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 to be treated 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. 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 repairs the hurt in a way that nothing else does.
The Origins of Blame
Some of us were taught as children to blame. If no one ever apologized in your home, how could you learn its value? When conflict becomes a blame game, you avoid anything that could be seen as confrontational. Admitting fault often triggers abuse or being shamed in dysfunctional families.
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 happiness depends on others, a cycle of codependent people pleasing and poor boundaries develops.
How Blame Creates Unhealthy Communication
Blame causes the other person to feel attacked. It starts with a “you message” that makes the other person wrong. This one word invites a cycle of defensiveness that’s hard to stop. Leading the conversation with YOU is a sure fire way to get a negative reaction fast!
That’s because a lack of accountability hurts and causes separation. By not owning your behavior, your partner feels devalued - like they’re at fault. Continuous blaming makes the other person question their reality and that damages self-esteem. This is how most relationships start to fall apart.
How to Take Your Power Back
Taking responsibility for your actions stops the cycle of blame. This doesn't make you a doormat, it makes you a healthy, accountable partner. It is the people who take responsibility for their behavior that have the ability to create healthy, happy relationships.
Giving up blame takes addressing old beliefs that keep you stuck. Finding fault in the other person or being right creates a win/lose scenario. Resolution happens when we seek to understand each other, not to dominate or passively agree with the other person.
Here are some helpful tips for minimizing blame.
Challenge old beliefs that reinforce a win/lose strategy.
Remember, showing accountability sets a positive example for kids.
Check your thoughts; are they 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.
By avoiding blame you are inviting others to do the same.
By setting the example, others may follow - especially if you keep the focus on changing yourself. No one likes to be told what to do so by setting the example, you change the pattern. It’s much harder to blame when you’re the only one doing it!
When the blaming stops, communication improves because others are more likely to listen when they aren’t being tagged as the problem. Be the person who brings these changes and your relationships will reap the rewards!
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