I Wish It Was His Fault

I remember once when my son was about three, he was playing alongside his little brother Jesse and he hurt his foot on a toy truck that he'd left in the middle of the floor.  I went over to comfort him and after a few minutes he said "I feel like hitting Jesse." 

"Why?"  I asked him.  "It wasn't Jesse's fault."

"I know" he said, "But I wish it was."

 Touché.  Honest and transparent and what we often feel but don't admit.   He had been agitated for awhile with his 1 year old brother for a variety of reasons (that only a 3 year old oldest child with a 1 year old new sibling fully understands). How awesome would it be if somehow he could blame (and hit) the person who seemed to be currently upsetting his life, rather than take responsibility for his hurt foot.

 We do this all the time as adults and sadly, we often don't get to the "I know it's not their fault but I wish it was"  level of awareness and integrity.  Whether it's an annoying person at work, a spouse, an ex or a sibling, we can find a way to blame them for our troubles.    It feels so much better to have it be the fault of someone we dislike, rather than our own fault.    If my little son had been a few decades older, I'm sure he could have discovered some way to trace the trucks positioning back to his brother.  Perhaps if Jesse hadn't been sitting on the floor,  the truck might be in that spot and not where it was and he wouldn't have stepped on it.   If Jesse hadn't been playing with the blocks then perhaps he would be playing with them and not the truck.   Our creativity and resourcefulness in finding a way to blame someone else is truly remarkable.

 It does make sense that we do this though.    The feeling of "this hurts and it's my fault" is crappy.   It feels much better to legitimate our aggravation towards another person by blaming them.   It gets us off the hot seat and substantiates our dislike of the 'other'.  

 The only catch is that it doesn't actually work.  It is short term relief and often with unhappy consequences.   And, over time, if we become accustomed to finding someone to blame when we get hurt, we never learn the very important skill of owning our choices.   We get to a point where we immediately reflex to "it's her fault"' response, rather than "How did I participate in this outcome?" query.  

I am not suggesting that we just shift the blame from 'other' to 'self'.  This is not about letting other people off the hook and blaming yourself or beating yourself up.  Most of us have that skill down pat too.     What I'm suggesting is something much bigger and ultimately, wonderfully liberating.  There are some small but absolutely crucial differences between 'beating yourself up' and 'owning your stuff'.  And the difference in the emotional experience and relationship outcome is huge.

 If you believe you are 'blamed' for everything by someone in your life and don't know what to do, or if you have the self-awareness to recognize it in yourself but don't know what to do about it, then call me.  I can help.

Posted on July 24, 2016 .