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S2 EP178 – Why do you Blame?

Episode Summary

Do you find yourself automatically blaming yourself or others? Are you aware of the problems that blaming anger is causing you and your relationships? Find out what is behind the need to blame and what you can do about it in this podcast. 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I’m addressing the issue of blame – both toward yourself and toward others.

Why do we blame ourselves and others? What is the payoff?

I had a session with Frank who was very upset with himself for playing tennis so badly in his recent match. In fact, he was furious with himself. “I’m a much better player that that! How could I have played so badly! I’m just an adequate jerk!” He had been screaming at himself in the car and feeling worse and worse by the minute.

As we explored his anger and self-blame, Frank told me that his father, a very controlling man, was constantly angry with him for his mistakes.

“How did his anger affect you regarding making mistakes?” I asked.

“It made me nervous, and I probably made more mistakes,” he said.

“Frank, open to learning with the angry and blaming wounded part of you and ask why he persists in getting angry and blaming toward your inner child.”

“This part of me believes that if I get upset enough, I won’t keep doing things wrong.”

“So,” I said, “this wounded part of you, the part that is very much like your father, believes you can have control over getting yourself to do it right. Has this worked?”

“No, not at all – just like with my father. And I know that, so why do I keep doing it?” he asked.

“What about it do you like?” I asked him.

“Well,” he answered, “I really like the feeling I get when I’m angry and blaming. In that moment, I feel powerful.”

“So it sounds like you are addicted to the momentary feeling of power you get when you are angry. What do you think you would feel if you didn’t get angry?” I asked.

“I guess I would feel helpless, and I hate feeling helpless,” he said after a moment of thought.

“So the payoff is that, even though you know it doesn’t work to control yourself from making mistakes, it does work to take away the feeling of helplessness, and this seems to make it worth it to you. You can’t control the mistakes, but you can control the feeling of helplessness, so on that level, the control is working for you, is that right?” I asked.

“That’s right! I guess I am addicted to the feeling of power. I like that feeling,” he said.

“And it gets you out of having to take responsibility for managing your feelings as a loving adult. You’d rather feel the momentary sense of power and then the guilt at doing something wrong, than deal with the feeling of helplessness. So, until you are willing to feel the authentic feeling of helplessness over having control over doing things right and do the work of Inner Bonding to learn to show up as a loving adult for this difficult feeling, you will keep getting angry at yourself. If you want to stop the self-blame, you will need to develop your loving adult through the practice of Inner Bonding.”

Since the wounded self is all about control, it makes sense that it gets addicted to the feeling of power when using blaming anger as a form of control, both with oneself and with others.

My client Kim was struggling with her frequent anger and irritation at others. She didn’t like the fact that she often got angry and blaming, but she couldn’t seem to stop.

“Kim, what triggers your anger? What happens between you and another person that triggers your anger?”

“Well, I’m not sure,” she said. “It seems to happen when someone criticizes me, but it also happens when someone withdraws from me. Sometimes it happens when someone tells me what to do.”

“So,” I asked, “what do you think you are feeling under the anger when someone criticizes you or withdraws from you?”

“I feel rejected,” she said without hesitation.

“When someone is judgmental toward you or disconnects from you, do you think you might also feel lonely?” I asked.

“Lonely – yeah, that’s the feeling,” she said. “I feel so lonely when someone doesn’t accept me or shuts me out. I think I also feel lonely when someone tells me what to do, because they are not seeing me or caring about what I want. They just want me to do what they want, and I hate being controlled. My mother was so controlling, just wanting what she wanted and not seeing me at all or caring about what I wanted.”

“Loneliness is a very hard feeling to feel,” I said. “So is helplessness over others’ behavior. These feelings tap into the loneliness and helplessness of being an infant and knowing you will die if no one comes when you cry. Do you think it’s possible that your anger and blame is covering over these difficult feelings of loneliness and helplessness?”

“Yes, I think so,” responded Kim. “I think I want to get others to stop doing what they are doing so I don’t have to feel lonely and helpless.”

“Right. And aren’t you trying to control them with your anger and blame, just as they are trying to control you with their criticism, withdrawal, and telling you what to do?”

“Yes, but if I didn’t try to control them, what would I do?” she asked.

“Learn how to take full responsibility for your own feelings of loneliness and helplessness. This is part of what Inner Bonding is all about – learning how to show up as a loving adult for these painful feelings, rather than act from your wounded self to protect yourself against them. When you can fully manage these difficult feelings through acknowledging them, embracing them with compassion, nurturing them with your spiritual guidance, and then releasing them to spirit or through other release techniques, you will find yourself no longer getting angry and blaming.”

“How long will this take?” asked Kim.

“As long as it takes,” I said. “Do you have something better to do that learn how to show up as a loving adult?”

Kim laughed. “No,” she said. “I guess it’s time to start.”

Take a moment to think about who you blame for your feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, aloneness, emptiness, inadequacy, shame, depression, anxiety, fear and so on. What is really going on inside when you blame someone else for your feelings?

Many people have a strong belief that other people are the cause of most of their feelings — that they are victims of others’ choices — so they have a right to blame others. The belief that others cause your feelings generally starts early in childhood when parents blamed each other, or you, for their painful feelings. Most people do not grow up seeing parents or other caregivers take responsibility for causing their wounded feelings or lovingly managing their painful feelings of life when others are unloving or they are experiencing painful life events. Nor do they see people learning from their feelings. Instead, they see people avoiding their feelings in various ways, such as using addictions to numb them out, or using blame to dump them onto others.

If you have a deep belief that others cause many of your feelings, then it seems only right to blame them for causing your pain or not making you happy. When you come from this belief, the only way you can move out of feeling like a victim is to try to control the other person into not doing the thing that you think is causing your pain, or to do the thing you think will make you happy.

Rather than accept your powerlessness over others’ choices, you convince yourself that if you blame the other person, you can get the other to behave the way you want.

The problem is that the belief that others cause most of your feelings is not true, nor is the belief that you can you have the control over others that you want. While others and life events can cause feelings such as loneliness, heartbreak, grief, and helplessness over them— the existential painful feelings of life, they do not cause your wounded feeling of aloneness, emptiness, anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, or shame. These are being caused by your own wounded self.

For example, let’s say that you come home after a difficult day wanting to share your day with your partner, and your partner is on the phone. You indicate that you want to speak with him or her, but your partner keeps talking on the phone. If you end up feeling hurt and angry, it is easy to believe that it is your partner’s neglect of you that is causing your hurt and anger. But let’s take two different inner reactions to see what is really causing these feelings.

  • If your wounded self is in charge, you might say to yourself, “My partner doesn’t care about me. I’m not important to him or her.”

If this is what you say to yourself, then of course you will feel hurt and angry, but it is not because of what your partner is doing — it is because of what you are telling yourself. Once you make the assumption that your partner’s behavior indicates a lack of caring, you might overtly blame your partner for your feelings by getting angry, or you might covertly blame by shutting down, punishing your partner through withdrawing your love.

  • Or, if your loving adult is in charge, you might say to yourself, “My partner is busy right now with something important to him or her, so I will take this opportunity to relax and decompress so we can have a nice time later sharing the events of our day.”

If this is what you say to yourself, then you would not end up feeling hurt and angry, and you would not blame and punish your partner.

Here is another example.

You have picked up something at the hardware store for the house and your partner blames you for getting the wrong thing, saying, “This is not what I told you to get. Can’t you ever do anything right?”

In this case, your partner has judged you as being inadequate or stupid. You feel hurt at being treated badly and you lash out in blame, “I just got what you told me to get. You are a bad communicator. There’s never any pleasing you.”

Doesn’t it seem logical that your anger and hurt are coming from your partner’s judgment of you?

If you said to yourself from your wounded self, “I’m inadequate, I’m stupid,” then you will feel hurt and angry. However, if you said to yourself, “It looks like my partner had a bad day,” and didn’t take your partner’s blame personally, you might feel compassion instead of hurt and anger. You might respond with, “Wow, that sounds pretty harsh. Have you had a difficult day?”

Blaming another is always a way to avoid responsibility for what you are telling yourself and how you are treating yourself that may be causing your feelings.

How do you end up feeling when you get angry, blaming, or judgmental? Whether you dump your anger and blame on another person or inwardly seethe, your negativity will affect you both physically and emotionally.

On the physical level, the low frequency of anger, blame, and judgment trigger the body’s fight or flight response, causing the adrenal glands to flood the body with the stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol. Blood is taken from the brain and organs and put into the muscles in preparation for action. A constant flood of stress hormones can create many health problems, from headaches and digestion problems to heart attacks, cancer, and strokes.

On the emotional level, anger, blame and judgment often lead to anxiety and depression. While expressing your anger and blame might feel good in the moment, in the long run, expressing these feelings toward yourself or others, or inwardly repressing them, makes your inner child feel unsafe with you as an adult – because you are not taking responsibility for your feelings.

When you are unwilling to accept your lack of control and take responsibility for your feeling of helplessness over others, then you try to control what you can’t control – and this is like hitting your head against a wall. You will always end up feeling awful. While you might be able to intimidate others into doing what you want, you cannot have control over how others feel about you.

Whether you express or repress your blaming anger, you end up feeling anxious or depressed. And there are good reasons for this:

  1. One reason is that anxiety results when you are out of alignment with your true self. Anxiety is your spiritual guidance’s way of letting you know that your thoughts and behavior are not supporting your highest good. When you get angry, blaming, or judgmental with others to try to control how they feel about you and how they treat you, the anxiety is letting you know that you are lying to yourself. You are telling yourself that these forms of control work when they don’t. You are acting as if expressing blame will get you what you want when it will generally get you the opposite. So the anxiety is letting you know that you are off course in your thinking and behavior.
  2. A second reason is that depression results when you end up feeling helpless anyway because your blaming didn’t work. Depression also results when you ignore your feelings of anxiety that are telling you that you are off course. In addition, depression is the result of acting out or repressing your blaming anger instead of learning from it.
  3. And finally, anger, blame, and judgment are low frequency feelings that close the heart. When you express or repress anger rather than learn from it, you cause your heart to close, which cuts you off from the love and peace of spirit. Being cut off from love always causes anxiety and depression.

The way out of all the physical and emotional problems that are caused by blaming anger is to open to learning about your blaming anger. These feelings are always letting you know that there is some way you are not taking care of yourself. Rather than projecting them onto another person or ignoring and repressing them, you can learn about what your angry inner child is trying to tell you. The anger indicates that your inner child is angry with YOU, and if you listen and learn with your feelings and your guidance, you will discover how you are not taking care of yourself and what you can do about it.

Do you sometimes find yourself angry and blaming in your relationships and you have no idea why you are behaving this way?

My clients have said things to me such as:

“A woman who I was dating and who I really liked ended our relationship and is dating someone else. I see her all the time at the market, and I feel like yelling at her. Why do I want to yell at her?”

“I keep vowing not to, but I keep getting really angry at my husband when he is distant.”

“I lost my temper with my assistant and now she is suing me. I just can’t seem to help getting furious when people mess up.”

If this is you, do you know why you continue to act this way, even when your blaming anger generally doesn’t work and may end up creating more problems for you? Do you know what is going on for you when you attack and blame?
Here are some of the reasons you attack and blame. See if you identity with any of them.

  • Do you believe that you can have control over others with blaming anger, and that controlling them will get you what you really want?

While sometimes you might be able to intimidate or guilt a person into doing what you want, you can NEVER have control over how a person thinks and feels. At some point, even if a person complies out of fear or guilt, it may backfire on you.

  • Or, you want to connect with someone, such as a partner, but you don’t want to connect through true openness, as you are fearful of being seen and rejected. Connecting through a fight or argument seems like a safe way to connect. If the other person engages in the argument or fight, then you get some sense of connection, but if the other person disengages, then you may be left feeling even more lonely and helpless.
  • Or, you have low self-esteem. You are terrified of rejection and engulfment. You fear being alone. You feel insecure and powerless and getting angry and blaming makes you feel more powerful.

The problem is that true power comes from power within yourself, not power over others. While having control over another might feel good in the moment, since true self-worth comes from power within, controlling behavior over others never ultimately leads to feeling safe or secure. In fact, it leads to more fear and insecurity when others respond by distancing themselves from you, or resenting you, or resisting you, or rejecting you and leaving you.

  • Or, you are terrified of your more vulnerable feelings of helplessness over others, loneliness, aloneness, emptiness, fear, insecurity, or anxiety. Anger and blame work to cover up these feelings. You have no idea how to manage your pain, so you have learned to get angry and blame to avoid these feelings.

The problem is that blaming anger is a form of self-abandonment. You are ignoring your feelings rather than taking responsibility for them and that’s causing you a lot of pain. Until you learn how to take responsibility for your feelings, you might continue to cover them up with your blaming anger.

  • Or, you really believe that your misery is caused by others rather than by your own self-abandonment, so you feel justified in blaming others for your feelings.

As long as you believe that your painful feelings of anger, fear, hurt, anxiety, depression, guilt, or shame are caused by something outside yourself, rather than from your own thoughts and actions, you will see yourself as a victim and might then try to control others. As long as you avoid responsibility for learning to manage your feelings of loneliness, heartache, sorrow, grief, and helplessness over others, you will try to cover these feelings up with your addiction to anger and blame.

Learning to take compassionate responsibility for your own feelings is the key to moving beyond anger and blame. Learning and practicing the Inner Bonding process is a powerful way to learn how to love yourself and take responsibility for your feelings.

My client Allen consulted with me because his wife of 18 years had threatened to leave him if he didn’t stop blaming her all the time. He admitted to frequently blaming her in a variety of situations. He blamed her if he thought she made a mistake, or if he thought she was wrong about something, or if he was feeling alone, or even if he had a bad day at work. He blamed her for asking him questions when he didn’t know the answer. He would sometimes even blame her if his golf game was off. He always blamed her when he felt judged by her, or when he didn’t get her approval. While he freely admitted that he blamed her, he couldn’t seem to stop, and he had no idea why he did it.

As I explored various situations with Allen, it became apparent that he was not just blaming his wife. Allen was constantly blaming and judging himself. He would verbally beat himself up for mistakes, telling himself things like, “I’m such a jerk,” and would often say other very negative things to himself, such as, “Things will never get any better,” or “I’m just a loser,” or “I’m a big disappointment.” He would then feel angry and agitated as a result of abusing himself, but he never connected his anger with his self-judgment. Instead, he would dump his anger on his wife – or yell at other drivers on the freeway.

It became apparent to Allen that he would not be able to stop blaming his wife until he stopped blaming and judging himself. 

His addiction to blaming others was a direct result of his self-abuse.

Allen’s problem was that he had learned to be very self-indulgent regarding his thoughts. He let his thoughts run rampant, never stopping to discern whether or not what he was telling himself was true or was a lie. As a result, he was constantly allowing his wounded self to be in charge. And this part of him was filled with all the lies he had learned in the 46 years of his life.

He was appalled when he realized that all his anger at others was really anger at himself for abusing himself. He was projecting onto others what he was doing to himself. He saw that he was especially sensitive to others’ judgment because he was so judgmental of himself.

As we explored why Allen was so self-abusive, he realized he believed that if he judged himself enough, he could have control over getting himself to do things “right.” He realized this wasn’t true through an experience he had playing golf.

“I played last Wednesday,” he said, “and I was in a really good mood. I was just playing for the fun of it, rather than needing to prove anything, and I played my best game ever! The very next day I played worse than I have for a long time. I realized that having done so well on Wednesday, I now wanted control over doing as well on Thursday. As soon as I tried to control it, I lost it. I want to stop doing this, but I’ve been doing it my whole life. How do I stop?”

Stopping any addiction is always a challenge. Changing our thought process is especially challenging. The Inner Bonding process will work, but only when you really want to change. Changing from being self-abusive to self-loving has to become more important to you than continuing to try to control yourself through your blaming self-judgments. When you really want to heal your addiction to anger and blame, here is what you can do:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings. Learn to be aware of when you are feeling angry, anxious, hurt, scared, guilty, shamed, depressed, and so on, and decide that you want responsibility for being the cause of these feelings.
  2. Make a conscious decision to learn about what you are telling yourself that is causing your pain, instead of ignoring it, turning to substance or process addictions, or continuing to abuse yourself or others.
  3. Ask yourself, “What am I telling myself that is causing me to feel badly?” Once you are aware of what you are telling yourself, ask yourself, “Am I certain that what I’m telling myself is the truth, or is it just something I’ve made up?” Then ask yourself, “What am I trying to control by telling myself this?”
  4. Once you are aware that you are telling yourself a lie that is causing you to feel badly – and why you are telling it to yourself – ask the highest, wisest part of yourself, or ask a spiritual source of guidance, “What is the truth?” When you sincerely want to know the truth, it will come to you.
  5. Use this information. Keep telling yourself this new truth, and acting on the truth. This will help you change your thinking.
  6. Notice how you feel. Lies will always make you feel badly, while the truth brings relief and inner peace. Any time you are not in peace, go through this process to discover what lie you are telling yourself. Eventually, with enough Inner Bonding practice, you will be in truth and peace more and more of the time.

Moving out of blame and into personal responsibility for your feelings is, as always, about a shift in your intent. When you shift your intent from controlling to learning to love yourself and share your love with others, eventually blaming anger will no longer be your go-to reaction. Of course, this takes practice, and the 6-Steps of Inner Bonding are a powerful practice!

I invite you to join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

And we have so much to offer you at our website at

And, if you enjoyed this podcast, I would really appreciate it if you tell your friends about it, and if you give it a review wherever you heard it.

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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