The (Illusory) Power of, "Iím Right, Youíre an Idiot" Itís easy to point the finger, but thatís not going to solve the problem. Here's why and how itís best to work out tough situations together. BY DR. NOELLE NELSON
Finger pointing might feel good, but it's not going to solve any problems.
“ Blame is an ego-drug, making you feel superior and better than anyone and everyone.”
There you are, flat on your back under the kitchen sink, trying valiantly to repair the plumbing as it drips cold water all over your face and you cry out to your spouse, "Would you hand me the wrench please?"
Your beloved nonchalantly ambles over, munching on a chip and asks, "What wrench?"
"The wrench," you say, exasperated, "The only wrench we have!"
"Oh, that wrench," your spouse says. "I lent it to your brother a couple of weeks ago."
"You what!" you say, banging your head as you move too quickly out of your watery hole, "My brother? The one who never returns things or returns them trashed?"
You then proceed to berate your supposed sweetheart for a good 20 minutes, following him/her about the house to do so, for the stupidity in not only lending the wrench without telling you, but failing to get it back when your spouse knew perfectly well you had "fix leaky plumbing" on your to-do list this week. Your blaming session evolves into an "and not only that" tirade in which you remind your spouse of all the other things you haven't been able to accomplish because of their ineptitude.
Meanwhile, with the sink still leaking, you are no closer to that wrench and your spouse has fled to the bedroom, or to the park with a dog that doesnít need another walk, or to anywhere else out of your presence.
Ah, the satisfactory roar of, "Iím right, youíre an idiot!"
Blame has tremendous poweróat least it feels that way. Blame can make you feel good about yourself as you rail against the people or situations that seem to prevent you from reaching your goals or doing what you want. Blame makes you feel righteous. You were doing everything right, and if everybody else (spouse and brother) would just go along with your program, everything would be just fine. Blame is an ego-drug, making you feel superior and better than anyone and everyone. But in the process, blame marches you steadily away from your goals, stopping your forward progress dead in its tracks. Because while you're busy blaming, you're not out there solving the problem. And the problem doesn't just sit. It usually gets worse.
So why do we do it? Because it feels good! It's as simple as that. In the moment, it feels so ego-rewarding to be righteous, especially when you are right! Your mate shouldn't have lent the wrench without telling you and your brother should be more respectful of your things. But meanwhile, the plumbing isn't fixed. What to do? How do avoid taking blameís cheap hit?
1. Accept the new situation. You don't have a wrench. Accept it. Why you don't have a wrench and whose fault it is, is irrelevant at the moment. Tell your ego to stay out of it. Send your mate out for a wrench or go get one from the store or a neighbor. Whichever is easiest.
2. Don't seek to blame. Deal with what you consider your spouseís ill-advised loan of the wrench as a new and different problem to solve, not as an opportunity to blame. In other words, once the leaky plumbing is fixed, discuss the situation with your beloved. "Not having a wrench made it difficult for me to get the plumbing fixed. How can we work it out so this sort of thing doesn't happen again? What can we do here?"
Your ego won't be as glorified, but chances are you will work successfully through the problem and come to a new understanding with your spouse. No blame. Just a situation to work out together with mutual respect and cooperation.