What do you generally do when someone blames you for his or her feelings?
For example, when they say things like:
“You haven’t called me in weeks. You don’t care about me!”
“Your attitude about this is really pissing me off.”
“I get so angry when I see you talking to him.”
“I hate it when you go out with your friends and don’t invite me. It’s like you don’t want me around.”
“You’re late and I’ve been sick with worry for hours!”
When your partner, friend or family member says these kinds of things to you, do you find yourself taking it personally and blaming yourself, even when you know you haven’t actually done anything wrong?
Do you cringe, feel guilty, rush to apologize and vow to make things better at any cost?
Do you get so embarrassed or ashamed that your stomach churns and you can’t seem to relax until you can find a way to make this person feel better?
Maybe the unpleasant feelings linger—lasting for weeks sometimes—and no amount of self-deprecation seems to help you find peace with yourself.
You wish you could lighten up when things like this happen. Not let it get to you so much.
You hate yourself when others blame you for their unhappiness.
Can you relate? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. I hear from many people who also struggle to find inner peace because they believe they are responsible for someone else’s painful feelings.What Your Feelings Mean
Melinda wrote me to say that she struggles because of her partner’s jealousy.
“How do I take loving care of myself when my partner is acting out with jealousy that he is not acknowledging? I feel blamed and shamed. It somehow feels like there’s something wrong with me, or something I’m doing even though there isn’t. What do I do with the shame? How do I love myself through it? His reaction can last a few hours or even a few days.”
Melinda’s partner’s blaming and shaming of her are his ways of avoiding responsibility for his own feelings. By shifting the focus onto her, he gets to turn a blind eye to the unresolved issues inside of him.
But Melinda is not off the hook, because the real question is:
Why is Melinda taking on the blame and shame? Why is she taking his behavior personally?
Taking his behavior personally is Melinda’s way of covering over the true core pain of his unloving behavior toward her. He is acting unloving toward her, but instead of feeling heartbroken, she is feeling shame. Shame is what she is using to not accept the fact of her helplessness over him or his unloving behavior.
She’s using shame as a way to gain control over her boyfriend and over her painful feelings of loneliness, heartbreak and helplessness over him when he is unloving toward her.
Shame can be a coverup for other, more painful feelings we don’t want to acknowledge.
Just as her partner isn’t acknowledging his insecurity and resulting jealousy, Melinda isn’t acknowledging her loneliness, heartbreak and helplessness over him when he is unloving toward her
In the same way, whenever someone blames you for something you didn’t intend, or that wasn’t your fault, you may be using shame as a way to cover up your core painful feelings: heartbreak, sadness, grief, outrage, helplessness, or loneliness.
Your mother blames you for not calling? You feel shame instead of feeling sadness over the fact that you and she no longer have a close relationship.
Your partner blames you for making them worried or anxious? You feel shame instead of feeling heartbreak that he or she didn’t think to inquire what happened that made you late.
Your friend is angry at you for calling her out on her snide comment? You feel shame instead of feeling outraged because her unloving words cut you to the bone.
Nobody wins at the blame game.
In clinging to shame, you’re attempting to “control” the other person’s reaction to you.
We can’t control what others are feeling, nor can we “make” them feel a certain way, even when they are blaming us for their painful feelings.
The only person we can control is ourselves.
And that starts with taking full responsibility for our feelings—all of them—and allowing others to take full responsibility for theirs.
That is the definition of NOT taking things personally!
If you want to feel more at peace with yourself, you need to take responsibility for managing your difficult and painful feelings by accessing your inner wisdom.
You need to learn to love yourself through your painful feelings, not avoid them with shame.
Most of us aren’t taught why we suffer from painful feelings, have negative self-talk, or why we don’t love or honor ourselves. We simply don’t know where all of this comes from.
Our parents or caregivers likely didn’t teach us, nor did the media, school or our friends growing up. We do what we see most people do— we blame our circumstances for why we feel angry, or depressed, or unfulfilled.
Or, we perpetuate our pain by blaming ourselves, by telling ourselves we’re “bad” or “unworthy” or broken somehow. We believe we’re lazy, selfish, unfocused, weak, undisciplined, or any manner of derogatory traits, any of which explain why we can’t do what we want to do, or be the person we wish we could be.
The truth is that most of our painful feelings stem from hundreds of false beliefs that reside in the lower, unconscious part of our brain - our ego wounded self. These false beliefs govern our lives and block our ability to manifest what we really want in life. These false beliefs were programmed in our mind by the way that we were treated growing up, or from what we observed from our parents or caregivers and the way they treated themselves.
There is a way to love yourself through your painful feelings, and let go of the false beliefs that are blocking your peace of mind.
It’s through a process I call Inner Bonding.
I co-developed this process with my friend and fellow therapist, Dr. Erika Chopich, in 1984. Inner Bonding is a 6-step process that helps you heal from painful feelings and self-deprecation, become aware and mindful of the destructive false beliefs running your life, and take appropriate, loving steps to be more loving to yourself.
When you do the Inner Bonding process instead of taking on blame or feeling responsible for someone else’s painful feelings, you liberate yourself.
You liberate yourself from being dependent on others’ happiness and approval. You free yourself from making their pain your pain.
You become more mindful of what you are feeling, and you begin to pay attention to what those feelings mean in the context of what is happening in your life.
You evaluate the validity of the beliefs you’ve taken for granted about yourself and your relationships with other people your entire life. You recognize that inner conflict arises when there’s a disparity between what you feel in your gut you should do, versus what you believe or think you should do.
That’s how you beat the blame game.
And now, you can learn all about this 6-step process and practice it in “real-time” using the self-reflection exercises in my eBook, Thriving At Last.Be More Self-Loving
Remember, you are responsible for your own painful feelings, and others are responsible for theirs. Even when they try to blame you, even if it was your fault or your carelessness, they are still responsible for their own feelings, and you for yours.