Who’s To Blame? Anyone?

Our addiction to naming a cause pulls us down the path of blaming ourselves and others.

April 24, 2021

How often do you find yourself blaming another or others for something that you don’t like happening in your life? How often do you blame yourself? And what does blaming really produce?  

We human beings are strongly pulled to blame someone or something for “bad” things that we experience, such as upset, anger and disappointment. And we’re especially prone to blame those who are closest to us – both physically and relationally – such as our partner. 

Generally, blaming is designating someone or something as the cause of our experience of something happening. It could be said that we are addicted to our need to designate a cause, as evidenced by the often-asked question “Why...?” and the response “Because…” Our addiction to naming a cause pulls us down the path of blaming ourselves and others.

In relationships, determining what caused something is fraught with mischief. No two people can have exactly the same point of view, so it’s unlikely that the two of you will always fully agree on the cause(s) of your experiences. 

You might blame your partner for your feeling angry, arguing that your anger was caused by your partner’s tone of voice. But was that the “real” cause? What caused your partner’s tone of voice? Could it have been something you said or failed to say? Could it have been a phone call he/she received a bit earlier? Could it have been a fear that he/she was feeling or a thought he/she had? And what caused that?

If you thought that the cause was a phone call, was it the person, the subject, or the mood of the call? If you decided that the cause was fear, was it about a sickness, a family member, something at work? If you decided that it must have been what he/she was thinking about, was it family, finances or a future trip? What started it all? What was the “real” cause?

There are many things that happen just before and just after everything that happens. In all those happenings, we assign causes and effects based on our point of view – and when we decide to stop looking for “the real cause.” Since each of us sees things from our own point of view, “what-causes-what” is always up for argument. 

”Cause” is ultimately an assertion, a statement of our point of view that we often unconsciously express as a fact. Blaming your partner or yourself for causing your “bad” experience is not, in the final analysis, based on facts – and it certainly is not productive. 

But what about responsibility? We’ll tackle that in our next newsletter. 


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