Blame can be a powerful motivator.
Blame gives you a great reason to stay angry at the world. It also gives you a target to focus on when things go wrong.
Unfortunately, being on the other side of that blame is rough – especially if you didn’t do anything to provoke the feeling in the first place. If you are dealing with someone who blames you for everything that goes wrong in his or her life, it’s essential to figure out how to deal with those emotions in a healthy way, whether they’re just being mean or something deeper.
“Blaming others is nothing more than excusing yourself.” – Robin Sharma
Doing so isn’t always easy, but you can follow the steps below to find a way to deal with such a relationship.
The Impact of Blame
There are many reasons why someone might choose to blame you for things that have gone wrong in your own life. In some cases, you might actually be at fault. In others, there might be a misunderstanding. You may even be dealing with a situation in which the blame is actually a form of displacement. Regardless of the reasons why the anger and blame occur, you need to understand the kind of impact that this blame can have on your life and on your other relationships before you can move forward.
In all honesty, there are some situations in which you can simply ignore the fact that the other party blames you for everything that goes wrong in his or her life. If you rarely interact with that person, for example, it might not be worth your time or effort to go through all of the steps discussed here. In some cases, it simply makes sense for you to cut that person out immediately so that you can both get on with your own lives. You need to stop and weigh the impact of the blame on your interactions before you can work on changing the situation.
Start from a Place of Understanding
Once you’ve established how the blame impacts you, you can start to figure out how to deal with that blame. Your starting place has to be one where you must put yourself in the shoes of the other person, if only for the briefest of moments. You need to try to understand why the other person treats you the way he or she does and ultimately why he or she seems to blame you for incidents that are almost certainly out of your control. Only by confronting these attitudes can you move on.
To say that you should try to understand the other party does not mean that you need to validate the logic behind their feelings, though. Instead, it means that you need to take the time to understand what’s going on with the other party. You do not have to think that the other party is right – in fact, you may walk away from the experience convinced that no rational person could feel the way that this person feels. Taking the time to put yourself in their shoes does, however, grant you a moment of understanding why he or she might be acting out.
Think of the process of gaining an understanding as one that involves research. You’re not necessarily looking at what you feel at all – you’re just looking at how the other party looks at the world. Don’t think about what you’ve done or what you haven’t done. Just think about the story that the other party has to tell himself or herself.
You are gathering data in this stage, but you won’t have access to everything you need to succeed. You’re going to create a sketch from which you can work, nothing more. To accomplish more, you’ll have to keep moving through the process.
Separate Your Feelings from Their Own
The next step in dealing with this problem is to try to separate your feelings from the feeling of the other person. He or she clearly blames you for everything that goes on in his or her life, but that doesn’t mean that those feelings are valid.
It is very easy to fall into a trap in which you feel like you have to put in work to make the other person feel better or in which you feel guilty because of the other party’s grudge. Simply put, you need to remove yourself from that kind of emotion.
This is a crucial part of dealing with these feelings simply because you have to learn how to give your own feeling validity. The anger and pain that lie behind this kind of blame can be powerful and overwhelming, and it’s very easy to get lost in those feelings. You have to be able to stand up for yourself if you don’t want to get caught in the wake of that other person and you have to be willing to give your own feelings just as much weight. When you learn how to separate your emotions from those of the other party, you stand a much better chance of getting out of this cycle.
Taking the time to stand up for yourself also allows you to go into the next few steps with a bit more strength on your side. Whether you realize it or not, it’s very easy to go into a conversation with someone who blames you for everything as either someone who is penitent or who is defensive.
If you can give yourself permission to separate yourself from the narrative of the other person, though, you’ll get a great chance to move forward and to make changes to your relationship based on your own reality. Don’t let the other person control the narrative of what happens moving forward.
Re-assess the Relationship
Next, you want to consider what these feelings of blame have actually done to your relationship. It’s entirely reasonable to wonder why the other person keeps interacting with you if he or she blames you for so much that has gone on and to take a second glance at the actions that the other party has taken in your relationship. In short, you want to take a few moments to re-assess where your relationship stands at the moment.
As an example, you might want to take a second look at a friendship in which the other party continually brings up a slight from years ago as an excuse for his or her behavior. If that person is continually mistreating you and using an old wound as an excuse, are the two of you really friends? If so, how does this animosity impact how close the two of you can be? You need to take some time to determine to what degree your own guilt and frustration, as well as the anger of the other party, is impacting how well the two of you can get along.
Re-assessing your relationship is also going to help you figure out exactly how hard you’re going to want to work to re-establish something better. If you note that your relationship has been toxic and that the other party has been using a combination of shaming tactics and anger to cause you harm, it may not be worth reconciling and you may want to skip a step. Every situation is different, of course, and you need the time to sit back and re-examine everything that has happened in order to determine precisely where you want to go next with this person.
Attempting a Reconciliation
If you feel like the relationship is actually worth salvaging, it’s time to sit down and talk to the other party. Doing so can happen in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings, but the goal here is to do more than just find out why the other person is angry – you want to make a permanent change.
Depending on the degree of anger and the impact that it has on your life, you may want to seek out professional help. Working with a therapist or a mediator can help you to bring a neutral party into the situation and allow you to both talk about your feelings.
The goal here is to come to some kind of fundamental understanding. You do not have to have a perfect relationship, but you do need one that is functional. You cannot go back and change what’s happened between the two of you, but you can move forward.
The sad truth about trying to reconcile, though, is that it won’t always work. Both parties have to be able to come together and agree on some sort of solution, and this means that the other party must be willing to look at things through a lens other than one of blame. If you can’t accomplish that, you simply cannot expect to reconcile.
Mourning the Loss
If you can’t salvage the relationship, the most reasonable option is to disentangle yourself from the relationship to whatever degree is possible. While this is very much something you should do, it’s also important to take some time to mourn the relationship that did exist.
The truth is that people rarely get blamed for things by those with whom they have no connection. If you are routinely dealing with someone who blamed you for everything, there is a very good chance that you stuck around for a reason. This person could be a friend or a family member, but regardless of the type of affiliation, he or she was a person who impacted your life.
It’s absolutely normal to take some time to mourn what had come before when you know that you’re going to need to move on. Even if it’s a relief to get away from the blame and the anger, it’s a good idea to stop and to reflect on what went wrong and why it all happened.
It might be useful to think of this as an autopsy for your relationship. Go back and think about the points covered above, and think about what you missed to let things get to this point. In some cases, you might note that you could have stopped things earlier. In others, you might realize that the relationship has been a lost cause for years.
Take a bit of time to feel bad that the relationship is over and then prepare to move on. You have put in the requisite effort, now it’s time for you to finish things up by taking control of your own life.
The final step in your journey is to move on from the emotional drain of this kind of relationship. The other party might still resent or blame you, but at some point, you need to understand that you’ve done all that you can do. You’ll need to separate yourself emotionally from the relationship to get closure.
This is more difficult in some situations than others, of course. If the other party is a family member or coworker, you won’t have the ability to avoid him or her completely, but you can significantly step down your interactions to a minimal level. Moving on is perhaps the hardest part of dealing with someone who blames you for everything, but it’s ultimately the healthiest thing you can do for yourself.
Once you’ve committed to moving beyond the relationship, you’ll be able to gain more perspective on what went wrong and how you can avoid the situation in the future. Every relationship is a learning experience, after all, and you can apply your new skills to those relationships in your life that can still be salvaged.
Dealing with someone who always blames you for everything can be emotionally exhausting, so it’s in your best interest to deal with the issue as soon as possible. Be empathetic and kind to whatever degree that is possible, but don’t let yourself become a doormat. Fix the relationships that can be fixed and put yourself in a safe position if you can’t salvage the others. You don’t have to suffer simply because another person has decided to make you responsible for his or her life.