Mad at your boss and you kick the dog? Upset at a friend and yell at your kids? Hurt by a boyfriend and drive too fast?
These are all examples of mis-directed anger and blame. Mindlessness vs. Mindfulness. I see it all over our world right now. The world needs peace right now more than ever.
In the self-help research fields, we know that blaming and complaining causes stress. Yet there is a part of us that seems to hang on to it. if something unjust happens, there has to be someone to blame. We live in a society that looks for someone else to blame… another country, another person, the economy, the list goes on. True, there are real factors and real people out there that cause havoc and there is a reason we have a justice system in place. Crimes need to be accounted for and injustices need to be taken responsibility for.
But what about the ill effects of blame? What about those little, day-to-day grievances that we get stuck on that only stir up resentment and grief. Do you go over hurtful experiences from the past? Go over what he-said, she-said? Is it helpful to stew in the blame?
This week I had a disappointment where something did not go as planned. I have been doing this long enough to know that sitting in blame is like being stuck in the mud getting nowhere. There is a process to this that moves experiences along quicker so they don’t stick like glue. All that glue gets heavy over the years! Here is what happens when you give up blame.
You notice your reaction. The impulse to finger-point. The confusion that leads to ranting. The focus on the instigator, the person causing you pain. “How could they?”
You notice your feelings. Feel them in your body. Notice the sensations. Describe them if it helps. Notice anger. I described mine to my husband as a changing combination of sadness, worry, confusion, and some fear. That’s what it felt like. See where they land.. stomach or chest? Don’t look for why. Stay here as long as necessary. Watch sensations change and get support if you need to.
You notice the story you are telling yourself. Recognize it as a story of thoughts. It might be true, or are you guessing? “They are so mean (or fill in the blank)”, “That’s crazy, ridiculous, insane”, “They must have…”.. “I’ll never…”, “He always…”. Please discern when you are exaggerating and be kind to yourself… notice what you are doing, even rant it a bit, then go to the emotional energy underneath it all that is waiting to be felt.
Give it some time. A day. Two days. A good night’s sleep. A week. Really practice self-care. Go for a walk in nature. Eat and sleep well. Chat with a friend. See what changes.
Try on their hat. After the dust has settled, go back to it and test. Is there any part of it you can understand from the other’s point of view? If not that’s ok. More importantly, can you see any part you played in it? Remember, I am not talking about crimes or abuse where there is clearly a victim and a perpetrator. But those past hurts, grievances and misunderstandings that add up over time, and there is nowhere else to go.
Take action if you now deem it necessary. Is there anything to do now? Perhaps there is a conversation, or a request for feedback that is needed. Let go of the outcome of it though.
This is the general process you will go through. At the end of it all I felt lighter, more forgiving, and had a greater understanding of many factors that are far out of my control (like most things, I guess). We cannot possibly know or predict how others will react, or why they behave the way they do sometimes. My wish for you is that you don’t spend unnecessary time in your life stuck in the spiral of blame looking for an outlet.