Blaming: Cognitive Distortion 9
In Blaming we hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.
My daughter is the queen mother of blaming.
She can figure out how to blame anyone for anything. She slipped and fell? It’s definitely brother’s fault for leaving something out. We laugh about her ridiculous claims because she’s five but her antics make me wonder, as adults, how much do we blame others for our actions?
Here’s a story to illustrate Blaming.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Elizabeth. She loved life and had fabulous fun all the time. Well, except for when people did stuff to make her mad. Or hurt her, or mess up her plans, or get in her way. People were always doing stuff to ruin her day.
Elizabeth grew up thinking if she just figured out who was to blame, she could happily move on from her problems. Obviously, someone had screwed up somewhere and it was her job to figure out who and how. Then one day, a series of events made Elizabeth wonder if her previous assumptions had been all wrong.
First, her kids were late to school. Second, she got caught in a huge traffic jam. Third, and this was earth-shattering, how had she ended up in this job, family, and city? She had always dreamed of adventure. Of marrying later in life. Of having a super powerful career by this age. On the outside, she was living the American dream. Two kids, house in the burbs, a job with benefits. On the inside, she was slowly dying. How had she gotten here? A series of small decisions, leading to big life decisions, to, well, here.
In that moment, Elizabeth realized had been blaming others but really, she was to blame.
She had chosen her husband. Elizabeth had chosen marriage. She had chosen to have kids. Sure, other people had been co-deciders in all these decisions, but she had given her consent. She had been excited about finding her soul mate. Elizabeth had been excited about her degree choice. She had been excited about her job at one point.
Maybe she wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time, but instead, she needed to stand up and take some personal responsibility. She could make some new decisions about how she spent her time. Elizabeth could stop blaming others for her situation and start making changes. She loved her life and didn’t want the big things to change, but she did want more personal freedom. Elizabeth wanted to be in charge of some of the little decisions and control her own happiness.
Elizabeth started investigating different hobbies. Activities that delighted her and brought her joy. Reading books that turned on her creativity, so she had more to offer those around her. More to offer herself. Suddenly, Elizabeth wasn’t blaming others for her circumstances anymore. She was taking responsibility for her own happiness and accepting the unfair things that happened around her. No longer blaming others, Elizabeth found herself more content and experiencing joy regularly.
This story is pretty similar to what I went through on my depression journey.
I found myself in a life I had picked, and been insanely happy about at one point, but horribly discontented a few years later. A lot of my problems stemmed from chronic, unresolved pain. The pain was so intense and I couldn’t find anything to make it better. Thankfully, I found a counselor who helped me turn things around emotionally and mentally so that I had the strength to keep searching for answers.
As I took on more and more responsibility for my own decisions, I felt empowered to keep up the good habits and routines that keep me functioning. Yes, others can be blamed for some of the bad circumstances in our lives, but ultimately, we are to blame for our reaction. Once we start taking responsibility for our own reaction, we are empowered to make better decisions and let our happiness be independent of others.
There’s a book on the subject of taking responsibility and not blaming others called Extreme Ownership. You can find it on Amazon or at some libraries.
I’d love to hear your thoughts… Share in the comments!
I picked these daisies having a garden party because it reminds me of groups of people, where there is always some blaming going on! Maybe we could make a pact to stop the needless blaming!
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