The blame game – what’s it all about?
Do you find yourself blaming others for your feelings? Discover how you are actually causing your own feelings of anger or hurt and what you can do differently.
Take a moment to think about who you blame for your feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, aloneness, emptiness, inadequacy, shame, depression, anxiety, fear and so on. What is really going on inside when you blame someone else for your feelings?
Many people have a strong belief that other people are the cause of their feelings — that they are victims of others’ choices — so they have a right to blame others. The belief that others cause your feelings generally starts early in childhood when parents blamed each other, or you, for their feelings. Most people do not grow up seeing parents or other caregivers take responsibility for causing or managing their own feelings. Nor do they see people learning from their feelings. Instead, they see people avoiding their feelings in various ways, such as using addictions to numb them out, or using blame to dump them onto others.
If you have a deep belief that others cause many of your feelings, then it seems only right to blame them for causing your pain or not making you happy. When you come from this belief, the only way you can move out of feeling like a victim is to try to control the other person into not doing the thing that you think is causing your pain, or to do the thing that you think will make you happy.
Blame is always a form of control that originates in the wounded part of oneself that hates to feel helpless. Rather than accept your powerlessness over others’ choices, you convince yourself that if you blame the other person, you can get the other to behave the way you want.
The problem is that the belief that others cause all of your feelings is not true. While others can cause feelings such as loneliness and heartbreak — what we call ‘core feelings,’ they do not cause your aloneness, emptiness, anxiety, depression, guilt or shame.
For example, let’s say that you come home after a difficult day wanting to share your day with your partner and your partner is on the phone. You indicate that you want to speak with him/her but your partner keeps talking on the phone. If you end up feeling hurt and angry, it is easy to believe that it is your partner’s neglect that is causing your hurt and anger. But let’s take two different inner reactions to see what is really causing these feelings.
You say to yourself, “My partner doesn’t care about me. I’m not important to him/her.”
If this is what you say to yourself, then of course you will feel hurt and angry, but it is not because of what your partner is doing — it is because of what you are telling yourself. Once you make the assumption that your partner’s behavior indicates a lack of caring, you might overtly blame your partner for your feelings by getting angry, or you might covertly blame by shutting down, punishing your partner through withdrawing your love.
You say to yourself, “My partner is busy right now with something important to him/her, so I will take this opportunity to relax and decompress so we can have a nice time later sharing the events of our day.”
If this is what you say to yourself, then you would not end up feeling hurt and angry, and you would not blame and punish your partner.
Let’s take another situation. You have picked up something at the hardware store for the house and your partner blames you for getting the wrong thing, saying, “This is not what I told you to get. Can’t you ever do anything right?”
In this case, your partner has judged you as being inadequate or stupid. You feel hurt at being treated badly and you lash out in blame, “I just got what you told me to get. You are a bad communicator. There’s never any pleasing you.”
Doesn’t it seem logical that your anger and hurt are coming from your partner’s judgment of you?
If you said to yourself, “I’m inadequate, I’m stupid,” then you will feel hurt and angry. However, if you said to yourself, “It looks like my partner had a bad day,” and didn’t take your partner’s blame personally, you might feel compassion instead of hurt and anger. You might respond with, “Honey, have you had a difficult day?”
Blaming another is always a way to avoid responsibility for what you are telling yourself and how you are treating yourself that may be causing your feelings.
[Margaret Paul Relationship Toolbox]