If you tell someone that you’re considering bankruptcy, they may ask you what you did wrong. They mean well, but they’re actually just implying that this is your fault. That’s problematic because the truth is that bankruptcy usually is not the fault of the person filing, and our society would do well to move away from this blame-based outlook when considering financial challenges. 

For instance, people may assume that you just used your credit cards too liberally and now you can’t pay them off. And that may be true. But when researchers looked into it, they found that this was only the No. 3 reason for bankruptcy filings. Plus, even in these cases, you can’t always blame people. Maybe they had an emergency that was out of their hands and had to use their credit cards. Everyone’s story is unique. 

The two most common reasons for bankruptcy, however, are medical bills and job loss. Maybe you were in a car accident with an uninsured driver and accrued medical bills that you can’t cover. Most often, medical bills are related to something like cancer or an unexpected disease that you had no control over. Maybe your financial problems are related to the loss of your employment. Job loss is often related to downsizing, recessions or just changes in the general economy. 

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t blame yourself for bankruptcy, and neither should anyone else. Don’t think of it that way. Just think of it as a legal tool that can help you when outside factors make it difficult to get by financially.