We have all been there right, “I reacted that way because she would not stop nagging me”. “He makes me so angry!” I am the only one that is making any effort around here!” These are common phrases that, at the root, are anchored in blame. It is fascinating that so many are willing to relinquish their ability to control their own words and behavior. Nobody can make you say or do anything and believing this erroneous idea is the breeding ground for anger and frustration. How often we try to control our spouse, partner or situation only to find that we have made it worse. How comforting it is to know that we have the ability to change our outlook by looking inward instead of outward.
Blame is often a major factor in marital discord and is also used to satisfy the human need for an explanation of unwanted events or the cause of choosing action or inaction. For example, I may blame the school board for being bias as the reason I did not receive the acceptance letter. A mother experiencing a miscarriage may find herself looking to God as to why He would allow something so terrible to happen. One might blame an illness or disability as the reason for lack of success or happiness in life.
Human nature is to placate and pacify the underlying issue which at the core is pain. In almost all cases ranging from argument, tragedy or disappointments, blame can be linked to the desire to dull the hurt, looking at someone else instead of being vulnerable to feelings. As the old Native American Saying goes: “Every time you point a finger in scorn there are three remaining fingers pointing right back at you.”
When we feel that discomfort and we desire to point the finger can I suggest a healthy alternative by first taking a moment to ground yourself in the present? This may require practices of mindfulness, meditation or simply removing yourself from the situation so you can be alone with your thoughts. Once in that place, I and almost all my clients have found it helpful to ask one simple question. “Are the things I am saying and doing going to get me what I actually want?” Winning an argument at times may feel satisfying but in reality will always be a loss. This is easier said than done and will require practice and humility.
Let us now take that question a step deeper by calling it to action. “What can I say, do, or think to get me what I actually want?” You are in the driver seat at this point and in control of the outcome. Imagine if couples were willing to commit to this mindset together. There would be no breeding ground for resentment. There would be no harsh words said because the end result would not give them what they want.
May you experiment upon this suggestion and find the power and peace that comes when accountability replaces blame and thoughtful mediation allows you to ask the question to give you the freedom you seek and deserve. Let blame be a thing of the past and live a life that is full and within your control.