Getting blamed for everything is not a good feeling. The onset of confusion along with a sunken heavy heart, leading to clenched teeth, closed fists, tensed shoulders resulting in a combination of irritation and anger that blame brings on is such a well-known feeling to me. What may happen afterward are attempts to defend, explain and clear my name, but if this blame game has been happening for so long, chances are, I’ll choose to remain silent to self-preserve.
Why do people blame us?
It’s a simple one-line answer. They do it to protect their egos.
I experience this often as a child in my house, and I still see it even though I moved out of my parent’s place decades ago. For example, my mother would get upset when no one is readily available to take her places on certain days. Rather than admitting to the lack of will that she has to drive herself, a task that she’s able to do, she lays blame and guilt on my brothers and me for not being readily available when she needed us.
My unemployed father would often blame having kids for his financial shortcomings. However, he can justify spending a few hundreds of dollars on a lottery ticket habit every month in hopes that it’ll fix his financial burden. Rather than looking at other sources of income and seizing opportunities when they did arise, he chose to be complacent and didn’t want to tackle his inadequacies to put in the extra hard work. When financial situations would get tough, he would blame his kids or my mother for holding him back from the things he wanted to do to succeed in life. Realistically, he’s unable to own the choices that he’s made for himself as he’s put the fault on other people. Even if my mother did try to hold him back, he chose to listen to her.
I find that the blame game is an often reoccurrence within Asian parents’ mentality – where the parents are quick to faults their kids without checking their ego at the door.
Either way, here’s the psyche behind the actions and reactions to why people tend to blame other people.
In the blamer’s eyes, we must remain the bad ones, and we need to see what the blamer sees. However, if we pay attention, we will realize that we have been assigned a role in their internal dialogue – a dialogue that is all about them and not us.
It is a natural tendency for humans to ask, “what is causing me to feel this way?!” rather than finding the reason for the reaction – “why am I feeling this way?!”
This means that within a blamer’s ego-driven mind, they are geared and focused towards the easier narrative of “what caused me to feel this way” and no longer feel the need to flip the script on themselves to view the bigger picture and see the entire context of the situation. If they did, they would be able to acknowledge that they have a contributing factor within the situation as well.
A big driving force and what gives the blamer their power is the sense of conformity between the emotions the blamer feels and the collective society. The blamer justifies themselves by thinking, “everyone else would feel this way” or “this is the norm” this belief empowers the blamer’s ego to be further selfish and continue blaming others for their mistakes, mishaps, or feelings. This also gives them a great defense mechanism.
Using this justification and driven by their ego, they defend their stance and remove their inhibitions to justify their poor behaviors. However, inhibitions are the brain’s moral compass, and it’s there to prevent us from behaving poorly towards another person. By removing it, blamers are providing themselves with an excuse to act in a hurtful manner. This becomes even more dangerous as it allows them to attack the other person, especially when there may be a grudge or feel entitled to the emotions they’re exhibiting. This reaction sometimes can be unconscious, but the temptation to attack is there, nonetheless.
Shifting the blame onto someone else allows the blamer to avoid the need to self-reflect on their behaviors and deep dive into their psyche. The blamer remains blissfully unaware of their shortcomings and shadow self and gets to maintain their ego.
Unfortunately for the blamer, because their ego blinds them, they don’t realize that no matter how much people may love them, there’s only a certain amount of times that most people will tolerate taking the blame for something that’s genuinely not their fault. The long-term effect of being unable to take responsibility will cause a serious diminishing in the blamer’s ability to maintain relationships with others.
What to do when you feel stuck with a chronic blamer?
First, you examine your behavior. Is there any validity to the blame? What was your intention in the situation, and is there any truth to what the blamer is telling you about yourselves? If there is validity, have the humility and courage to admit and accept this shortcoming, then have self-compassion and understand that we are all works in progress. This process takes awareness, strength, and tremendous honesty to investigate your own behavior within the entire context within the situation.
However, when you’re faced with a chronic blamer, you need to acknowledge your truth and be clear to yourself about who you are. It is of utmost importance for you to have unwavering confidence within yourself because, without distortion, you can separate yourself from the blame.
These self-examinations are important to draw healthy boundaries. You need to be irrefutably clear on who you are within your inner dialogue where no one else can persuade you to believe otherwise. You need to live outside of their story of you because only you know yourself best. By doing this, rather than letting the blame hurt you, the blame now becomes a facilitator to direct the energy away from their story and towards your inarguable truth. In doing so, you’ve flipped the script on how you’re going to receive their blame.
Understand that just because someone you love is blaming you for something, this does not mean that you are those things. You need to draw a distinct understanding and acceptance of the blamer not knowing you or seeing you correctly – without having to become the objective of the blame. There is no need to convince them of your innocence. You don’t need acceptance or approval for you to be unquestionably who you are.
When you operate within this powerful force of knowing who you are, you will begin to shift your mindset in how you reply to their allegations, and no longer will you be reactive to it. You’ll be responding with conviction in a calm self-reassuring state. Their projections of you will no longer be able to penetrate your boundaries. While you can’t control the other blamer’s ability to listen, their thoughts, and how much they are willing to invest in getting to know you – you can control how much energy you are willing to put into this relationship.
As much as it’s human nature to blame others for the causes of shortcomings, it’s also human nature to want to feel seen by the people we love. Unfortunately, the latter is out of our control, but we are in control of how we see ourselves and our inner narratives because what you tell yourself every day will either lift you up or tear you down, and you cannot live a positive life within a negative mind.
We are often taught to defend ourselves and look for justice when we’re hurt. When kids are acting in a hurtful way, they’re often asked to apologize to the other person, rightfully so. However, we’re never taught that there’s a learning opportunity here for the victim, which is to deep dive within themselves, understand why they’re hurt, heal their insecurities, and learn about themselves to build character and confidence. I wish society wasn’t so scared of pain and facing uncomfortable emotions because the truth is, if we don’t care, we don’t hurt – that’s ultimate confidence.
Here are a few questions to contemplate when dealing with a chronic blamer:
Is there any validity to what they are claiming of me?
What is my intention within the blame I’m being accused of?
Have I expressed my truth to this person?
Do I want to remain in a relationship with someone who sees me in a way that is out of alignment with how I see myself? If so, how do I best maintain this relationship, and why do I want to?
Can I allow them to believe what they want to believe about me without taking it on as my own, losing myself in it, and becoming their objective?
Can I honor myself and my truth while I’m in this relationship and come to peace with the gap between what their story is of me and who I really am?