This is one of those tough subjects to deal with in counseling. It is so common to want to point out other people’s faults, especially when we feel hurt and upset. But it rarely leads to any kind of positive outcome, even if we are right. Maybe especially when we are right. When we blame others it will undoubtedly create a defensive posture in the other person(s).
Often I hear someone who is in full blame mode say:
“But I am just expressing my feelings.”
No, not really. You may be feeling wronged, hurt, sad, scared, frustrated or a lot of other feelings, but when you blame someone your intention is to make the other person feel bad or admit that they are wrong and responsible for your feelings. That is not the same thing at all. Blaming is the acting out of your interpreted and processed feelings. It is a response, not a feeling.
When I make a statement like “She made me angry.” I am saying that someone else has power and control over me. Blaming feels like a way of taking back control of myself, but really it’s a verification that I am out of control.
I must admit that I can fail at this pretty easily when I am overwhelmed. It’s so much easier to blame someone than it is to do the work of trying to understand, empathize or forgive. Blaming will shut down a dialog and damage a relationship. If you are like me, the process takes place rapidly in my head. I take offense and I want the other person to know it. Even if I don’t let the words come out of my mouth, my attitude and demeanor transmitted by my body language can say everything that I am itching to announce verbally.
Two anchoring Bible verses for me have been:
James 1:19 “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
Matthew 12:36-37 (Jesus speaking) “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
I read that last verse and I think “I am sunk! I can’t even defend the words I let loose today, let alone every word ever.” But then I remember other verses:
Romans 5:9 “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”
Romans 8:1 “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
I am restored. Redeemed.
But the takeaway from those first two verses is two things: 1) The speed at which you do things matters and 2) You must take control over yourself. You are responsible for you and accountable to God.
There was an old commercial tag line that said “The pause that refreshes”. I think that can be applied very nicely in these situations. Taking a break will always give the rush of chemicals that assault our brain during a conflict time to settle down. The crazy leaves and the rational returns.
Make no mistake about it. There are no winners in the blame game – only losers.