Raise your hand if you’re guilty of playing “the blame game” with your spouse or partner. You can’t hear it, but I’m raising my hand too! Whether you call it projection, denial, or displacement, blame is a defense mechanism. It helps you preserve your self-esteem by avoiding awareness of your own flaws or failings. We also use blame when we’re in attack mode, in an attempt to hurt our partners. Talk about a destructive conflict resolution method!
Today, I want to talk with you about getting untangled from the blame game. We might not like to admit it, but we’ve all played this game. Let’s focus on how to step out of your old fights and negative patterns, and get better connected.
Chances are, you look at conflict as a cause and effect relationship — a straight line. Instead, let’s look at conflict from a circular perspective. Remember the old riddle, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” That’s a perfect example of circular thinking: the chicken needed an egg to hatch from, but the egg also needed a chicken to lay it.
Shift from “who” to “how”
What does this look like in your relationship? I like to think of it as a circular dance. Games pit people against each other, but in a dance, you aren’t competitors — you’re partners! Whereas blame is all about who did what, in the circular dance, how is key.
Of course, if this were easy, everyone would be doing the circular dance. Don’t admit defeat: it is hard, yes, but doable. The circular dance benefits your relationship in many ways.
- Increase communication with your partner
- Decrease conflict
- Feel like a team again
Remember: as with anything emotionally difficult, it’s critical to take good care of yourself. That way you can show up your strongest! Need a refresher course? Brush up on Self care here.
“You!!” by Flicker user Subharnab Majumdar, licensed under CC BY 2.0.