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"How Could You Do That To Me?" Overcoming Blame
by Cate Russell-Cole
10/19/2015 / Christian Living
Found online: "My son came over drunk one evening, and became extremely belligerent, to the point where my husband and I had to ask him to leave. The next day, he phoned his grandmother, and said we kicked him out of our house. He is not on speaking terms with his girlfriend, and has not spoken to his sister in 10 years. I'm sure you can see a pattern here. My question is, what should my husband and I do?"
Communication problems in relationships make things so hard. It is awful to be misunderstood, or misinterpreted. It is distressing to be too scared say what you want to say. Not enough time made for talking and sharing, or feeling your needs are being ignored can be hurtful. One of the most frustrating and agonising problems is being blamed for something that isn't your fault. What can you do about it? If you protest your innocence you are made to look guilty. If you ignore it, it can still lodge in your mind, and eat away at how you see yourself and your relationship like acid. If the blamer is locked into a pattern where they blame other people consistently, unless they want to change, there is not a lot you can do about it. "Andrew is very unpleasant if I have guests over for dinner. He refuses to socialize, and stays in the bedroom watching television until they leave. I can live with that, but then he becomes angry with me for "taking away his evenings." I realize Andrew likes to relax after a hard day at work, but I feel isolated and lonely. I say he is being unreasonable. He says I'm being selfish." As Lisa has written here, the argument goes on, but is never resolved. It won't be resolved until both parties can look honestly at their feelings and actions.
Blame is not taking responsibility for your own actions (or lack of action), or feelings. What blamers say in a moment of anger is, as far as they are concerned, not their fault - they were provoked. The classic example of blame is the phrase, "you make me so mad." It is never the fault of the blamer, it is always yours. The reason they state as to why they never achieved or pursued their goals is because other things, or people, got in the way. They believe they are not miserable because they failed, but because other people treated let them down, so they never had a chance to succeed. If there is a relationship break up, it is the other parties fault. Sure, we all feel tempted to keep our copybook clean and lay the blame for some embarrassing incident or failure on someone else. That is normal human nature. We never want to admit, or sometimes even see, what we're really like, warts and all. All of us have made excuses for ourselves, but blame can become like an addiction where we consistently and regularly block out the truth. Blamers take the standpoint of living their lives at other's mercy and whims, despite how obvious the real truth may be. The end result of continuous blaming is the poisoning of our relationships with others, and the way we see the world. The poison in our hearts and minds makes us suspicious and bitter towards anyone who we perceive has wronged us, or held us back in any way. This in it's turn, can lead to hatred and irreconcilable relationship breakdowns.
People who habitually resort to blame feel impotent when they can't control other people, and thus can't control their world. "They put us in this position," blamers say. However, if you accept accountability for your part in being in the circumstances you are in (and your attitudes and feelings,) maybe there will be something you can do to get yourself out of it? Blame is a sign of emotional immaturity. Mature adults are able to look at themselves and ask, "Why did I act that way?" "Why do I feel this way?" "Did that happen because of something I did?" "Do I need to make changes?" Change is only a simple, conscious decision away. Our behaviour and feelings are our own, and even if feelings get out of control, we can still control our behaviour. We are not children who have no self control. It is always easier to blame other people, but if it makes us feel worse, makes problems even more complex and starts to destroy our relationships with loved ones, is the price we pay really worth it?
Life without blame has many benefits, even if it is painful to see the truth about ourselves. You can be less defensive. You'll have a much greater sense of inner peace, especially as you don't have to use up as much emotional energy defending yourself, and making sure you don't get found out. Living in honesty with ourselves and others, and being accountable for our own actions means we can build more secure loving relationships, and be able to solve problems easier. It means being capable of growing and moving onto a new phase in our lives. You can't grow to become a stronger, happier person out of a dishonest foundation. Only by taking a long, hard honest look at ourselves and where we really need to change, can new growth take root, so our lives can start to blossom and grow.
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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