Thursday, March 17, 2011


A parent comes in to counseling and complains that their teenager shuts them out,and doesn't respond well when they approach to discuss problems. The parent is convinced that it is 100% the teen's fault they are not close.That's just how teens are,they say.

A married adult comes in blaming their partner for not meeting their needs, the relationship getting stale,and them feeling disengaged. If only their partner was more fit/worked at a better job/ a better conversationalist/more sexual/more fun/etc. They recognize they are no longer "in love", and are passively waiting to see if their partner fixes things enough for them to stay.They get a false sense of power from hanging out in ambivalence.

An adult whines about their job and their boss, but does nothing to try to improve the situation.They badmouth their supervisor and the company, but don't take responsibility for finding solutions,or finding another job or a career that is a better fit.They rationalize that they can't be expected to give much to their family, because they are so stressed out or unhappy with work.

What is the common denominator in each of these scenarios? Each time we have a person stuck playing the blame game,and assigning 100% of the blame to the OTHER person.It is almost impossible to move a situation forward in a constructive way or improve a relationship when people are stuck in blame.It prevents people from considering some key things:

~What could I do differently?

~How am I contributing to this problem with my attitude and my behavior?

~Can I put aside my ego and ASK for honest feedback on what I can do better with my teenager,my marriage,or my job?

~If I get feedback, can I listen with my heart,and not dismiss the feedback to protect my pride?

~Is it a comfortable bad habit for me to project my insecurities,frustrations,and dissatisfactions on a person,relationship, or job?

~ What AM I DOING that undermines this marriage,relationship,or job? Do I use poor timing or approach in talking with my teenager about problems? Am I undermining my own marriage by texting past or potential partners,or doing other disloyal,secretive behavior? Do I do nurturing,loving actions and behaviors for my partner that make them feel important,cherished,and valued?Do I put in poor quality work at my job and justify it somehow?

I know I have an emotionally mature person to work with when they can look past blame, and introspect with an open heart about what they contribute to any situation non-defensively.Every relationship has a dance, and by changing your own dance steps you redefine the dance.It's been said that in relationships each person may wish to get the other person to change, but we need to grow to realize that we can only change ourselves. The best relationship improvements come when each are open-minded,not rigid,and own our own baggage.This is the stuff great relationships and great lives are made of.

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