“As long as you are blaming others, you are just a child to me. Regardless of your age, you are only a child. Children blame, Grown-ups take responsibility. “
Dr Edith Eger
This isn’t an easy topic for anyone. It is never easy when we need to take responsibility, when we need to step out of the hiding from behind the ‘blame game’. Yes, it is challenging. However, if we decide to break the old pattern and look at blame through different glasses we might be surprised what we discover.
Us vs Them
How often we hear: It is your fault! I did this because of you. When we blame we divide. We create two groups and place them opposite to each other with pointing fingers to the other side. We create Us and Them. What do we achieve with this? We alienate others from us, and we create separation. When we are in separation we don’t have the capacity to look for the solution from the win-win perspective. There are plenty of examples of refusing responsibility in the world. Can you think of any?
We don’t see that by blaming we block our own path to healing. We are making it harder for us to move forward in a healthy way. It is easy to point fingers at the other person (or group for that matter) and say: This is your fault! You are this and that…
I love how Robin Sharma described this in his book The Saint, the Surfer and the CEO, when we point our index finger at someone (to blame):
‘…for every finger we point at another, we have three pointing back at us….
‘…Stop blaming others for everything you dislike about your life. Look in the mirror and regain some accountability over your life. That’s how personal change and life leadership begins.’
Instead of refusing your responsibility I invite you to see yourself as a participant. We live in the same ecosystem, we are interconnected with everything and everyone around us. We are part of the whole and the whole is part of us.
In an ancient Hawaiin practice (Ho’oponopono) they believe that when something happens we all need to take our responsibility as participants in that event and not condemn others. Instead of pointing fingers and looking for a scapegoat, we should start looking at and enquiry what might be our part in the occurrence. What is MY PART in this? How am I contributing to this issue? All this while leave the self-blame aside!
Taking responsibility is hard, but while we blame we can’t heal. Where there is healing to do, there must be pain. Where there is pain, there is grief.
I came across a very interesting link between blame and grief while getting familiar with Sarah Peyton’s work (who is a neuroscience educator). According to her work blame is our brain’s self-defence mechanism, when it is facing a loss. It is easier for the brain to go into blame rather than connect with the emotion of loss. The emotion itself is too overwhelming. This wonderfully goes hand in hand with what Dr Edith Eger (a renounced therapist) says in her book The Choice:
‘The biggest tragedy in life is not what we lost, but the tragedy of not having what we could have had.’
So true. I resonate with this statement on so many levels. I am sure you can also find examples of this in your life.
Enquire not require
When we are separate from others and ourselves it is hard to find the right solution. We jump into conclusions based on what seems to be the truth on the surface level, and we don’t try to look at what is going on on a deeper level. Instead of talking harshly to ourselves (and others), and shushing that inner voice, we need to turn towards it with compassion. Enquire about the grief, the pain this voice is trying to conceal in order for you to cope.
1. Be aware
First and foremost, we need to be aware. As Dr Joe Dispenza put it ‘if you recognise the program, you aren’t the program any more. You are able to create a new program.’ We can teach our brain new things, thanks to neuroplasticity, we can learn new things whether we are 10 or 100. The choice is ours.
2. Name it
Identify the feeling you are trying to cover up with blame.
What is this grief about? Is it sadness? Is it disgust? Is it anger? You wouldn’t believe it but scientists have proven that, if you identify the feeling that is causing you suffering, it actually helps you to feel better. Your body doesn’t have to hold on to it. There is something wonderful and liberating calling things by name. When you are angry, say it. When you feel disappointed, say it. And notice what’s happening in your body. When you name the right feeling, a slight sensation of relief might rush through your body, accompanied by a sigh. If you can’t put it into one word, describe it: it feels like a heavy stone on my chest…. Be creative with your descriptions.
3. Notice the change
When you have identified the feeling, notice what is happening in your body. Does it feel tense? Have your muscles softened? When we hit the ‘bull’s eye, our body reacts to it. It isn’t in the flight or fight state anymore. It is calmer.
4. Express the need
See whether you can identify now, what was it that caused you to be in pain. What need of yours wasn’t met? Was it your need to be acknowledged? Or maybe I felt frustrated and blamed my partner. When all it was about, was me being worried about the outcome of the project I’ve been working on.
Practise this approach with your inner critic as well. What is behind that nasty tone I am talking to myself?
This approach is not to justify others negligence and misbehaviour. Those still have consequences that need to be faced. However, this helps you to be more in charge of your own reaction, and more aware of your hidden programs (deep emotions).
It isn’t an easy cycle to break, but it is possible. We all know what it feels like to be blamed, and also what it is to blame. Practice compassion. It might take a little bit longer, but it will be worth it.
Written by Petra Juhászová
Date: February 2021