When you find that you’re persisting down the Other People’s Behaviour Is All About Me track and are getting stuck on blame, ask yourself, “Why do I want it to be about me?”
What are you getting out of making it all about you? Something about blame feels purposeful and may even be giving you a sense of importance that would be better felt through learning (or re-learning) to value and appreciate you, not from being a blame absorber.
If other people’s behaviour is about you, what is your own behaviour about? Who is your behaviour about?
I used to be an equal opportunity blame absorber. Any time something went wrong or I sensed that something might go wrong, I put me in the centre of it. I blamed me and what I discovered as I started being more honest with myself is that not only has blame got nothing to do with responsibility but it’s a wonderful distraction from having to be truly responsible for our own stuff and ultimately from taking action.
If you have a pesky habit of taking the blame for other people’s behaviour as if you’re a master puppeteer and so influential that one false move can give you a special version of a person’s character specially reserved for “worthless” and “provoking” people, in some way, even if you don’t realise that you’re doing it, you’re blaming somebody somewhere for your own actions. On a conscious level you may be going, “Me, me, me, it’s all about me” but subconsciously, you may have a number of beliefs based around this idea that if this, this and this hadn’t happened and this person and that person had or hadn’t done something, you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing.
That’s what takes away your options because focusing on the blame doesn’t really leave you with anything to do. You can’t change anything with it other than your state of mind and your ability to move forward.
For instance, you might feel incredibly wounded by not being ‘chosen’ by somebody or being what you feel is ‘replaced’. Whoever they were with after you, you’ve made that about you, so you’ve blamed you for the fact that your relationship didn’t work out (that’s the equivalent of cutting them out of the photo and superimposing your face as if you had all of the power to make or break the relationship and they had zero contribution) and then seen their choice of next partner as being directly related to you.
Blame is in its own way, a means of feeling important but also a way of remaining connected to a person and situation.
Blame is in its own way, a means of feeling important but also a way of remaining connected to a person and situation. When you keep beating you over the head with blame and almost objecting to reality and trying to move forward, it’s in part because you’ve made out as if this person was the centre of the universe and that special when you were with them, in the sense of defining them as being all-powerful in the relationship. They were seen in some way as being a source of esteem and validation or certainly now that things haven’t worked out, you’re assuming that they must be an authority when they’re just a human being not a higher power.
In turn, because they’ve been glorified to an extent, this means that it can feel as if the sun has gone in and that you’ve been ‘downgraded’ because now that you’re taking the blame and making them out to be super-important, even if you didn’t see them this way before, it occurs to you that retrsopectively, they must have been more valuable than you.
In turn, this leaves you feeling “not good enough” and in its own twisted way, this narrative of blaming you for their behaviour and putting you at the centre of why they’re for instance, with somebody else, becomes a means of feeling purposeful and important.
If I can’t be important with you, I’ll make myself important out of being without you.
That’s why you may want this to be about you because if you stop making other people’s behaviour about you, you have to find something else to think and do. You have to take action.
It’s for this specific reason why as humans, even when we’ve gone through a myriad of emotions in our efforts to grieve the loss of a relationship, we can find ourselves circling back to blame when we’re faced with a choice between that or thoughts (and emotions) that are related to letting go and moving forward. Blame keeps us connected whereas if we proactively step away from it, we have to find another means of feeling valuable and that can be quite scary if the reality is, we’ve never really relied on ourselves and have always leaned towards external esteem.
I’ve experienced this many times in life and when I think back to a couple of years ago as I grieved the fallout with my father and his family, I realised that part of the pain was going from always having felt important due to my absence from them throughout my life and this idea of being “missed” to this new absence. As I grieved and went through the anger and in some ways blaming myself, I acknowledged that focusing on this idea that “it’s me” and that “everyone” was talking about me or ganging up or whatever, was a temporary way of feeling important.
Of course there are better ways to feel important and valued and it stopped being important to me or my ego for that matter. Sometimes we fall into the trap of seeing all attention, even crumbs or negative attention, as attention whether it’s from ourselves or others.
A gift that you can give you that costs nothing other than compassion and a little patience, is to unburden you from thought processes that don’t really make sense. It doesn’t make sense to hold onto blame. Unless you were 100% in control of the situation and you can do something positive about it (something that comes from a place of mutual love, care, trust, and respect), all that blame does is keep you stuck and feed an existing narrative that’s not serving you.
We want things to be about us because we want to matter but we already matter anyway and ultimately, there are better ways to make a difference in this world and to matter than making us the centre of other people’s behaviour while losing ourselves.