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Don't Play the Blame Game

Image of young siblings points fingers at each other. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, blame, Katherine Broad

"Blame does not help. As long as there is blame there will be irrational attempts at restitution for the damage done—such a guilty restitution often results only in more damage. What we strive for is a deeper humility before the process that governs us and the ability to live through them with greater simplicity and honesty.” Unknown

It's easy to live a life of blame. It crops up everywhere, from being spoken aloud during arguments to our own internal monologues as we rationalize why we make the choices we do. And blame is a problem.

When we live a life of blame, it stops our forward motion. It prevents us from being creative in finding ways to growth, solutions and healing. It stops us from seeing our wounds and the many ways we use to hide our pain and sorrow. We use punishment as the solution rather than love and connection.

Blame Hurts

Blame hurts everyone involved, whether you're the one dishing it out, or the one receiving it. Receiving blame causes one to be angry and want to fight back, which escalates the conflict. Being blamed undermines self-confidence and

self-esteem, so one stops thinking clearly and strategically. That means one of the partners in the relationship is no longer cooperating and working toward solutions; that partner is now fighting back, often creating their own blame game. It creates feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

The Blamer

But what about the person who is doing the blaming? What is happening inside of that person's mind? Research shows that people who blame learn less and perform worse than those who do not. Blame creates inaction. Blaming others for what is happening is a way of giving control to someone else. If you say someone else is the cause of your problem, then you have given that person all the power to change or affect the situation. It takes away your ability to change your own situation, because the implicit message is that you are unable to move forward until someone else changes.

When the blamer digs in their heels, it blocks the way for them to talk about their fears, disappointment and sadness in a heartfelt way. It prevents you from seeing your partner as he or she exists in the moment, and makes you see your partner as unconcerned, uncaring and indifferent.

Blame Blinds You to Reality

You may even see your partner as lazy and incompetent. Blame prevents you from seeing any good, any hope or any of the efforts that are made to resolve the situation. As a result you will not acknowledge any positive efforts because you don't see them, and any good will, efforts to resolve the situation, or attempts to connect, will soon end from lack of nurture.

Perhaps the most damaging part of blame is the shame it creates in both the blamer and the blamed. No one escapes this feeling of being inferior, and unworthy of respect and love. It says that no matter what you do or say, it is never going to enough.

What a lonely alone place to live.

I believe that most people do not want to live this way, but get caught in a web of feelings and expectations that they cannot escape. As hard as it may be to start, there are some simple questions to ask yourself to begin to cut the strands that hold you in this web.

1. What can I do? What action can I take that does not depend on my partners words and action?

There is always something that can be done to help yourself. It may be as simple as taking a break from the situation and taking a walk so you can calm down and regain some perspective.

2. How can I think about my experience so that I am not blaming my partner?

Get some distance from the situation and ask yourself what you heard. Look at the facts and see if what you heard was accurate. Can you rethink the motives involved? Did you read some meaning into the situation that does not apply?

3. How can I talk to my partner in non-blaming ways now that I have a better understanding of my experience?

To be able to talk about a situation from your perspective can be empowering. By

changing, “you” statements to “I” statement, you move the locus of control from outside to inside.

4. How can I be curious about what my partner is experiencing in this situation without having to agree or give up my perspective?

One of the most astonishing lessons I ever learned was how many different

experiences people can have during the same situation; how people see the same color in such different hues, intensity and brilliance.

5. Can I get curious about my partner’s experience, even when I don’t agree?

Curiosity adds so much to one’s life: information, interest, variety and much more. As you gain information, you can gain understanding. With knowledge and understanding, you will not feel so powerless and victimized.

6. What do I need in order to give up the need to be right?

When you get trapped in an unyielding belief that you are right and there is no other way to see a situation, there is something invisible at work inside of you. You do not have to be wrong to give up being right. Just as there are many shades of a color there are many nuances to a belief, answer or experience. There really is room for everyone to get their needs met and their desires heard.

To give up blame is to give up the position of being a victim. By moving from blame to questioning opens the possibility that power can be shared, solutions created and growth can occur.

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