Do you know someone who always finds someone or something to blame for their problems? Our society seems to be afflicted with finger pointers and people defending their position. Personal responsibility has become a thing of the past while blame, justification, and defensiveness are more commonplace. People go to great lengths to avoid accountability and ownership when they make mistakes. Lying, manipulation, and deceit become part of their strategic plan to deny and avoid consequences for their actions. This is especially true when the stakes are high and there is much to lose. People in positions of power, status, and wealth are more susceptible to this pattern of behavior. Why do people respond this way?
Fear is a probably the biggest factor associated with this behavioral pattern. People fear losing power, wealth, status, respect, relationships, and control. Others fear being vulnerable, intimate, and facing rejection. For some, pride, insecurity, and humiliation get in the way of accepting responsibility. Lastly, people would rather not change and accepting responsibility implies a desire to change.
Many couples with relationship conflicts would also rather blame than change. They expend an inordinate amount of time and energy finding fault in each other instead of looking at their own issues. In some cases, they project their problems on to their spouse rather than admitting their own inadequacies. I experience this dynamic frequently in my practice and it creates tremendous frustration for everyone. Trying to fix your spouse often creates resistance and resentment, and rarely works.
It seems paradoxical, but the best way to bring about change in your spouse is to change your own behavior. Relationship conflicts are never entirely one person’s fault and require both parties to make changes even if one spouse has more changing to do. Most people don’t like to be told what to do or how to change, so decide to take a look at yourself and make individual changes. Even if your changes don’t elicit change in your partner, you’ll be a better person after the change and you’ll take away any excuses they might use to justify not changing. Remember that blame gives up power, but change empowers you.