BlogThe Blaming of You

July 17, 2012by Frank Love10

Do you blame your partner when things don’t go your way? Does he/she do the same to you? Is blame inevitable? Maybe. But you can do something about it … before it causes big trouble in your romantic partnership.

Regular Frank Love readers know that I promote acceptance and flexibility in relationships … even when dealing with those who are not accepting and flexible. I recently read an interesting article by Lauren Bryant called “The Blame Game,” which details the work of Mark Alicke, a psychologist from Ohio University. Alicke believes that to blame is human. I agree. According to the article, he also believes that “forgiveness just isn’t natural, the way placing blame is.” This is a guy after my own heart … not because I completely agree with him, but because he is thinking, expressing and questioning some of our fundamental inner-workings.

But here is where Alicke and I disagree. He believes that “it’s nearly impossible to correct for our own personal biases.” I think it’s difficult, but not impossible. It just takes practice, which starts with identifying a bias. When you find yourself thinking harsh thoughts about someone, or being lured into a round of the blame game, simply stop and question your motives. Ask yourself: Is this really true? What are my reasons for reaching this conclusion? Is my conclusion based purely on fact, or on preconceived notions about the person or people like him/her? And most importantly, what do I get out of believing this thought? You may be surprised (and humbled) by what you discover.

This type of self-examination requires serious, conscious effort, because it means tapping into and correcting powerful, subconscious thoughts. Consider the following experiment: Alicke and his colleagues told two groups of test subjects that a young man had a car accident while rushing home, and that because the stop sign was obscured, the details of the accident were unclear. One group was told that the driver was rushing home to hide a gift for his parents. The other group heard that he was hiding cocaine. Not surprisingly, those who heard the latter were more likely to blame him for the accident, while those who believed he was hiding a present were more likely to blame the obscured sign.

But if the participants in this study were honest with themselves, the most reasonable conclusion would seemingly have been, “I don’t know what happened.” The ambiguity caused by the sign’s obstruction was reason enough to doubt any concrete conclusion. However, many of us are not comfortable saying “I don’t know” and leaving the matter alone. We want closure, and that often means blaming someone. The problem is that we rarely have all the information about what other people do and think, so we rely on our biases, not fact, when assigning blame.

As Bryant writes in her article:

In most situations, it’s just not possible to say with certainty whether a person intended to do wrong or played a causal role in an outcome. [But Alicke says that] “when we make such judgments, those judgments are very much influenced by our other kinds of evaluation.”

No matter the context, blaming involves a morally charged evaluation—we deem someone or something bad or wrong. 

So, as you take a look at the level of harshness with which you levy judgment on others (especially your partner), consider what lens you are looking through (e.g., your bias). Conditioning yourself not to do the natural thing – play the blame game – goes a long way towards making you a more Powerful Person in a Partnership.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love



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  • Maisha Hyman Sumbry

    June 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Very thought-provoking, indeed. I’ve served on a number of juries and the jury would often become deadlocked based on peoples’ biases – not on the facts provided by the court. There have been a couple of times where I’ve FELT that a person was guilty as sin, but because the evidence was not there, I could not judge as such.

    Taking this approach in relationships could be really healthy and liberating! Imagine not feeling the need to blame anyone for anything – only holding yourself accountable for your own actions.


  • Marie P.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    The First Catch of the Day

    Wayne Dyer, contemporary spiritual writer and (according to Mind Body Spirit Magazine) the third most spiritually influential person living today, tells us that OUR SUBCONSCIOUS MIND MOVES 96% OF WHAT WE DO.

    As Dyer notes, the subconscious mind is THE Power House in charge of our lives.

    And we are, for the most part, unaware of what is going on in Control Central.

    The patterns of behavior lodged in our subconscious are sourced from many different experiences we have encountered including VERY stressful episodes laden with unhealed pain.

    And, resourceful creatures that we are, we have succeeded in learning how to protect ourselves from feeling that unhealed pain by shutting ourselves off from authentically experiencing…and acknowledging…the impact of any moment which threatens to resurrect it. Instead, we choose limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world in which we live.

    And so we move through life relying all too often on those default buttons.

    And, yes, they keep the original pain away…but they invite a different kind of suffering…they block us from experiencing our full potential and the evolution of our personal growth.

    Now that we know who’s steering our ship, it’s time to appoint a new captain.
    And that captain is the beautiful state of our consciousness.

    Our consciousness… which can decide what we NOW want to include in our modus operandi.

    To place this process into motion we first need to learn to recognize and CATCH ourselves buzzing that original default button. And, when we do, it is important to non-judgmentally take note of this. And I suggest we have some fun as we go about this process. Celebrate our “first catch of the day” and every other catch to follow.

    Next, we need to reprogram ourselves with a new choice of response by consciously making a statement to ourselves about the way we would like to experience the moment.

    For example,

    First, we recognize and acknowledge our old response.

    Old default: when something goes wrong…
    “These things never work out for me.”

    Then, we program in a new mantra.

    New choice:
    “When I relax and give up control of how to do something I invite
    the Divine Universe in and let the experience LEAD ME.”

    Neville Goddard, a New Thought lecturer of the mid 20th century, has this to say about what we are choosing to aspire to when we perform this process:

    “If this assumption is persisted in until it becomes your dominant feeling, the attainment of your ideal is inevitable.”

    That’s a really encouraging thought…very profound…and actually easy to do ONCE we have made a commitment to steer our ship in a new direction…one that we have consciously chosen for our life instead of an old, coping (and hiding) maneuver that has helped us wade through murky waters but has kept us from the joy of stepping up and choosing a path for our soul’s evolution.

    Dyer gives us a simple but so powerful admonition:
    Our subconscious mind responds to what it is we suggest to it.

    But, remember…we first have to be aware of the limiting beliefs that automatically come up for us as we go through our day.

    Why not truly and fully engage in performing this process…savor and celebrate this fishing expedition? Catch yourself wading in old waters and bring in a fresh, new wave of what you truly aspire to be!

    Aye, aye, Captain…and, by the way, that’s you on the Love Boat
    loving yourself enough to be the Grandest, most Beautiful Version of Who You Aspire to Be!


  • Julie

    June 19, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I find blame to be so powerful that it overrides most common sense. Here is an article on our blog that too addresses this problem. http://howtofixmymarriage.com/?s=blame.
    Seems to be a hot topic right now!


  • Alan Allard

    June 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Taking the stance of “I don’t know” would stop much judging and blaming. Too often we are quick to assume the worst about others motives and behaviors. Yet, we are almost always willing to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

    Taking the time to question our rush to judgement would prevent a lot of unnecessary conflict and pain.


  • Kelly K.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Then a gain we could look at the situation and say; What about me that needs ‘that’ in my life. An interesting way to turn back to the accuser.


  • Wynell L, BA, MHC

    June 21, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    I like your thought process! I often say that when we point our finger, we have 3 pointing back at us;) Look inward-perhaps it is a pattern of a previous partnership.


  • Dr. Glen

    June 21, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Great thesis. This is a substantive commentary.


  • Jan B

    June 23, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    Was it Jung who said, whatever traits we dislike in the other, are probably a reflection of our own?


  • Dr. Richard E. S.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    Although this variant of psychoanalytic thinking is often attributed to Freud (projection) or perhaps Jung or Perls, I believe it’s origins lie in Tibetan Buddhism. Citation anyone?


  • Annie V.

    June 25, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Impulse Control and Personal Responsibility are two of the best things we can teach our children. Blaming often makes one the victim, it is difficult if not impossible to have a truly intimate and reciprocal relationship with a victim, so why go there. It is not what happens but how we respond to what happens that makes us great or emotionally healthy.


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