what happened in the past and the emotions related to that experience. Then consciously decide to let them go.

Note: letting go does not mean suppressing your emotions. Let them out. Let yourself grieve, get emotional. Then let go of the thoughts, emotions, and ideas that are holding you back.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I holding onto that’s making me miserable?
  • What’s happening now because I’m holding on to this?
  • What will happen in the future if I continue to hold on to it?
  • What will I gain by letting this go?

2. Change Your Perspective

Take a step back from your problems. Imagine you are a third party, someone outside your situation. What does your problem look like from here?

Don’t judge, don’t “what if.” Just observe.

What is happening in the world outside you? What is happening inside, with your thoughts and emotions?

Work on changing negative thought patterns and emotions. Change the story you tell yourself. If your relationship ended, do you miss the person or is the idea of being with someone scary? If you were treated badly, know that you are worth more. Develop your self-esteem.

What have you learned from your experience? Can you avoid making the same mistakes next time?

Use the past to improve the way you live your life. Accept what happened but don’t let it define you. Find reasons to be positive. Reassure yourself, “This, too, will pass.”

3. Change Your Behavior

  • Write about your feelings. This may be a good time to start a daily journal. What made you feel miserable today? Describe it.
  • Think about what triggers your negative thoughts and feelings. Can you change your behavior to avoid those triggers? If going to the local coffee shop is hard because it makes you recall a happier time, find another coffee shop.
  • Rituals may help. Make a list of the things you need to release. Then burn it, tear it up, or throw it away.
  • Breathing exercises can help to calm you. Find a small token like a coin, a small rock, or a ring that you can carry with you. Each time you touch it, think about releasing and letting go.
  • Exercise. Focus on the present moment and let off steam. Moving your body produces physiological changes. It becomes easier for your brain to let go of negative thoughts and painful emotions.
  • Talk about your problem and your feelings. Find trusted listeners like good friends and sympathetic family members. Ask others who have conquered a problem like yours how they managed to let the bad things go.
  • Seek professional help. A trained listener like a therapist can help you find your way back to a healthier outlook.
  • Practice Patience. Change takes time. Persevere. Remember, thoughts are just thoughts.

Moving On—Beyond Blame

Moving on with your life after a painful experience means letting go.

Free yourself from harmful emotional baggage by putting it down and refusing to pick it up again.

After you acknowledge what has happened and the emotions that came with it, look at your situation from a new angle. Use techniques like writing, rituals, and exercise to help you let go of negative feelings. Talk with people you can trust, and break the habit of repeating negative thoughts.

Instead of letting yourself be paralyzed by “what ifs,” look beyond blame and move forward with your life. And don’t let that harmful emotional baggage pull you back down!