assign responsibility for a fault or wrong.“The board of inquiry blamed the engineer for the accident”
What it looks like in relationships
Blame often takes the form of score-keeping where one person says, “Well I wouldn’t have yelled at you had you paid better attention and not dinged the car door!” It can also take the form of overt assigning of fault: “This is your fault because you are never careful enough.” You’ll notice that the word “never” adds an element of criticism as well. Technically, blame is associated with defensiveness, so be on the lookout for it if you are feeling defensive! Blame won’t help as much as you might think in the heat-of-the-moment.
Regardless of how it presents, blame is an attempt to vent off pain. In the video at the bottom of this post, Brené Brown talks about the inverse relationship between blame and accountability/responsibility because accepting responsibility means feeling the pain of regret.
What to do about it: Accept Responsibility & and Look for Hidden Desires
The antidote for blame is to accept responsibility, even if only for some parts of the situation. Accepting responsibility reduces the strain on the conversation, and in your own mind so that you can capture those chances for connection with your partner.
Quite often, when blame is a part of conflict, taking a closer look at the situation will reveal that the person doing the blaming is secretly longing for something . . .they may not even be able to put words on it just yet. When you show them that you are willing to help shoulder the burden of the tension, they are far more likely to find the words to express those deeper needs and wants.
Why it is important to move away from blame
Here’s a short (and funny!) video by Dr. Brené Brown about Blame and how toxic it is in our lives.
To learn more about red-flags to look out for and how to fix them, please visit my Couples Counseling page. Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level-2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.