Dr. Nona Owens - Psychologist
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The Blame Game: Coming To Terms With Blame or Blaming

Blame is something we are all familiar with, whether we are on the receiving end or the one blaming others.  Many relations are strained or end due to blame. Sometimes, it is because one or the other refuses to see that there are two sides to any event.
As a child, I was challenged by my father to find something that had one side.  I was promised a dollar if I found that one-sided something.  And, since that was in an era when a dollar went a long way for a child, I kept looking for that elusive item/event to earn that dollar.  Now, years after my father's death, and a grandmother myself, I am still looking for anything that is one-sided. 
Have you wondered why we place blame on others?  The most logical answer would be that it is done because the person has done something wrong.  While that is true in many cases, it isn't always the cause.  For instance, there are those who blame so that they do not have to face their own issues.  They are the ones who "strike" to take the focus away from the real issues.  Another reason is to blame others so that they don't have to face the consequences, much like a criminal would do to avoid punishment.
One of the places I deal with blame the most is in marriage/couples counseling.  I often have to teach one or both partners to sit, listen, and reflect on what the other is saying because they are so busy trying to think of an attack on the other that they don't hear the message they are given.  It is hard to focus and resolve issues when blame is all that is going on.  Here, one side needs to be heard and worked with before moving on to the issue that the partner expresses.  I will help them learn to do this by having them repeat back and try to reflect back the thoughts of their partner.
Teachers encounter the blame game with parents too.  Many a teacher is faced with being blamed as to why "Little Johnny" isn't achieving in the classroom, or why "Sweet Mary" isn't accepted into Harvard.  On another note, when the child is a discipline problem in the classroom, there are parents who do not see that their child might be the one who is wrong, or that they, as parents, need to take a different approach to discipline or working with their child within the home.
While some people are mature and mentally stable enough to look at what is being said to them when they have done something wrong so that those involved can work toward finding a resolution, there are others who cannot see where they are wrong, and continue to place the blame on others.  This weakens and even ends many relationships.  Sometimes, it is necessary to set limits or establish new boundaries when one is always on the receiving end of being blamed.
No one likes to be blamed, nor do they like to feel that they are not heard when they have issues to point out to others where they are wrong.  The goal of identifying problems should be to do this so that there can be ways to work toward a solution.  
The problem arises when one can only see that elusive one side-theirs.  Failure to accept responsibility, or to see the feelings of others is something we all encounter in interactions with others from time to time.  Then, there are others who make a half-hearted attempt to deal with the issues.  A good example of this was seen in an email I read recently which said "I hope you can forgive me for things you perceive that I have done".  In this case, no wrong was admitted, and there was no attempt to work toward a healthy resolution.
I'm sure anyone reading this has been the receiver of being blamed, as well as participated in blaming others.  We are all human.  We are not perfect, nor are others.  There are things we can do to resolve conflict when blame is involved.  The first is to listen carefully and look at the other party's position.  Then, look at how things could have been different from your part.  Try to keep an open dialogue by remembering that there are two sides to every situation.  Healthy people work to look at both sides, not place the blame back on others.
Dr. Nona Owens
580 Springridge Rd.
Suite 4-A
Clinton, Mississippi 39056

4 Comments to The Blame Game: Coming To Terms With Blame or Blaming:

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Frieda L. Ferrick, MFT on Friday, July 27, 2012 12:03 PM
I think what you wrote, Nona, is relevant and helpful. Blaming is a way of deflecting taking responsibility for our own actions. I have been guilty in my life of doing this and part of being a grown up is facing up to what we have done and making some kind of amends.
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