Consequences

My best friend sent me a link to the following video. It’s π minutes long and is worth the watch.

The video starts out with a description of a woman dropping her full cup of coffee, which shatters on the ground and splashes all over her. According to the speaker, the first thing to come out of her mount, just one millisecond after it happened, was “Damn you Steve!” She’s a blamer, she confesses, and before she even stopped to examine the situation she spun her gears to find someone to blame; in this case her husband, for coming home a little late the night before which caused her to get less sleep and need that second cup of coffee.

I too am a blamer, and I see it as an outgrowth of a subconscious need for control. That term gets thrown out a lot – well, actually it gets thrown at others a lot – but by itself it’s somewhat opaque in meaning. As I watched this animated clip about blaming, I saw just how much of a need it is for someone, like me, who also needs to have a firm understanding of what’s going on. Everything has a reason, and every action builds towards a progression of events. If something goes wrong, somebody at some point did the wrong thing.

In the video, it’s a ridiculous connection the speaker makes between her dropping her coffee and her husband coming home late, but I know that I too have made similarly outlandish claims. There’s a haze brought on by this control that clouds normal thought and makes it hard to see. Of course, any defense on the contrary, “I didn’t make you drop your coffee,” only fuels the need to prove the blame. In my case, I don’t feel like I need to extract some penance in these situations as much as I need to assert my conclusion about the sequence of events. This hasn’t gone well for me and I’d wager it hasn’t gone well for you. The more it goes on, the deeper the delusion of conflict where no conflict actually exists. You can probably recognize the paranoid end that this line of thought leads to.

Herein is the need for control: need to asses who is fault, need to conform their conclusions to my own, need to drive their responses to these situations. Blaming hardly ever goes well. And yet, from my own perspective, this usually ends up seeming harmless, even helpful. It takes a third party to point it out I think, and therein lies the value of a counselor. The counselor is disinterested in who “wins” or is “right” and can make a simple judgement based on the stories each person tells.

My counselor recently pointed out that I was doing the very thing I was accusing my wife of doing, and it was very hard to accept at the time, but as it sank in the reality came ever more clear. It’s very hard to let go of the control; of the perception that the way I see things is the right way of seeing them. It’s worth it, though, despite the humiliation it can bring, which is why its so important not to allow that sense that we have everything figured out – because it will be that much harder to admit we don’t and therefore grow from it.

I’m not writing this as any sage. Honestly, I’m going through deep self-reflection and learning these things I should have learned or confessed long ago. I hope that if you too jump on the blaming wagon, that you can get off of it before causing too much hurt to yourself and those you love.

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