How To Stop Blaming & Start Healing Relationships
"If only other people would change or get their act together, my life would be great" is something I hear a lot in my practice. Whether it's wanting your partner to stop drinking or for someone to treat you better, it's easy to fall into blame. Thinking that others need to change for you to be happy means that they carry your solution.
Blaming others for your unhappiness gives them all the power. We aren't taught how to be accountable but instead how to avoid it. In relationships, blaming binds us together in a negative way, like gossip. You don't have to look at what you said or did. You get to be right.
No one wants to admit fault. Saying I'm sorry is often seen as looking bad or weak. In relationships, this lack of accountability causes most arguments. When the one person avoids taking responsibility for what they've done (or not done) the fight begins.
Accountability is the most powerful tool you have in relationships because it heals the hurt in a way that nothing else does.
How does blaming start?
Some of us were taught as children to blame. If no one ever apologized in your home, how could anything get resolved? When conflict becomes a blame game, you learn to avoid anything that could be seen as confrontational.
As a result, you learned to be quiet or tell a joke to lighten the mood. Feelings get stuffed because you weren't taught what to do with them. Resolving problems becomes a total mystery since you never saw it happen.
You may secretly resent or blame others for your struggles. When your happiness depends on others, that is the start of codependency.
How blame creates unhealthy communication
Blame causes the other person to feel attacked. This invites a cycle of defensiveness that is hard to stop.
A lack of accountability causes hurt and separation. By not owning your behavior, your partner doesn't feel heard. Continuous blaming makes the other person question their reality and that destroys their self-esteem. This is how most relationships start to fail.
How to take your power back
Taking responsibility for your actions gives relationships a chance to heal. This doesn't mean you are a doormat. It means that you are willing to look at yourself and not shy away from your mistakes.
It is the people who take responsibility for their behavior that have the most courage.
To do this, old beliefs must be assessed. Instead of wanting to find fault or be right, focus on communicating what you need.
Here are some tips to keep the focus on you.
- Challenge old beliefs that no longer serve you.
- Use accountability to sets a positive example for kids.
- Are your thoughts negative, critical or focused on being right?
- Are you expecting someone to be different than who they really are?
- Express yourself clearly by using I statements to avoid blame.
- Acknowledge how you've contributed to the problem.
- Acknowledging specific behavior always heals more than "I'm sorry."
- By avoiding blame you are inviting others to do the same.
Being accountable builds integrity. Everyone makes mistakes but it is the rare few that are willing to own them. Be that person and you'll be so glad you did!
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