We talk about blame — how we blame others, how we take blame on ourselves and how we can move past blaming. We have learned that blaming is often a result of black and white thinking, and that we can have healthier relationships when we can look at our part in a conflict realistically, rather than assuming that one party must be totally at fault. Understanding that most people are doing the best they can most of the time lets us detach from, forgive, or accept others behavior rather than blaming them for what they did “to us.”
Erika finds that she wants to figure exactly who did what wrong, so she can accurately assign blame. When she thinks she is in the wrong, she feels shame and guilt. SunShine and Spencer both blamed their loved ones for their alcoholism. We felt that we should have been able to do more to help, to “fix” it, and blamed ourselves for that lack.
We explore the statement “You made me feel X.” A lot of blame can come from this. Spencer suggests something that he learned recently, that feelings are reactions to events, and that they are natural. But we attach “stories” to the feelings, such as “he always does that” or “she never does that” or “you’ve disappointed me yet again”. Those stories lead us to blame. We can’t control our feelings, but we can change how we react to the feelings, what stories we tell ourselves, and so how we blame.
How do we get past blaming into a more healthy way of responding and reacting to others’ actions? One thing that helped to not blame our alcoholics was understanding that alcoholism was not a choice, that it is a disease. We came to see that the actions of the alcoholic were not directed at us, were not being done to us, but were an effect of the disease. Erika finds it helpful to remember that people are usually doing the best they can. SunShine reflects on the difficulty of seeing the middle ground, where a situation “just is”, and nobody is to blame for it. She has defense mechanisms that helped to keep her safe earlier in her life, which are now not necessarily helpful.
Understanding where they come from doesn’t mean that we have to excuse or put up with those actions, though. We look at the question of unacceptable behavior. Isn’t it necessary to have some judgement of others actions to set healthy boundaries and to keep ourselves save? Absolutely, yes! Judgement becomes judging when we “turn up the volume.” The program helps us to find the right level of judgement. We learn to look at ourselves and others and to see much more clearly what is “our part” and what is “their part.”
Can we use detachment to help in avoiding blaming? Erika relates how she detached from an alcoholic friend when her friend’s actions resulted in her not feeling safe with that friend. It is helping her to get through blaming her friend for her actions. SunShine reflects on how the program provides her with support for dealing with blaming herself for situations from her past, saying “I’m never alone in this program. I’m not alone any more.” Spencer has been challenged by his higher power to look at others as God looks at them, and realized recently that means he should also look at himself in that way, to also love himself just as he was and is.
We finish by reviewing the tools we use to avoid blaming, or to get through the feelings that push us to blame ourselves or others. These include: Trusting in our Higher Power to not give us something we can’t handle. Remembering that we have choices. Remembering that other people are humans, too. Forgiveness of ourselves. Knowing that our past experiences have brought us to this place, where we are learning to be better people, or even just to be a person. Recognizing “old tapes” that don’t need to have power in our lives now, that the inner child is there but is no longer in control. Knowing how to set boundaries. Being able to take risks despite the fear of failure or success. Having a core of serenity from which it is easier to “see the gray”.
Our topic for next week is trusting the process. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the show
Saliva – How Could You?
Anberlin – Blame me! Blame me!
Links to things we mentioned
Amanda Palmer's TED talk, “The Art of Asking“.
Brené Brown is on Oprah, talking about shame.
Sites with online meetings:
- Here is another site you can try–I think these are mostly chat type meetings
- This site says they are not affiliated with the national Alanon organization, but they look to have a lot of options.
In The Rooms is a site for recovery social networking, and hosts one online video meeting each week. It also has forums where members of various recovery fellowships can ask questions and find help from each other.
This Spotify playlist includes all the songs that we considered for this episode.