The Blame Game

Angry Couple Blame Each Other

I’m willing to guess that almost anyone who has been in a relationship knows what the blame game is. Many of us fall into the blaming cycle where one person may blame the other and then either the other person responds with throwing blame back, shutting down or getting defensive. As you know, this is not productive in a conversation and it prevents us from really hearing each other and being able to come to an understanding or a compromise.

Brene Brown is a well-known researcher in the subjects of vulnerability, connection and empathy. She has a great, short video on youTube where she relates a witty story about when she got caught in the blame game and then discusses the research on blame. The research shows that fundamentally, blame is a way to let out anger or discomfort. The problem with this is that blaming starts a chain reaction. When we blame, we are not expressing our true emotions (hurt, pain, disappointment, etc) and we won’t be able to give or receive empathy. When we don’t show vulnerable emotions and don’t give or receive empathy, we won’t be able to emotionally connect with the other person. As a result, the interaction will be frustrating and unproductive. Brene Brown states that, “Blaming is very corrosive to relationships and it’s one of the reasons we miss our opportunity for empathy.”

After watching this video, I realized I have a lot to work on. I know I fall into the trap myself too often. So what can we do instead of blaming? We can take accountability rather than blaming. We express our vulnerable emotions instead of anger and ask for understanding and empathy. So, on Thursday when I have four pots of Thanksgiving food cooking at once and one overflows or burns, instead of blaming my husband for distracting me, I’m going to take a deep breath and take accountability for the fact that I tried to take on too much at once.  Here’s to a blame-free holiday season!

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