We've all done it. We've all been there. It instantly makes us feel better about the situation, but it is the absolute fastest way to cut connection. It's the blame game. And it's so addicting and so insidious that most people don't even realize they're doing it until it's too late.
Called "the cocaine of relationships" by Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, authors of Conscious Loving, blaming your partner (or yourself) can become a nasty habit that gets you hooked and eventually drains all vital life force out of a relationship. When we point the finger of blame, we believe that we are working to save the situation - make the other change for the better of us both. But in reality, it is one of the driving factors of pain, arguments, disconnection, and ultimately, distance where there was once connection.
Blame as an addiction? It might sound extreme, but let's look at it deeper. Addictions are distractions from what's going on inside. Some of the most common addictions - overeating, excessive shopping, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, and the oh-so-pervasive doom scrolling - they are all escapes from something else. Boredom, dissatisfaction, emotional discomfort, or other more complicated feelings such as trauma. The addictive behavior becomes the distraction which fills the time rather than addressing the underlying issue.
Simultaneously, the behavior gives you a little "hit", every time you buy something new, swipe to the next reel, place the next bet or make another drink, your body secretes adrenaline and you get a pleasant rush of feeling fired up. It feels good, and different, and that provides a brief escape. But adrenaline is a stress hormone, and although it makes you feel something, the feeling only lasts a while and, before long, you're back at it again, deepening the cycle and resulting in more pain and separation.
Blame works in the same way. It's an easy out that prevents us from doing a deeper dive, revealing more about ourselves and admitting to being less-than-polished perfect people. And all our self-preservation efforts! Out the window! Our brains are constantly looking for logical critical thoughts to keep us safe. By scanning the horizon for blame, it is the shortest and fastest way out of danger. It becomes a default way of being.
But what is actually happening? Blame becomes a substitute for something else. Something in the relationship is lacking. There is a rift - usually in connection and intimacy - and the rush of "being right" takes the place of making love, finding deeper connection, trust, security, or new realities about yourself. And since the rush of blame wears off quickly, we see couples escalate conflict again and again to simulate highs, trying to recreate the highs of joy, connection and love, with the destructive adrenaline of conflict, fighting, and pain.
By choosing to stop blaming cold turkey, we are instead inviting vitality and positivity back into our relationships. There is so much to gain. Although it can be scary - taking responsibility for our part in the problem is challenging at first - there is the reward of all the spaciousness it will create in your relationship. You'll gain permissiveness to be fallible, rather than be right. In place of conflict, there is curiosity. Rather than arguments, there is introspection. Rather than asking why someone didn't do something, there's an inquiry into why they did.
There is also so much more time! When you are no longer spiraling in the cycle of blame, you have more time for love, laughter, touching, talking, spending time as a family, dreaming up new ideas or simply being grateful for what you already have.
Another side effect of stopping the negative cycle of blame and frustration comes a deeper sense of being in your own body. When we stop pointing the finger, there is no one left but ourselves. The only place to look is within. And with this one, seemingly simple act, comes a world of benefit. Being more centered, more grounded, and more embodied is a gift that will ripple out into all that you do.
The more inward your gaze becomes, you find your center of being no longer resides solely in the mind. There is so much more to knowing who you are and what you need to feel safe. You begin to feel into your heart with it's warmth and compassion, a place where we spend far less time than we should. Research shows that people who meditate on compassion experience better mood, less stress, better relationships, and improved immune system functioning.
And even deeper, when we drop down even more, we reach the belly, the seat of our intuition, a truer place of knowing than the mind with five times as many neurons as the brain! Accessing this information can help us feel more safe, realize what's been missing or where we are feeling out of integrity, find more clarity and a much deeper, lasting sense of peace than by just relying on our logical, survival oriented mind.
So next time you find yourself looking for the culprit, I invite you to pause and reflect on what you are needing out of this situation for yourself, right now, in this moment. Create space to check in and you may be surprised at what you find. There is so much power in taking back the reins on your relationship and trading the blame for authenticity.
Art by Daren MaGee @ Real Fun, Wow