Shadow pointing finger at a man

Failure = Unworthy of Love


Have you ever wondered how a critical, judgmental person lives with himself or herself? The answer is: not very well!

Our perception of success and failure is often our primary basis for evaluating ourselves and others. If we believe that performance reflects one’s value and that failure makes one unacceptable and unworthy of love, then we will usually feel completely justified in condemning those who fail, including ourselves.

An element of Satan’s formula that has come to permeate the American cultural landscape goes something like this:

Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.

Even as you’re reading, some of us are unclear on why this statement might not be true or good. This mindset is a byproduct of our fallen nature, which shifts human life from intimacy with God to a dichotomous world where everything is looked at through the lens of black/white, good/bad, right/wrong. From this worldview it only makes sense that those who choose right or good should deserve good things and those who choose wrong or bad should deserve bad things. But this is not the viewpoint that we’re taught in scripture.

Shadow pointing finger at a man

Someone Has To Be Blamed

Many of us have been brainwashed and broken by the false belief that those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished. Whether conscioiuslly or unconsciously, we all tend to point an accusing finger, assigning tlame to virtually every failure. Whenever we fail to receive approval for our performance, we are likely to search for a reson, a culprit, or a scapegoat. More often than not, we can find no one but ourselves to blame, so the accusing finger points right back at us. Self-condemnation is a very severe form of punishment.

If possible, we will often try to place the blame on others and fulfill the “law of retribution” — that people should get what they deserve. For most of our lives, we have been conditioned to make someone pay for failures and shortcomings. For every flaw we see around us, we usually search for someone to blame, hoping to exonerate ourselves by making sure that the one who failed is properly identified and punished.

Another reason we seek to blame others is that our success often depends on their contribution. Their failure is a threat to us. When the failure of another blocks our goal of success, we usually respond by defending ourselves and blaming them, often using condemnation to manipulate them to improve their performance. Blaming others also helps us put a safe distance between their failure and our fragile self-worth.

Whether our accusations are focused on ourselves or others, we all have a tendency to believe that someone has to take the blame.

In my next posting I’ll discuss healthier ways to respond to failure, whether our own or the failure of others.


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