Blame, Blame, Blame ....

27 November, 2014

... it's looking for a person.  Is that person you?  Or are you the one doing the blaming?

At the moment, there's something in the air about blame.  People are either feeling blamed by someone, or getting blamed by someone and believing it and feeling bad, or blaming themselves (self-blame).  So what is it, how do we notice it, and what can we do about it?

Feeling blamed

The feeling word is in italics, because in this case I mean it as a perception or a feeling the person has, and is not necessarily true, i.e. it's not necessarily the intention of the other person to blame that person for something, they may not be doing that at all, but nevertheless you still end up having the experience of feeling blamed for something.  This is one to watch out for, as it's likely to be an old pattern of yours that can weave its way into your pereception of things and leave you feeling responsible for another person's feelings or issues unnecessarily.  Think about: did you feel blamed for things as a child by your parents when things went 'wrong'?  Have you had a close relationship in your life where the person wanted you to take sole responsibility for things not going well, or for the way they were behaving towards you - using language like "you make me do/feel like this, I don't do/feel like this with anyone else!" and you bought in to this on some level?   If you often feel responsible for other's feelings or behaviours then this is likely a pattern of yours.  What would it be like to let go of that?

Getting blamed

Now here's an interesting one.  This is where you have someone in your life who is actually refusing to take responsibility for their own problems or feelings, and instead is hell-bent in trying to make you responsible for their problems or feelings.   The will use language like "you make me feel" and "I don't do this with anyone else so it must be you" or "this is all your fault".  This is on the extreme and obvious end, and sometimes the blaming from others can be more subtle and insidious and harder to detect.  If the person is really good at it, then you buy into it and believe them, and may even enter into dysfunctional behaviour like trying to change them, or trying to solve their problems for them, mistakingly thinking "if it's all my fault then I'd better do something to fix it" or "if only I could just love them/care about them more, then they would change for the better".  The thing is, depending on the person and where they're at with this, it's often way too painful to take a look inside themselves and admit where they might be going wrong, or where they might need to change and improve themselves, which is why it's way easier to clump it all together and dump it all on you.  It's unlikely that anything you do will make a difference to them, until they get to a place where they can own their own problems.  Sad, but true.

Self-blame

Perhaps this is the worst kind - it can certainly be the most insidious kind of blaming, as we don't always notice that we're doing it to ourselves.  It can contain all the components of the first example, feeling blamed, but may often not involve another person triggering it at all, but we trigger it off in ourselves.  It's often tied in, insidiously, with the perfectionist strategy:  we have a- largely unconscious and under the surface - idea of how things are supposed to be in our head - i.e. I must do a perfect down-dog at yoga class, or I must earn a certain amount to consider myself a 'good' provider, and then when things don't match up to this ideal we're holding, we automatically turn on ourselves and start self-blaming.  Usually with some pretty unkind internal dialogue that (unless we pay super-attention to it and stop it) goes on and on and causes us to bad about ourselves.  It's such a shame because often the perfect ideals we hold unconsciously are unattainable, don't really matter, or perhaps will just take a good amount of time to achieve, time we often don't allow ourselves (I have to be perfect now!).   See if you can notice this within, you will notice it when things don't turn out as you expected - how are you treating yourself inside your head?  Could that be more realistic/kinder?  How would I talk to a friend in this situation?

To deal with any of these types of blaming takes some personal strength.  It takes some noticing, and some relationship-boundary setting.  These things are hard, especially if we're dealing with a person in your life who is significant to you.  I've had a few examples of 'getting blamed' recently, one being someone very close to me in my family.  I don't want to lose the relationship, but I also know that the relationship in its current form does not work for me.  I think it's worth getting clear on what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable, and being prepared to walk away if the person can't respect this.  The fundamental truth is that you're 100% responsible for how you feel and behave, and everyone else is 100% responsible for how they feel and behave. You can help others, if that's appropriate for you, but you can't do it for them.  It would be so much either if we could change others to suit ourselves!  There is power in realising the truth that you simply can't, and you don't want a life where you end up dealing with OPPs (other people's problems). 

What can you change about the blame dynamic in your life?

Charlotte.

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