"Look What You Made Me Do!" How to Avoid the Blame Game

Blaming is a common reaction. The blame game used to be one of my primary arsenals. Years ago, whenever I felt helpless or overwhelmed, I blamed the dog, my kids, or even the chair in the way when stubbing my toe. Anything in earshot received a rant of blame. "Look what you made me do!"

Hmm. Does anyone or anything really make us do anything?

So why do we blame? Think about it for a moment. An intense feeling boils up and out comes the biting remark. It's easy and takes the heat off of us. And what's the heat? Painful and uncomfortable feelings. Phew! The hurt stops temporarily. 

The blame game makes everyone lose

Blame Is Shame Turned Inside Out

What we're not doing is taking responsibility to look squarely in the eyes of life—our life. We're not facing whatever is happening at the moment; instead, we're avoiding. We're unwilling or unable to feel the discomfort and accept responsibility.

If we're blaming our husband for feeling lonely, it's time to take responsibility to make quality time together a priority. If we're blaming the kids for feeling stressed out, perhaps what's needed is a little self-care and some downtime. Every time we blame, we are not taking accountability for something. If blaming is a habit of yours, I feel for you. Been there, done that. It's never a good feeling. And the more we blame, the less we change. And the quality of our lives goes down, too.

Whenever you hear yourself say, even under your breath, "Look what you made me do," it's time to check in with what you're feeling. It's time for a self-awareness check-up because no one is to blame, not even you! Blame turned inside out is only shame covered over with pain. 

As John Welwood so aptly shares:

"At any moment, whatever we are experiencing, only one of two things is ever happening: either we are being with what is, or else we are resisting what is. Being with what is means letting ourselves have and feel our experience."

Accepting WHAT IS isn't as simple as it seems. Why? Because the emotions clashing, conflicting, and colliding within us aren't yet processed; they may be ricocheting off of old wounds. We may not have developed emotional restraint or modulation. We may not know what a healthier expression of feelings looks like. We may be unaware that we're even blaming.


Accept Feelings as a Roadmap in Your Life

Emotions are there to guide us to be our best self and reach our goals. When we suppress or block feelings, they intensify. The trouble is that lasting peace and happiness are only possible when we are willing to feel everything—without targeting someone else!

Ready for a deep dive into understanding your emotions? Try our free webinar "How to Use Your Emotions to Make Life-Transforming Change."

Playing the blame game creates more pain in relationshipsIt's human nature to take the easy way out.

Particularly when we're feeling threatened and jolted into the reptilian part of the brain, we want to escape the pressures and feel safe. Some have compared blaming others to throwing a hot potato, but it's more is like throwing a flaming boomerang. The energy we send out will only come back to us with greater velocity. We can never truly escape responsibility. We pay the price by suffering internally or by repeating painful interchanges in our relationships and lives.
 
A quote I love is from Gillian Duce:
“You do not blame your shadow for the shape of your body. Just the same: Do not blame others for the shape of your experience.”
 
We may want a slender and fit body. To achieve that goal, we must follow a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and prioritize a wholesome lifestyle. Action is more arduous than wishing for weight loss and a striking figure, or more people would reach that goal. Instead, obesity is an epidemic in our country. Blaming is like wishing; taking responsibility for the quality of your life is more difficult.

 

Steps to Turn Blame into the Power to Change

STEP 1: Pause.  Yes, pause and take in a few deep breaths. The first step of change is to disrupt the hair-trigger reaction and impulse to blame. Once you can prevent lashing out, you can then pause for two more seconds or two hours or two days. This space gives you the power to choose to respond instead of reacting.

STEP 2: Increase your awareness.  Get in touch with your feelings and what you're trying to avoid. At first, this may be in retrospect but gradually you will be able to have mindfulness in real time. When we deflect or project onto someone else, we deny ourselves a fabulous opportunity for self-awareness and growth. What did you want to happen or happen differently?

STEP 3: Get curious. What's fueling the blame?  Perhaps you blame your child when you tip over and accidentally break your favorite vase. You may have thought the day before, "I should put that vase in a safer place." You are angry that you didn't act. You're sad that the vase broke. You wanted to keep the vase safe, which was a precious gift from a close friend while visiting Spain.

Or maybe you blame your co-worker for missing an error on a full-page ad that got printed incorrectly when YOU were the one to submit the content wrong. You might be embarrassed by the mistake; you are upset that your high standard of excellence was compromised. You desire to uphold the exemplary track record of your marketing department and company.

Whatever we're wanting is legitimate but blaming doesn't make it different nor can it.

STEP 4: Accept that you are human.  Accidents happen. Mistakes are overlooked. Objects break and we lose our cool. When blame is a part of your arsenal, like it was mine, self-compassion is one of the most vital tools to help eliminate blame. Take the judgment off of yourself, lean into vulnerability (yes, it might feel uncomfortable, even scary) while taking responsibility for what may go awry or not according to plans.

STEP 5: Brainstorm and rehearse new ways of responding.  One of the primary reasons for blaming is that our values are at risk. Build strategies and habits into your life to ensure that you can live according to what's most important to you.

Blaming others may make us feel better temporarily, but it also disempowers us. If you want to reach for your full potential, stop accusing others, and start accepting responsibility for the quality of your life and relationships. Do your part to create a life you love!

And if you've tried and tried without success, maybe it's time to get some support. Heartmanity's programs have a proven track record to create transformation and permanent change! Try us and see if we're a fit for you. Sign up for our free Discovery Session that has no obligation.

Sign me up!

Like the article? Help us spread the word and share it!

Jennifer A. Williams / Emotional Fitness TrainerJennifer A. Williams / Emotional Fitness Trainer
Jennifer’s passion is to help people create thriving relationships first with themselves, and then with each other. She teaches emotional intelligence skills and a proven step-by-step process that removes the obstacles to growth, loving connection, and communication. Her popular One Year Makeover and Return to Serenity programs provide a personalized approach to transformation. Her understanding of brain science strategically reshapes a person’s pain into power while restoring inner peace and well-being through a fun and remarkable learning experience. Jennifer is happily married to her beloved husband of 39 years and is the mother of three grown children.

Posted in Communication & Interpersonal Skills, Emotional Intelligence