Why do so many couples keep score or focus on each other’s flaws? Maybe because it allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own issues. Whether it’s your spouse, a family member, or friend, keeping score only perpetuates frustration and resentment. Too many people expend too much time and energy identifying others’ imperfections which actually creates a sense of helplessness and powerlessness. Unfortunately, our leaders, culture, and society model this behavior of blame over acknowledgment. We tend to justify or defend our position even when we know that it’s wrong. Some of us even become passive-aggressive as a means to retaliate when we feel wronged.
Keeping score, blaming others, or responding with passive-aggressiveness doesn’t work. These strategies are ineffective and only create more distance and conflict. Some individuals prefer blame because it’s easier and doesn’t require taking personal responsibility or making changes. Blame also enables some people to justify their own actions and feel better about themselves. Sadly, misery loves company and focusing on others’ shortcomings sometimes is all a person has to boost their own ego. Maybe you know all this and you’ve tried to communicate more directly to no avail. It can be very difficult not to focus on others’ behaviors and issues, but ultimately we can only control ourselves. The decision to focus on changing yourself is more empowering and increases the probability of success even if the choice is to ultimately terminate the relationship. How can focus on changing ourselves?
We can focus on becoming a better person through our words and actions. Taking ownership for our behaviors, apologizing when appropriate, and seeking to respond differently in the future are good places to start. Reflect on your behaviors and ways you might alienate others and commit to making a change. Identify positive traits in the people you love and respect and tell them about it. Decide to forgive others and yourself instead of remaining stuck in the past. Lastly, value and appreciate the people in your life rather than focusing on what is missing. The best way to change others is by changing yourself!