Have you noticed that, when anything negative, unpleasant or embarrassing happens, people look for something or someone to blame?
Even if they trip on the sidewalk, it's the city's fault, or bad workmanship, or the Universe out to get them! What about thinking about their part in it? Not so much!
How about you? Are you ready to stop blaming others?
You know what I'm talking about. It is so much easier to blame. You won't be surprised to hear that couples are skilled at blaming each other for everything that is going sideways in their relationships...and, often, in their lives in general! That's what I see daily as a relationship expert. It's healthy to stop blaming others.
Couples come in and point fingers at their partners, forgetting that when they point at someone they have three fingers pointing back at themselves. Great combination of projection and denial!
I recently read a well-written article that a colleague, Michael Toebe, shared with me on blame. Using the story of Harvey Milk's trial and the suicide of the man convicted as an example, the author, Kendall P. Person, offered these wise insights:
"When our decisions and our choices, wreak havoc in our lives, we may tend to become more defensive, angry without knowing why. We are challenged in getting back on track, everything we do derails, and everything we try does fail. So we begin the dissection of blame, assigning each disappointment to a family member or friend. We blame our parents for something they did, ignoring the reality, it has been 40 years since then. We blame immigrants for taking our job, dismissing the notion, that we were caught sleeping, while guarding the store. Obsessed by blaming others, becoming a victim in our own mind, leads to a confusion so complete, we live in a belief, based on our own lies.
Stumbles, free-falls and mistakes happen, but most scars are not permanent, if we accept, we can learn from and avoid the same mistakes. Blame is not always malicious or done with intent, it protects our psyches, when they are frail, offering self-esteem when needed,rejecting the reality of its false existence. The importance of accepting responsibility for our choices that turned bad, cannot be understated. It is how we start to heal."
Blame is not a waterfall, constantly running downstream away from you.
Blame has backlash, constantly eroding its source.
~ Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
When G. Charles Andersen and I wrote the book, Soul Solitude, we talked about the incidiousness of blame, the subtle and cumulative harmfulness to others AND to yourself. Our conclusion: Best to stop blaming others and become an emotional grown-up. Ready?
WHERE ARE THE STRONGEST ROOTS OF BLAME?
Folks use blame as an ego-defense folks. They use blame to project their fears, concerns, issues, etc. about themselves onto others. If I were writing ad copy for blame, it might go like this:
"Easy to apply. Effective on the average person. Efficient at debilitating others. Ego-Satisfying because it's nothing to do with you. What more could you want? Engage in blame now and give up that nasty accountability. No one will notice. They will be too wounded or angry to even realize!" (Small print: Side effects - You may find yourself angry, irritable, ostracized, often lonely.)
On a more serious note, the ego is not a fan of self-reflection. It behaves as though anyone out there, at any time in our past, present and future, is a much more likely cause for our conditions, relationships and situations than we could possibly be ourselves. Problem with it is just as I said, "...backlash, constantly eroding its source."
In a somewhat convoluted, though perfectly justified way, people who blame send out the arrow they know is destined for themselves on a circuitous journey, forgetting that it is really a boomerang.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME
The most effective way is one word: STOP! Simple but definitely easy because blame can be so deeply entrenched within us.
Although you might think this advice is self-serving, it is the best from my thirty years of experience: the path to stopping blaming others is to work with an experienced therapist to uncover old decisions that continue to cause present patterns.
Often, when I'm working with clients, they are so hopeful that I will buy that all their present woes are the fault of their parents, bosses, etc.. Their friends buy it. Why won't I?
Now, clearly, we are very affected by our upbringing. So before anyone jumps on that, let me say this: we are affected by it, but it is a learning tool. Whether or not we choose to see it that way is indicative of our maturity. When we re-visit it with the help of a knowledgeable professional, we can see the decisions we made at the time, or the sense we made of it later, and understand how those choices now affect the life we have. Or, as Dr. Phil is fond of asking about current behaviors, "How's that workin' for you?"
Then, the work begins to construct a life of choice, founded on my client's present values, vision and hopes for his/her life, relationships, beliefs and sense of purpose. AND, a a blame-free, game-free and manipulation-free life that works, satisfies and fulfills! Now, that's success!
Believe or not, when you stop blaming others, you are empowered!
If you have a #Hijackal in your life, or think you might have, get my free ebook, How To Spot A Hijackal, at Hijackals.com Need help to know your next best steps? If you would like more help, subscribe to my Tips for Relationships, and listen to my Podcasts. Start with an introductory session. Talk soon!
Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.