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Busting yourself on the blame game

Busting yourself on the blame game

A long time ago a wise mentor told me that when you get angry it is almost always because of a perceived sense of injustice. This is a clue that you feel you’ve been unfairly treated and you might be right. But before you blame the other party or take action, it’s extremely important to search inside and figure out if the underlying truth is that you are really just angry with yourself. In fact, blaming others is our # 1 strategy for avoiding responsibility for our own actions. It is actually often a deflection of the anxiety we feel about our own errors coming back at us in the form of unpleasant consequences. Further, if we succumb to this temptation, we may delay the lesson and do it again, harming ourselves over and over in the same way.

In every interaction, there is what you say and do and what others say and do. You can’t control what others say or do, but you can make an assertive request to them about your requests or needs. This may result in change or it may not. You can’t control that, so don’t perseverate about it or you might end up creating your own chronic suffering.

What is truly magical is when explore what YOU can change inside yourself instead of indulging in blaming the other party in the interaction. I like to ask myself a series of questions to bust any potential deflection of responsibility I may be tempted to avoid. Self examination is how we learn from conflict and the most testy situations are ripe with our most important lessons:

  1. Check the Kickoff: Where did the situation begin? Who took the first action? Was I the first one to be unfair?
  2. Check the Trigger: What did I do or not do, to trigger the situation? How could what I did or didn’t do, have catalyzed emotional reactions in others?
  3. Check the Facts: Is what I am assuming factually true or is it arguable? Anything that is not factual, is probably distorted by emotion and the facts are where the truth lies.
  4. Check my Gut: What are my instincts trying to tell me? Often what is bothering us is buried in missing information that our gut knows, but our mind has not sorted out yet. What is it that needs to change inside me so I don’t end up here again? How did I potentially invite this situation?
  5. Check my Thoughts: What thoughts am I nurturing that don’t serve good respectful relationships? Here’s where I either postpone the next action so I can pause long enough to let my emotions subside and regain rational thinking. Only then will a productive resolution be possible.
  6. Check my Heart: How important is this relationship and are both of us truly capable of a healthy engagement? If yes, then I decide to make the effort to proceed assertively but respectfully so I am taking care of my right to what I need — as well as demonstrating a willingness to listen to what they need. In this case, it will be important to find out if there is a mutual desire to do the work required for a healthy ongoing relationship. Otherwise, things end badly and a trail of unacknowledged lessons will go unheeded.
  7. Check the Match/fit: This one is last, but may be most important. Many conflicts arise when something changes on one side of a relationship. Disagreements can arise because needs change in one party or another. If what I need or want is no longer a fit or match for the other party and conflict arises, then it’s not truly a conflict. It’s merely a fit problem. And time to move on. It’s not their fault when I am the one who changed the “deal” we had.

So, the short of it is that conflict is simply telling us what we need to learn or what has changed and it requires us to examine our motives and take responsibility for them. It is truly rare for one party to be completely right and the other completely wrong. 99% of conflicts contain some of both.

Strife is where our greatest lessons come.

The worse a conflict is, the more we will tend to remember it. No, they are not fun or easy. Often quite messy in fact. But when we desire to be a mature human being, we learn to manage conflict well. It is the most important skill we can learn for sustainable relationships and long term success. But we have to be willing to bust our own blame game tendencies to get the lesson and grow.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” -C.G. Jung

Pam Boney, Founder tilt365.com