Learning How to Replace Self-Blame with Self-Acceptance


Forgiveness of others is dependent on our ability to forgive ourselves.

If we are prone to exercising blame and intolerance towards ourselves, then our ability to forgive others will be limited. (Read more on Self-Anger.)

If we have suffered from, or have been exposed to any kind of trauma, we will have acquired the propensity to take what happens in our outside environment personally. (Read more on Trauma.)

Taking our outside environment personally leads to shame and self-rejection. (Read more on Personalizing.)

As we move along our in our personal growth process we learn to replace self-shame for self-acceptance.

If my employer berates me on one particular day for not doing some work correctly, and I move into my usual mode of coping by beating myself up for the rest of the day, then I am operating from my trauma.


In the above triangle one side is devoted to my contribution to any relationship, while the other diagonal represents the contribution the other person has made.

Given the scenario with my employer and my willingness to beat myself up, I am heavily invested in the diagonal of the triangle devoted to my contribution to the relationship.

If I hung out solely on the opposite diagonal, I would blame my employer without being willing to acknowledge my contribution to his complaint.

When we operate from the perpendicular of the triangle, we have the opportunity to see and acknowledge both sides of the story.

From the perpendicular, we are able to ask the question:

What was my responsibility and what was the other person’s responsibility?

As opposed to falling heavily upon my side of the triangle and seeing only my contribution or the lack of it, I am able to bring my boss’s side into the equation.

Is he having a bad day? Is he bringing some home stresses into work and transferring them onto me, therefore is he able to be rational in his critique towards me? Is he over-reacting, given that this is the first body of work I have produced that is below standard? When I look over my work, or ask a colleague to do so, I may arrive at the conclusion that he has a point, that he is correct in his assessment.

This is operating from the perpendicular. It is the holding and sustaining of our Authentic Self experience. (Read more on Authentic Self.)


When I operate from Authentic Self, I see all sides of the situation.

I am loath to resort to old trauma-based coping mechanisms that are quick to shame, or to over-blame others.

When I am operating from Authentic Self, I am willing to take responsibility and see my part in situation,

If after some self-examination I was to conclude that the boss has a point after all, and my work was not up to standard, I would do everything else other than resort to beating myself up for it, and moving into needless regret. (Read more on Regret.)

I would look at my limitations. Did I bring my stresses into work that day and was I distracted? Do I need to listen to instructions more? Do I need to educate myself more on what is expected of me? Would it be advisable to approach the boss and work out how to address this? (Read more on Limitations.)

Notice, there is no hint of my beating myself up. I am acknowledging my limitations, and in the same way recognizing on that particular day what I was able to do and what I was not able to do.

I hold my centre-line. This is the home of my compassion. This is my threshold into my territory of forgiveness.

If I am able to see myself through these eyes and behave towards myself in these ways, I am operating within the territory of forgiveness. (Read more on Forgiveness.)

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2 thoughts on “Learning How to Replace Self-Blame with Self-Acceptance

  1. Hello Pietro,

    Some thoughts on triangles and forgiveness.
    I found this section of your book very enlightening. I am a visual learner and am delighted to be able to add your Perpendicular triangle visual to my collection of visual healing tools.

    I am very partial to the shape of a triangle. I have often use Maslow’s triangle or my own vision board triangle in reaching for solutions to various challenges. Using enneagram teachings in a triangular form has also given a lot of answers. The enneagram works in a circle of nine, and at each point there are three levels of living. I envision this circle to be a 3-D triangle. At what level am I living? Am I living from an unhealthy perspective, at the bottom reaches, or am I living from a healthy state in the middle, or am I reaching upwards, and seeing the possibilities of what I can be at my best? Looking at your Perpendicular triangle, am I really seeing all sides of a situation, or am I looking at it from a trauma based place? Can forgiveness of myself or others help the challenge.

    I especially love the visual you chose to show the freedom of forgiveness. The cage, opened, and the person walking into the distance, with the rainbow umbrella arcing over her, through shadows (snow) and light (sunlight hitting the snow) and the birds circling above. It’s quite a powerful image.

    Thank you for sharing your insights, and I look forward one day to having a copy of your book.
    Best wishes, Pietro



  2. Pietro – thank you for your ability to discern what is mine from what is someone else’s responsibility – this can be difficult to see when locked in a cycle of shame and self blame.

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