Do you sometimes find yourself angry and blaming in your relationships and you have no idea why you are behaving this way? Find out what is behind the need to blame. Discover the physical and emotional issues that your anger, blame and judgment are causing you, and what you can do to heal an addiction to blame.
Take a moment to think about who you blame for your wounded 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 these feelings?
Many people have a strong belief that other people are the cause of their wounded feelings — the feelings that they are causing with their self-abandonment. While others and circumstances cause our existential feelings of life, such as loneliness, grief, heartbreak, and helplessness concerning others and events, only we cause our wounded feelings. Yet many people believe that others are causing their wounded feelings – that they are victims of others’ choices — so they have a right to blame others. The belief that others cause these feelings generally starts early in childhood when parents blamed each other, or you, for their anger, aloneness, anxiety, depression and so on. Most people do not grow up seeing parents or other caregivers take responsibility for causing or managing their own feelings. 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.
Blame is a form of control that originates in the wounded part of oneself that hates to feel helpless over others. 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 all of your feelings is not true, nor is the belief that you can you have the control over others that you want. As I said, while others can cause feelings such as loneliness and heartbreak — the existential feelings of life, they do not cause your aloneness, emptiness, anxiety, depression, guilt or shame.
For example, let’s say that you come home after a difficult day at work wanting to share your day with your partner, and your partner is busy with a project – like an art project, or cooking, or something for the kids. You indicate that you want to speak with him or her, but your partner stays busy. 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.
- You 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’s because of what you are telling yourself. Once you assume 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.
- You 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.
Let’s take another example…
You have picked up something at the grocery store 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, “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 you didn’t take your partner’s blame personally, you might feel compassion instead of hurt and anger. You might respond with, “Honey, 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.
I often hear things from my clients like:
“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.”
“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.”
“I hate it that I keep yelling at my kids and I keep vowing not to, but I keep doing it. What’s wrong with me?”
If this is you, do you know why you continue to act this way, even when your angry behavior 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? Some of the possible reasons might be that:
- You believe that you can have control over others with anger or blame, and that controlling them will get you what you really want.
Sometimes you might be able to intimidate or guilt a person into doing what you want, but 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.
- You want to connect with someone, such as a partner, but you don’t want to connect through true openness because 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.
- You have low self-worth. 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.
- You are terrified of your more vulnerable feelings of helplessness over others, and of 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 getting angry and blaming are forms of self-abandonment. While you might believe that it is others, situations, events, or the past that are creating your pain, it’s that you are ignoring your feelings rather than taking responsibility for them that is actually causing most of your painful feelings. Until you learn how to take responsibility for your feelings, you might continue to cover them up with your anger and blame.
- You really believe that your wounded pain is caused by others rather than by your own self-abandonment, so you feel justified in blaming others for your feelings.
- You have no idea how to compassionately manage the painful existential feelings of life, so you blame to cover them up.
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 have a need to try to control others. As long as you avoid responsibility for learning to lovingly manage your feelings of loneliness, heartache, sorrow, grief, and helplessness over others, you will try to cover these feelings up with anger and blame.
Learning to take compassionate responsibility for your own feelings is the key to moving beyond blame. Learning and practicing Inner Bonding 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, 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 blamed her.
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 as well. He would verbally beat himself up for mistakes, telling himself things like, “I’m such a jerk,” and would often say 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 to myself.” 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.
The problem was that Allen had learned to be very self-indulgent regarding his thoughts. He let his thoughts run rampant, never stopping to discern whether what he was telling himself was the truth or a lie. As a result, he constantly allowed 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.
Allen was appalled when he realized that all his anger at others was really his 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 that he believed that if he judged himself enough, he could have control over getting himself to do it “right.” He realized this wasn’t true by an experience he had playing golf.
“I played last Wednesday, and I was in a really good mood,” he said. “I was just playing for the fun of it, rather than to play well, 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 while 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 self-judgments. When you really want to heal your addiction to blame, here is what you can do:
- 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.
- Make a conscious decision to learn about what you are telling yourself that is causing your pain, rather than ignoring it, turning to substance or process addictions, or continuing to abuse yourself.
- 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?”
- 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 an inner teacher or a spiritual source of guidance, “What is the truth?” When you sincerely want to know the truth, it will easily come to you.
- Change your thinking, now telling yourself the truth.
- Notice how you feel. Lies will always make you feel badly, while the truth brings inner peace. Any time you are not in peace, go through this process to discover what lie you are telling yourself. Eventually, with enough practice of Inner Bonding, you will be acting from truth and feeling peaceful more and more of the time.
You might want to start to be aware of what the payoff is for getting angry and blaming yourself or others.
I had a session with Frank who was very upset with himself for playing soccer so badly in his recent game. 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 inadequate jerk!” He told me he was 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 very nervous, and I probably made more mistakes.”
“Frank, open to learning with the angry and blaming wounded part of you and ask why he persists in getting angry and blaming toward yourself.”
“This part of me believes that if I get upset enough, I won’t keep doing things wrong.”
“So 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?”
“What about it do you like?”
“Well, 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 guess I would feel helpless, and I hate feeling helpless.”
“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?”
“That’s right! I am addicted to the feeling of power. I like that feeling.”
“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 than deal with the feeling of helplessness. So, until you are willing to feel the authentic feeling of helplessness 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 would need to develop your loving adult through your practice of Inner Bonding.”
“Yes,” said Allen, “I will!”
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. 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 what do you think you are feeling under the anger when someone criticizes you or withdraws from you or tells you what to do?”
“I feel rejected.”
“When someone is judgmental or controlling toward you or disconnects from you, do you think you might also feel lonely?”
“Lonely – yeah, that’s the feeling. 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. 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?”
“You can learn how to take full responsibility for your 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. Do you have something better to do that learn how to show up as a loving adult?”
Kim laughed. “No. I guess it’s time to start.”
Are you aware of how you end up feeling when you get angry, blaming or judgmental? Whether you dump your anger and blame on another person or you inwardly seethe, your negativity will affect you both physically and emotionally.
On the physical level, the low frequency of anger, blame and judgment triggers 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 fight or flight. 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 outwardly or inwardly repressing them makes your inner child feel unsafe with you because you are not taking responsibility for your feelings.
The more you learn and practice Inner Bonding, and learn to take responsibility for all your feelings, both the wounded feelings and the painful existential feelings of life, the less you will blame yourself or others, and all your relationships will greatly improve.
Inner Bonding always works when you do it!
You can find many resources for learning how to develop your loving adult and connect with your higher guidance at https://www.innerbonding.com
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”
Heal your relationships with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.