Blame is a powerful tool many of us like to use as a way of hiding our own inadequacies and shortcomings. When we blame another person, it takes the focus off of us and places it on the other person for a while. When we blame others, we are also closing the door to self-reflection and growth.
We are taught at a young age by our parents and other role models to blame others. We learn to blame through being blamed, controlled, and manipulated. We may be told that it is our fault or told we are wrong when we are not. We may hear controlling and manipulative statements like these: “If you would just listen to me, you would not have to do this,” or “Do what I say so I don’t have to punish you,” or “You made me do it.”
While we all have experienced blame and/or blamed others at some time in our lives as a way of protecting ourselves, the use of blame today helps us remain emotionally stuck and keeps us from moving forward with our lives. Many of us have a long history of blame, which has served us well as a shield and as a way to hide the truth. Blame is pervasive in our society today to the point we hear it happening every day on Capitol Hill. The president is blaming Congress, the Democrats are blaming the Republicans and the Republicans are blaming the Democrats along with the President. With all this blame, no one is taking ownership of the problem and it seems that no clear, healthy solution is on the horizon.
When people take ownership rather than blame, the truth is able to come out, there is no need to blame, and ultimately everyone has the potential to win. When we take ownership of our true feelings and actions, there is no need to lie, so our relationships shift and become healthier and our environment becomes a safer place. In business, when a company is willing to explore solutions rather than find someone or something to blame, the synergy created helps build teamwork and creates an environment for positive growth.
When it comes to emotional recovery in a relationship, one of the greatest obstacles is blame. Typically each person is wanting to be heard on how the other person is the reason for all the problems in the relationship. While we want the other person to change so the relationship can be better, we can only create that change in ourselves. What this means is that if we truly want change in a relationship, we must stop blaming and explore what we contribute that allows the negative aspects of the relationship to continue. When we look at the way we respond in the relationship, we can create changes in ourselves that change how others respond to us.

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“You” – it can be dangerous

The word “You” is one many of us use every day in our relationships with others, yet this word alone can be very destructive. When we use the word “You,” most of the time we are blaming the other person for something. Or at least it feels like blame and makes that person defensive. This defensive posture is the catalyst for most arguments and tension in a relationship.

We have been taught to use the word “You” by not taking responsibility for our feelings and actions. Many of us learned at a young age that tension or problems in the family were our fault. As a child, we learned when we deflected blame, it created a release of tension by diverting the attention to someone else. While the word “You” may have served a positive purpose as a child, it creates much stress and destruction in relationships as an adult.

When we use the word “You,” it’s as if we are pointing our finger at the other person and saying, “It’s your fault.” This creates a defensive posture in the other person and then “You” starts to fly in both directions. This defensiveness created by the use of “You” gets both parties to start saying things they do not mean, things that are untrue and hurtful and that they will regret.

Many of us are used to this type of communication and disrespect. We may not like how we feel when the argument ensues, but we do it because this is the way we were taught to communicate, because it is familiar to us. Even though the current way of communicating hurts greatly, communicating in a different fashion can be scary enough that we don’t try to change.

It makes logical sense that if we are hurting ourselves and others, we need to do something different. If our logic were in control, our behaviors would quickly change to make the situation safer and more respectful. Yet feelings, rather than logic, drive these arguments. As long as we talk about the “he-said she-said facts,” no one is heard. In the argument, a portion of the issue may get temporarily resolved until the next argument triggers the underlying feelings again. This gives rise to the same argument and pain over again. Even when people are ready to change this “You” communication pattern, changing takes conscious effort.

When we talk from the “You,” we are communicating from a position of wanting to be heard. We explain all the facts and situations, hoping to be understood, with little or no success. The other person may have heard all the information and can repeat nearly every word, yet the message is not heard. To actually be heard requires the other person to be able and willing to listen rather than determine ways to respond to what is being shared. To listen means we do not have to defend ourselves or figure out ways to fix the problem, it means we just listen and only ask for clarification as needed, while interjecting nothing.

To create a situation where we can be heard requires us to get rid of the “You.” This can keep the other person from getting into a defensive posture. Rather than communicating from “You,” we communicate from “I” to help limit defensiveness. Taking it a step further, we talk about our feelings from the “I” position, since the energy that needs to be heard and worked through is our feelings.

Communicating from “I” takes time, practice and encouragement. When we are able to develop this new format of communicating, many things change in a positive fashion.