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The Blame Game

It's not my fault so it must be yours!

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Ever wonder what a bunch of therapists talk about when they get together for lunch? Well, the usual stuff: whether to have a Greek or a Caesar salad, whether it's too early for a glass of wine, etc. But, being therapists, they soon launch into heavier things: our partners, our families (only we call it "family of origin" talk), how someone "triggered" us the other day, etc.

Recently, a group of us were talking, and one of us did something dumb, and immediately said, "It's not my fault!" We all laughed and said we know this disease well; it's called "Who Can I Blame?" I don't know if it's the current volatile (and puerile) political climate or we're all just scared and looking for a reason that makes sense why the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. But we all agreed that we all have been guilty of "Who Can I Blame?"That's when something bad happens and our knee-jerk response is to blame someone. It must be his/her/their fault! Anyone's fault but mine!

I see this in couples a lot. One person feels unloved or shut out or less than because of something "he did to me" or "she said to me." The hurt/angry/sad person blames the other. "I wouldn't feel this way if you hadn't done X." (I am guilty of it myself with my partner; I blame my father for passing on this tendency to me. I'm not sure who he blames.)

Here's the reality: Every action has a reaction - but we can choose our reaction. That's a hard one when our brain/limbic system is inflamed, but we can train ourselves to slow down, take a deep breath, take a break if we need to, and offer a more measured response to our partner. If someone says something hurtful, we need to ask for an apology. If someone does something hurtful again and again and doesn't care, we need to ask ourselves why we're staying in the relationship.

Here's another thought: No one is to blame; everyone is responsible.

That's true on a larger level: we all take part in the degradation of our planet, we are all responsible for war, famine, injustice, racism, poverty. And it's true between you and your mate: you are part of the pattern; you are part of the problem; you are also part of the solution. We are not to blame, but we are surely responsible.

If we blame others, we become angry victims. If we blame ourselves, we become filled with shame. If we take responsibility - no matter how small our part -- we become powerful people finding solutions.