Growing up, most of us had numerous experiences of being blamed. I was frequently blamed for things that I was too young to understand, or for things that I didn’t do ‘right’, or for things that, to me, didn’t seem worthy of blame.
Being blamed feels awful, and I learned to feel guilty even when I hadn’t actually done anything wrong. Looking back, I now understand that blaming and judging myself, which caused me to feel guilty, felt better and more empowering than feeling the depth of helplessness over being so unseen, unheard and misunderstood.
Today, I work with many clients who are very reactive to being blamed. They often get angry or defensive, rather than feeling the helplessness and heartbreak of being unseen, unheard and misunderstood. Of course, this creates problems in relationships, since their partner then also feels unseen and unheard at the other end of the anger and defensiveness.
Blame vs. Responsibility
One of the underlying issues is that there is often confusion between responsibility and blame.
What would happen in conflicts if partners and families accepted that everyone is responsible for their own behavior and choices, but that no one is actually to blame? What if we each chose to open to learning about our own responsibility in any conflict situation, without blaming ourselves or each other?
Loving yourself when being blamed means that you stop blaming yourself – stop judging yourself – and open to compassion for the pain of not being seen and understood. If you stop blaming and judging yourself, then you have a better chance of staying open to taking responsibility for your own choices. It’s so much easier to not get angry and defensive when you can accept responsibility without blaming. Loving yourself means remembering that everyone is responsible but no one is to blame.
Remembering this is also what creates relationship and family healing.
Of course, none of us has control over whether or not anyone else lets go of blame and accepts responsibility. But even if it’s just you, you can affect a change in your relationships. Just imagine how much easier it would be to stay compassionate with yourself and open to learning, during conflict, if you weren’t reactive to being blamed, because you were no longer getting triggered into anger or defensiveness.
Since I’ve let go of the whole concept of blame, I find it easy to accept responsibility. For me, taking responsibility goes along with learning about myself and about what choices have been loving to myself and others, and which haven’t. When blame is out of the picture, it’s easy for my love of learning to take over. I love the excitement of learning new things about myself and new things about what’s loving!
You will find that when others blame you, it will still hurt your heart – because others’ unloving behavior always hurts our heart when we are fully open to our feelings – but it’s easier to not take the blame personally when you are no longer judging yourself. It becomes less difficult as you practice either opening to learning with the other person, or lovingly disengaging when someone is blaming you, and being very compassionate with your heartache over others’ unloving behavior.
The challenge is that the wounded self loves to blame. Blaming makes our ego wounded self feel superior and in control, but it’s also the wounded self that is self-blaming and feels inferior. When you embrace the understanding that everyone is responsible but no one is to blame, you take the power away from your wounded self and put your loving adult in charge.
I hope you embrace the responsibility and let go of the blame. You will find yourself feeling truly empowered when you are able to do this.