How to combat the blame game

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Our incessant habit of blaming — instead of being radically self-honest — is one of the main reasons people are finding it hard to flourish in today’s modern world

By Denis Liam Murphy

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Published: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 9:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 May 2023, 3:42 PM

Is combating anything the long-term approach if we want humans to evolve into a happy, healthy and peaceful species? Remember the fights you have had with family members, especially your children: how did you feel after? Did it leave you feeling like you accomplished something productive and ready for the next fight? The simple answer is: No. You might like the feeling that comes with being proved ‘right’, but what about the more common scenario when no conclusion is found?

Often the anger, shame and guilt lingers in the air for days, weeks or even years. Sometimes they never really leave. Often, it isn’t long before frustration and resentment fills the air again. You feel an argument is only minutes or hours away. You know what not to say or do, but you can’t seem to do anything about it. Before you know it, you are in another fight. When will it stop?

Like my clients, you probably do everything you can to reduce these combative moments. You learn to control your emotions and even walk on eggshells trying your best to not upset anyone. But again, it isn’t long before you are back in the all too familiar place. It begs the question: is control, avoidance and fighting the best long-term strategy for a peaceful and happy life? If we addressed the foundational reason we get stressed, mad, disappointed and resentful, then we wouldn’t need energy-intensive control or avoidance strategies at all.

I outline an alternative approach in my new book The Blame Game: How to Recover from the World’s Oldest Addiction.

Others reveal your honest emotional state

After years travelling all over the world doing all I could to heal myself, I was left with the same sadness, insecurities and anger that seemed to lead to more fights with the people I loved. It wasn’t until I unpacked blame, and healed from this addiction, that I finally experienced freedom and joy in my relationships, and life.

I became aware that anger, resentment, shame and guilt all had a foundation in blame. So, recovering from my blame addiction is where I needed to focus my energy. To achieve this, I had to get better at the skill of being self-honest.

When it comes to family dynamics, thinking others are the reason we are unhappy is the source of our stress and tension. But is it possible that others make us mad? Or do we make ourselves mad by how we perceive what they did or say?

We think they did something wrong and act accordingly. Of course, we also do the same with ourselves and place a lot of the fault (blame) on our shoulders that leads to even more stress.

However, when we take blame out of the equation altogether, there is a different way of looking at it. Maybe others are doing things that annoy us because this is how we honestly feel a lot of the time, not only in that moment. For example, have you had one of those long and stressful days at work, where you have managed to hold it together and not show your honest feelings of anger? By the time you get home, your child does or says something they think is harmless and innocent, and you respond in a way that seems like they did the worst thing in the world. It makes no sense why we would behave in this way.

But there is a very good reason why.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

A lot of the answers are found in the phrase “The straw that broke the camel’s back”. It suggests that we can cope with many things and control ourselves with navy seal ability at times. But we all have a threshold. And when that threshold is crossed, regardless of how small the catalyst, it tips us over the edge and our honest feelings burst out. Well, this is what is happening all over the world, all the time.

People don’t make us mad, they show us how mad we already are. They act as catalysts for us to access our honest emotional state. Why is this important? Because it is these emotional feelings that impact our perception and influence all our thoughts and decisions. Consistent blaming leads to a victim mentality. If we keep thinking we are the victim in our interactions then we will keep co-creating a life full of hardship, pain and suffering.

Our incessant habit of blaming — instead of being radically self-honest — is one of the main reasons people are finding it hard to flourish in today’s modern world. Mental and physical illness is on the increase. Divorce is becoming more common. Suicide rates are at an all-time high. Men have been taught to hide honest emotions; being strong and stoic is seen as a productive masculine trait.

Time to start the blame recovery process

What if instead of defaulting to blame we considered the bigger picture of what is going on. What if others were unconsciously behaving in a way to mirror back our honest emotions? All to help us realise that the fake positive attitude isn’t a long-term solution.

Being fake and lying to ourselves for long periods of time is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. This is the reason why you have little energy left in the tank to control your self-honesty that needs to come out at some point. When your partner makes a comment you perceive as offensive, rude or inappropriate, it could be that they said the same thing last week and you responded completely differently.

I can confidently say others behave in an unconscious way to reveal how we honestly feel. All so these emotions can be addressed and healed — rather than controlled and pushed under the rug.

It isn’t a fault in the human design, it is perfectly orchestrated. Holding onto unresolved emotions contributes largely to mental and physical illness. This has been known for thousands of years, and modern allopathic medicine is beginning to bring this wisdom into their practice.

If you have this awareness, you will realise the importance of healing is the foundational reason for all our stress and physical tension — our unknown blame addiction.

Denis Liam Murphy is co-founder of RoundTable Global and Beyond Bamboo, a high-performance coach and author of The Blame Game

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