I was thinking last night while waiting to fall asleep that I needed to counter the Guilt Carrying Post with one about the other side of that dance–The Blaming Game. Emotional fitness, what others call emotional intelligence is all about clear headed thinking. Did I tell you I am obsessive which means thinking, thinking, thinking, but not always with a clear head. Anyway, this morning my favorite “Gotta Get My Laughs” Blogger came up with this post. Synergy.
As I explained in Tuesday’s post, often the blamers are in the guilt carrier’s head. Voices from the past. My mother and her mother were given to towering rages that involved heaps of blame to whoever was around. To me that seemed always to be me.
And yes it must be genetic, because I can turn into a towering blamer–not often, and unlike my Mom and grandmother, when the anger passes I admit the error of my ways. Well, most of the time. But I digress and I always digress. That is obsessive. Anyway, I know my mother is part of the voice of blame in my head.
However, a shrink once said you marry one of your parents. Well, my “Hub,” to use Tilly Bud’s word, is a blamer. Unlike my Mom he doesn’t have temper tantrums, well, not as often as she did, but he is a constant observer of what is and most of what he observes is me and all too often is negative at least I think it is negative.
Now, here is an example of his skill at blaming: “I am not being negative, I am making an observation, You are making it a negative.”
Wouldn’t that drive you crazy? Particularly if a part of you knows it is the truth. But also if the observations is any one of the following:
- “The fish is too dry.”
- “Too much vinegar in the dressing.”
- “The hamburger is over-cooked.”
Makes it worse that another part of you married the man because he does tell it like it is. The good news is that he has taught me to say it like it is and for the most part doesn’t get upset if I tell him he needs a bath or a deodorant or is getting us lost.
Virginia Satir, a reknown family therapist, says this about blaming:
When we are blaming, we take no account of the other. It’s definitely not our fault something is amiss. The typical body stance for this would be finger pointing. …Blaming is usually made possible, because Others are placating (Guilt carriers).
Satir also said being able to say things like “You need a bath” was the hallmark of a healthy relationship. So that explains why we have been married for 42 years.
Another group of shrink thinkers are into Object Relations. Usually, I rant against them because their basic stance is to lay all our psychological ills on mothers. Big time blamers. Not only mothers, but what mothers did when their precious babies were two or three. But I find one of their ideas useful.
These shrinks named the anger the small child feels when he or she doesn’t get her way “Abandonment rage.” Anytime you hear someone complaining about abandonment you are hearing the pop psychology version of Object Relations theory. And you hear it often.
Supposedly, when a Mom made a wee one angry by not letting him walk into the street or play with knives, she was abandoning him. About as useful a theory as the one about mothers creating autism. These theorists even call the anger “Abandonment Rage.”
The underlying theory is that abandoning mothers forced the child to develop a narcissistic bubble by not being loving enough. The bubble is the child’s protection from the despair and rage that goes with abandonment. If that protective bubble gets pricked, the hurt is magnified and turns to anger.
Back to Hub. The man only gets angry about criticism direct toward him when part of him knows the criticism is not only true, but a bit of a flaw. Moreover, he was raised by very judgmental parents. When I can see that he has heard the criticism even if responding with some anger or telling me it is all in my head, I can often ignore his anger for I know it means he knows wifey is on target and when his anger fades he will admit that or make an amends.
It would be nicer if we were both more perfect, but we dance together well and so it works out to be a good-enough if not perfect relationship.
STAYING STRONG TIPS
Another theorist (I will stop being professorial after this pontification) Jerome Kagan, a leading cognitive theorist, says uncertainty drives anger, depression, and fear. He thinks the need to resolve uncertainty can compete with hunger and sex when it comes to driving human behavior.
Kagan views anger as uncertainty resolved by blaming another; depression and guilt as uncertainty resolved by blaming the self; and anxeity or fear as uncertainty that cannot be resolved and therefore makes the world more out of our control and scarier. Moreover, he believes part of how we respond to all events rests in our genes. He divides the world into the bold and the shy or inhibited.
How does all this become a staying strong tip. Know what works for me, for when I find asking myself “Who is uncertain about what?” I can deflect buying the blame. Just asking the question forces me to think, not obsessively, but in a way that checks reality.
Of course, I can’t always stay in control and then the Hub has to duck the bombs of blame I throw his way. So it goes. Do your best and it is most likely good enough even when it leads to less than acceptable behaviors.
If you know someone who will find this post useful share it. Three people will benefit. The person you shared it with, me, and you. Tilly will probably be happy also. Remember, kindness circles back to the giver, always. Thank you.