Blame is a person’s belief that someone else is responsible for them feeling bad. We often blame other people but also we self-blame. Blame is usually accompanied by the assumption (true or not) that the other person can behave differently. Frequent blame poisons relationships.
We know we are blaming when we say things like “S/he always/never…..”, You are ridicuously unreasonable …” And “Normal people don’t …”. etc. In self-blame we say – “I’m so stupid/mad/bad to have ..”
Couples sometimes generate a alliance of blame. One person does the blame and the other does self-blame in a closed loop. This often happens when someone has done something “wrong” like an affair or an addiction; or has a “difficult” character trait such is forgetfulness, quick temper, being over emotional or withdrawn.
It may be that someone is behaving badly and we have to step back, think and make new decisions about the relationship. But when we are in a blame mode, we cannot step back and ask creative questions, such as: “Do I contribute to this problem in any way?” or “Just how do we cook up this situation together?”(see also Separation and Anger)
We sometimes get into a blame loop and immerse ourselves in thoughts such as “X does… X is thoughtless, stupid, mad” etc. The angry obsession with someone being bad can become self perpetuating. The same goes for self-blame: “I’m so stupid, mad, bad etc.” In fact, you or the other person may have got some things wrong but it is pointless to trap ourselves in a loop of blameful words or thoughts. We are giving the “bad” person power over us. It stops us looking at real explanations or solutions.
Blame frequently appears when we are triggered. Our triggers are a unique part of ourselves; they usually come from being reminded about previous bad experiences. This old pain is often unconscious so it’s easier to blame rather than thoughtfully search out its origins. Hence, when triggered, we may have huge angry energy for blaming our partners; any reflection about how our pain might be partly self-generated is lost.
With thanks to The Dance of Intimacy by H Lerner,
On Personal Power by Carl Rogers,
Mating in Captivity by E Perel,
Remaking Men by D Tacey.
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