Why Blame is Toxic

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By Jami Keller

After twenty years of working with families to keep them together and loving each other, we have nearly become immune to the blame that is tossed around a room. It’s easy to blame when you feel hurt, wronged, or (especially) angry.  It is so common it has become part of our culture. 

There is one rule when it comes to relationships. You can be right or you can be in relationship. Which is more important to you? This can be difficult because often we just want to have the other person recognize the hurt they may have caused us and are willing to do much in order to justify our case. 

We forget that we tend to have a huge bias towards ourselves and that even our well intentioned actions can be painful for others. 

Another thing that people forget is that if you were that other person, you would do just what they did. Really! If you were someone else you would have all their issues. So you would do what they do. What’s interesting is that we causally say “If I were (person in question) I would have done ______.” The thing is, we wouldn’t. Because we would be them and we would do exactly what they are doing.

The Native American Proverb is a tough one, “Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” 

When we can step back and feel the feelings, without blame, we can begin to see more options. Feelings are just feelings and trying to work out strong feelings like anger and frustration in the moment, with the person who may be the source of these feelings, is a bad idea. 

Pressure and stress constrict our brain power like revving a care in neutral, you use plenty of gas but your not getting anywhere

Realizing that you are responsible for your own feelings and not other peoples is an easy concept to understand and a difficult one to practice. And the self-bias is another kicker. Back to walking in moccasins. We have an innate difficulty in empathy because we tend to give ourselves credit where we tend to put blame on others

So we tend to be viewing life through a paper towel cardboard center (or maybe, more appropriately, a toilet paper one). In order to open up this view and see the entire horizon we have to stop the blame. This comes back to forgivingness. Only in forgiving the hurt that may have been caused by the other person can be begin to see the facts (+ love). The facts + love = the real truth. And the truth will lead us to setting better and healthier boundaries. 

Healthy boundaries are difficult and require nearly constant maintenance, which is generally why most people lack good boundaries. For me, this took several years. It doesn’t have to take this long, but I was really invested in denying the fact that only I was responsible for my own feelings. I wasn’t consciously blaming anyone else, instead I was just really invested in not being responsible for anything that might be negative.

It turns out that the most negative emotions we have experienced again and again happen because our subconscious is trying to figure out how to resolve that first conflict (which that may not have even been our own conflict). 

So we do things to poke other people. Back again to walking in another persons moccasins. Taking that step back and asking “If I take all blame out of this situation, what would be different?” 

This allows us to start a new process where we do not have to be right because we value the relationship more than our own self protection. 

At Passion Provokers, we often say “you can be right or you can be in relationship.” The question really is: which is more important to you? 

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