No-fault thinking

Is everything in your life harder than it needs to be? If so, it could be a result of no-fault thinking. Do this to make your life better.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

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Have you ever stopped to wonder what part you play when it comes to your unpleasantries? Yeah, me neither – or at least I spent a lot of my life with my head in the clouds of denial. More than that, I was completely oblivious (umm, nope) when it came to conflict in my life, for example. I think we know, most of the time, what we are doing.

Lucky for me, I had come to understand that many of the controversies I ran up against were, in fact, my doing. Yes, I am responsible for some – okay, a lot – of the drama in my life. And so are you. I’m willing to bet this is true whether you acknowledge it or not.

While that may sound abrupt, at the same time it’s likely. We can all agree that we have drama in our lives. However, have you ever wondered what its source is? Thankfully, we can find out; in other words, it can be fixed. Further, when you acknowledge what’s holding you back, you are one step closer to improvement. This is a good thing.

Say it with me

“I am often responsible for the controversies in my life.”

Question to ask oneself: What do I have to do to make my undesirable actions best for myself?

Firstly, it seems to me that we are prone to defiance. And if this is true, it would explain our tendency to deflect our part in our more destructive sides of our stories.

“If Joe (boss) wouldn’t have spoken to me over my poor work performance, I wouldn’t have got mad and quit.”

No-fault thinking

Can you see what’s wrong with this statement? I sure can. “Spoke to me over my poor work performance”? What this says is, “Somehow, even though my boss was doing his job and I wasn’t, it’s his fault.” When I read this back to myself, it sounded, well, silly. Of course, bad bosses can certainly lead to mediocre performance, but that said, I’d like to think it’s rare.

However, for our example, Joe is a great leader. So, who’s to blame for their poor work experience? Spoiler alert…… it’s not Joe.

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Instead, the creator of his own problems, the poor performer, has refused to believe his own follies. Perhaps he or she does realize them but would rather not confront them. Whatever the case, has their outright refusal bettered their life, or has it been made worse by way of projection?

If you guessed worse, you are correct. Not only has this individual not worked up to the task of his/her duties, but when questioned, he/she destroys themselves. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that self-destruction is never productive.

Is everything in your life harder than it needs to be? If so, you may be self-destructive.

No-fault thinking

Let’s go deeper than surface-level thinking and see just how far down the rabbit hole of no-fault thinking this goes. Let’s say this employee was you.

Ways no-fault thinking makes life worse

Self-sabotage

In the example above, it’s clear that placing the blame on he who has no part to play in the piss-poor behavior, is the proverbial jump into the hole of hell. And if one is constantly doing this, it’s constant self-sabotage.

Natural consequence

Telling your boss off and getting so angry that you quit has a monstrous consequence. You guessed it, unemployment. Moreover, if you have kids and a mortgage, you have put your family at risk. Not wise on your part. And to think, it all started over your poor work performance. Something, that if you had taken responsibility for, would have been in your power to correct. Thus, you’d still have a job, and your family would not be impacted by your lacklustre work. This screams, “It’s my fault.” Because you choose the ladder, the rabbit hole can only get deeper.

Denial equals repetition.

So, you’ve blamed everyone for your deficits…? While this is never wise, many of us still do it. Why? Well, maybe it stems from always being criticized as a child, or maybe you don’t want people to see how insecure you are. Regardless, if deflecting blame has become your go-to, chances are, you will remain locked in a state of denial and this perpetual state of conflict. Whatever the case, No-fault thinking is not good for personal growth.

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So then, what can be done?

Firstly, let’s start with an easy example. Most everyone that bangs into another person will say what? “I’m sorry, Correct? While I doubt that you give much thought to the reason why you say sorry, there is in fact, a reason. Essentially, we are taking responsibility for busting someone’s personal space bubble by crashing into them.

Sounds simple, right? You took responsibility for it. You didn’t say, “Watch where you’re going.” You were “at fault.” plain to see. However, if you were to have said, “Watch where you’re going,” what would have happened? What would the other person have said? “Watch where you’re going? You banged into me! Que colorful language. Again, we see that denial equals conserving.

In the example above, we can clearly see that taking responsibility for one’s actions is good for us; it’s the path of least resistance if you will. Not only is the path smoother, it’s also easier on a person. While it’s not always true that owning your mistakes can be completely void of issues, it sure helps cut them down.

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Think this example is altogether different than the one where you get mad and quit? I argue that the only difference is in the last one – that the offender did the right thing and thus, less controversy ensured.

And that’s really what’s at the heart of the matter. Defy-and-deny more often than not ends up bringing a world of hurt. What’s more, make it a lifetime practice and see where you end up.

The mental illness angle.

I bet you think that these examples don’t really apply to a mental-health condition. I think it is relevant. Here’s why. One can have, let’s say, depression and find it hard to navigate through the depressive episodes. Without question, depressive disorders are a monster to battle with. Been there, too many times. But say that my authentic self is the boss, and the depression is the inefficient employee.

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Depression makes denial its modus operandi, saying things like, “I can’t do it” and “no one cares”. But Who’s driving the bus? The boss (authentic self) or your depression (the employee)? Our true selves know what we must do, but the side of us that’s depressed wants to shove it all downward and deny it.

Moreover, it says It’s Just Easier to forget it, go to work if able or stay in bed, if not. But it is my contention that we must face this demon. One baby step at a time if necessary… It’s never “just easier” to ignore. So, if you seek therapy, for example, it’s acknowledging to yourself that “Yes, I am going to try and do better.” In doing so, you’re heading down the road to mental wellness.

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Whereas if you decide to not grow, your depression’s denial will win. And as in the other brand of not taking responsibility, as in the other example, it will cause a cascade of trouble. Untreated mental illness can put you out of work and create distance between you and those you love.

So, whatever you face, no matter how dark it seems, no matter how little responsibility you want to take, do it anyway. It’s only kinder to you and will cultivate a growth mindset.

No-fault thinking copyright 2022

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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