The concept of internalising and externalising blame can be useful in understanding the complexities of a relationship. If you primarily direct your feelings inwardly and blame yourself you may struggle with ongoing anxiety and depression. If you typically blame others you will drive people away. Women, in particular are more likely to self-blame whereas men are more likely to other-blame. Say, for instance, a couple returns from work to find that the front door had been left unlocked all day. Who do you think would put their hand over mouth and say worriedly, “Did I do that?” Who is more likely to respond with “Who forgot to lock the door?” while looking at their partner questionably.
In abusive relationships abusers typically externalise blame. They self-righteously claim that their partner is the cause of all problems and then feel vindicated even when engaged in aggression against others. To lower your tendency to readily assume self-blame and to raise your self-esteem ask yourself; “Did I in any way contribute to the problem?” You may then decide that all of it, none of it, or just a part of it was your fault and only then do you assume responsibility. Otherwise free yourself from self-blame and direct it back to the person it belongs to. If it is not a safe time to place blame where it belongs then just knowing you are not responsible or only partly responsible can be liberating.
If you are a blamer and you want to have a more loving and respectful relationship practice resist the blame game by allowing yourself a second thought. Stop and think before you say anything. This takes practice but it is well worth the effort. Developing the capacity to reflect on what happened instead of immediately or mindlessly blaming self or other will help you to navigate through confusing situations. It is a discrimination strategy we all need to develop.
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