Larry James' BLOG

Friday, August 13, 2010

Me? Make a Mistake? Never!

Filed under: Relationships — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Oh, really?

It’s not my fault. She did this to me. He did that to me! It wasn’t me!

Are you a blamer? Are you in a relationship where there’s a lot of blaming? If so, you’re not alone. It’s so easy to get caught up in the he-said, she-said drama when you’re in a relationship. We all have our faults – everyone makes mistakes – but sometimes it’s easier pointing fingers at your partner than it is trying to find a solution.

The “blame game” is a deadly game to play in relationships. When habitually played, I define this stupid game as a mental health issue. It’s a form of verbal abuse. Blame is a defense mechanism. Remember that people abuse you because there is something wrong with them. You may not have done or said anything wrong – usually the problem lies with them.

angrycoupleThe rules are simple, if you get accused of doing, or not doing something, you need to deflect the situation by pushing the blame onto someone else. The beauty of always blaming others is we blame everything bad that happens on someone else. That way we stay perfect because it’s never our own fault.

The game almost always has a sad ending, with the winner more often than not, isolated, and suffering from a severe case of denial. It can destroy a beautiful relationship. It creates resentment, frustration and anger between both partners. It causes more problems than it solves. The most destructive consequence from blaming is that it leaves you thinking, feeling, and acting like a victim.

We play the blame game because of two main reasons:

• It’s a lot easier to say that someone else is responsible for making us unhappy.

• It can be very scary to admit that we need to change something about ourselves, or the way we do things, so that we stop damaging our chances of happiness.

More typical ways people play the blame game shows up in things like name calling, tone of voice, eye rolling, exiting the room, resentment filled sighs, etc. You can even blame without saying anything. You know when you do that you’ve blamed your lover for something. Everything usually goes downhill from there.

Blaming your partner never works in the long run. No one wins! Blaming also is unhealthy for your own emotional well-being. Couples who engage in a cycle of “attack and defend” tend to struggle in their relationships. It’s a vicious cycle that only serves to create resentment and distance between two people. If you are stuck in this crazy game, perhaps you should ask yourself, “Is my relationship giving me more pain than pleasure?” If so, it’s time to do something different.

It’s a fact: “You cannot fix a problem that you can’t admit that you have!”

Everyone makes mistakes. The truth be told. . . the list is probably long. Volumes in fact.

mistakesWhy is it so difficult for people to accept the fact that they may have a part in being at fault in a situation that has an unfortunate outcome?

“We avoid accepting culpability for many reasons, among them, feeling stupid because we made the mistake, fearing the consequences of our behavior, and a deep-seated feeling of shame that can result in a very painful self-image. The paradox is that often we are more forgiving of the errors of others than those we make ourselves. ~ Ruth Gordon, LCSW

Research shows that people who blame others for their mistakes lose status, learn less, and perform worse relative to those who own up to their mistakes. The temptation is huge to point the finger elsewhere when you make a mistake. Resist it with all your might. Take ownership for your failures both big and small.

Just. . . “Stop it!” Don’t do that anymore! Give up having to be right all the time. Let it go! Read: “You Wanna Be Right. . . or Happy?

Analyzing the mistakes on your part is the first step to finding a solution. Understand how you contributed to the problem. Look carefully at your behavior. Be honest with yourself. If you find yourself blaming your lover because he or she has gotten into the habit of taking you for granted, perhaps even being downright rude and mean, you can grow from the experience (you really can!) by exploring what in you has allowed yourself to be treated badly.

Remember, problems in a relationship are never only one person’s fault. They are shared problems. Criticizing and complaining is not going to effect any change. To reverse the consequences of a blaming environment, you must look at “your” contribution to the situation. You cannot be in a situation and not contribute something to it – by words, actions, lack of words or actions, or attitude. When you take the courageous step of recognizing and owning the part YOU play, then you have the power to change the situation. Not before.

The next time you get into a tiff with your partner and blame shows up, do something different. Pause and reflect upon what, if even the slightest, role you might play in the disagreement. Admit your share of the tiff. Consider saying something like, “You know what? I think might have rolled my eyes at you and that wasn’t very nice. I apologize for that. I will do my best to not have that happen again.” At least that’s a good start.

The only way out of playing the Blame Game, is to change your thinking and start taking responsibility for your actions, accept your past and learn to forgive others. Read, “Forgiveness. . . What’s it For?” Forgiveness is another step in the right direction.

You might not be able to change the way your partner behaves but you can decide to live a happier life by relating to them differently or even to end a relationship with a chronically toxic partner. If you are serious about saving your marriage or relationship or are working together to stop a divorce, then a very important first step is to stop playing the blame game. If you want a relationship that offers joy, satisfaction, love and romance, you must change or change the relationship. Learn to treat each other with expressions of loving kindness, compassion, empathy, and – most of all – respect.

Change doesn’t come overnight. Psychologists say it takes 20 to 30 days to for a new habit. Be patient with yourself, but persistent. Keep practicing. Do it even if you don’t want to. How else are you going to break this vicious cycle. Owning your own stuff and taking effective actions are skills that you build. The more you do it, the better you will become at doing it. If your relationship needs a “tune-up,” call a relationship coach!


Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.

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1 Comment »

  1. September 21, 2010

    Dearest Larry,

    It is a pleasure to have found your Blog. I see that we may have kindred Spirits, in the sense of the appreciation that life, love and spirit is to be ‘Celebrated’.

    My name is Catherine Anne Clark, and I am the Founder of A Celebration of Women. It would be my honor and plearure to collaborate with your good self, and perhaps cross post.

    I have ‘borrrowed’ your photo, Chilvarykissing, for one of my own posts for our column, WOMEN in RECOVERY… in a feature we have named ‘Romance As A New Self’.

    I will attach the LINK to this post; and look forward to hearing a reply from your good self.


    Catherine Anne Clark
    A Celebration of Women
    Founder & CEO

    Comment by A Celebration of Women — Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 7:41 am | Reply

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