Why do we blame others or ourselves?
Blame is really a venting mechanism for sadness. The primary emotion behind blame is sadness. We feel sad when things don’t go our way or when people say things we don’t like or when our expectations don’t lead to fruition. The gap between what we expect and what is results in sadness. This sadness feels terrible in the body. It’s a crushing, heavy and uneasy feeling. Our immediate reaction is to get this feeling out of the system. And the secondary emotions, such as anger, restlessness, blame, and criticism arise in response to the primary emotion of sadness. We think that by shouting out, or by blaming others we can relieve ourselves of this emotion. But this is hardly the case. By thinking about it: How bad people are, How dysfunctional society is and so on, we are merely perpetuating the vicious cycle of thinking and feeling.
The thing we must do is to go directly to the feeling. Be with the feeling. Each time, the mind escapes into thinking and voicing the blame, bring it back gently to how you feel. If it helps use the following conversations.
Blaming voice: This person is terrible. I told her thousand times to be on time and yet she is late.
Counselling voice: You are right. She is irresponsible. But how does that make you feel?
Blaming voice: How do I feel? I feel terrible. Anybody in my place will be upset over her tardiness. How can one make plans with someone like this?
Counselling voice: That’s right. How are you feeling right now?
Blaming voice: Terrible.
Counselling voice: Where?
Blaming voice: All over my head. My chest.
Counselling voice: Just acknowledge this. Just be with it.
Blaming voice: [silence]
You’ll notice that there is a desperate attempt not to accept one’s sadness, not to be vulnerable to oneself. This running away from oneself is the root cause of suffering. Going to yourself means simply this – accepting that you are hurt, you are sad. This very acceptance does not make you weak. On the contrary, it makes you strong by the understanding that while the emotion can exist within you, you are not fundamentally harmed by it. This is a strength born not from defence, but from total allowing. It is a strength born from the understanding that you have nothing to defend because nothing can harm you in the first place.
So the next time, you get pulled into any narrative of blame, criticism or anger, pause. Ask yourself how you feel? And be with this sensation in the body. By bringing one’s awareness to the intense emotion, it slowly dissolves. This is how we can begin to have a say over our emotions and stop the eternal cycle of hurt and blame.