Serenity in an Age of Anxiety

Breaking the Blame Cycle-Part 2


by Ben Smith            When the blame cycle starts with rotten behavior such as cheating, lying, stealing or cruelty, it is easy for the victim to claim the moral high ground. The occupant of the moral high ground might temporarily feel better, but over time, it is emotionally unsatisfying.  A diet of blame leads to the loneliness of self-righteousness and the sickness of disappointment because it separates you from others. Not to mention if someone’s behavior can make you unhappy you are in their power.


You don’t have to approve or encourage behavior you don’t like but if you get stuck in blame you may as well give up your peace of mind. Luckily, a blame cycle takes two people to start but only one to break. The ability to break the cycle all by yourself is your hidden super power. The secret is to give up trying to change other’s behavior and concentrate on changing your own mind. Happiness lies in introducing something into the relationship beyond expectations and frustration. It’s time to give up the need to be right and be the source of love and validation you hoped to get from others.


Take 100% Responsibility for Your Happiness


You are not directly responsible for someone else’s behavior but many people remain blissfully unaware of the power they have to influence other’s reactions. Cindy’s mother, Bea does not believe she is critical. She is simply responding to Cindy’s frostiness. Cindy sees herself as a kind and loving person except with her mother, who does not appreciate her.


To break the cycle, one of them must ask the question, what behavior of mine does the other person find upsetting? This does not mean accepting blame, but is a way to take responsibility by identifying unintentionally provoking behaviors. Here is the kicker: The person with the superpower scrutinizes their own behavior without an expectation that the other person will do the same. The willingness to examine their behavior while the other continues to blame is the less traveled road to emotional freedom.


With a few snarky comments about her mother’s neediness, Cindy admitted she was not warm when it came to Bea. She needed to keep her distance and set boundaries or Bea would take over her life, she argued defensively.  Cindy wanted to discuss expectations and set ground rules but Bea is uninterested. In frustration, Cindy is trying to control the situation. Matching Bea’s perceived selfishness with equally unloving behavior is keeping them in a blame cycle.


Cindy may need to set boundaries but has chosen to blame and punish her mother instead. Boundaries are important but not Cindy’s primary goal. Despite her complaints, Cindy secretly wants to feel loved by her mother. Ironically, Bea wants the same from Cindy.  Blame is a disastrous strategy two people use to bully love and/or attention out of the other. When blame inevitably fails, the punishment begins, trapping the participants in a painful cycle. Owning the hidden love and attention agenda is the secret to letting go of blame.

Post #20

Next time: Part 3: Activate Your Super Power with Wholeheartedness


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