Thursday, January 3, 2013

Breaking Free of Negativity - The Blame Game

Breaking Free of Negativity
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Pitfall - Playing the Blame Game
The blame game is like The Song That Never Ends: yes, it goes on and on, my friend. Naturally I want to be innocent when I encounter a problem. Blaming others lets me walk away guiltless. My instinct is to let my inner protector blame others for a situation rather than let my inner critic pick at my conscience. However, when I deny my fault in a situation, I communicate to others that I am  perfect and do not need to modify my behavior. Giving all the blame to others stunts my growth and hinders finding a solution.

When I admit that I have made a mistake, I have an opportunity for learning and growth. I allow myself to see a weakness and turn it into a strength. Denying problems doesn’t lead to growth.

When I blame others I draw the line of opposition between me and others. Solutions are hard to find when the room is filled with Cold War hostilities. When I accept my part of the situation, I draw the line of opposition between my team and the problem. I would much rather have a team working together tackling a problem than feeling lonely and overwhelmed trying to solve the problem by myself.

Antidote - Have a Piece of Pie 

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No, I am not recommending emotional eating. When you find yourself in a corner with the world attacking you, remind yourself that problems are divided like pies. Pies are meant to be shared and not eaten by just one person. The same applies to fault. Take your piece of pie and focus on improving your part. You don’t have to stress about the rest of the pie. It will get eaten, don’t worry.

Dr. Rick Hanson has some tips that will help you eat your own slice of pie. His post Hush the Inner Critic provides discrete steps for using your inner protector to help put your inner critic in perspective:

  1. Remember the feeling of being cared for by someone in your life.
  2. Bring to mind several of your good qualities based on fact not on flattery.
  3. Acknowledge the facts of your error. Be open and honest. Allow yourself to note facts that are difficult or hurt.
  4. Sort the facts into three categories: moral faults, unskillfulness, and everything else.
  5. In an honest way, take responsibility for your moral faults and unskillfulness. Acknowledge that you are not responsible for everything else. Say the following: I am responsible for ______ , _______ , and _______ . But I am not responsible for ______ , _______ , and _______ .
  6. Acknowledge what you have already done to remedy the situation.
  7. Decide if there is anything else that needs to be done to repair the situation.
  8. Actively forgive yourself. Then say: I forgive myself for ______ , _______ , and _______ . I have taken responsibility and done what I could to make things better.
These steps for forgiving yourself can also be applied to forgiving others. I have found that clear communication can help me understand the situation better and work toward a solution rather than getting stuck playing the blame game. Here are my favorite communication strategies for dealing with interpersonal challenges:

Listening Session
Instead of telling your communication partner what is wrong or how it should be solved, listen first. To keep your communication partner from feeling attacked, let them decide when to have the listening session and be sure to let them know your intention is to really understand their perspective. During the listening session your job is to actively listen.

Straight Talk
Straight talk is a strategy recommended in the LDS Resources on Marriage pamphlet: Improving Communication. The purpose of straight talk is to find solutions and build intimacy.
  1. Share your self awareness by stating your sensations, interpretations, feelings, and actions.
  2. Understand the issue by inviting your communication partner to share their self awareness.
  3. Speak for yourself. Avoid speaking for your communication partner. (e.g. “That’s not what you really meant,” or “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”) Avoid speaking for no one. (e.g. “One might assume,” or “A lot of people like chopped liver.”)
 What strategies do you use to identify when you are blaming others?

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