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Fixing Blame & Nurturing Resentments  

I love to cook, but I don't enjoy making pancakes. I can cook all sorts
of pasta dishes. I enjoy playing with exotic vegetables, but pancakes
are irritating. My wife does them.
One day I was stacking pancakes and thinking about fixing blame and
nurturing resentments. It dawned on me that blame is kind of like a
single pancake. If you're smart you eat it and get done with it.
Resentment on the other hand is like keeping a stack of pancakes
around. We take the individual events that we blame people for and then
stack them. Every time we add another flapjack to the pile the
resentment grows. Stacked resentment is how we build those lists of
items that we resent about people.
Blame is a character flaw that can be saved, transformed and recycled.
It turns quickly into resentment. When you act out on blame and
resentment, trying to pay back the other person, you experience or
create vengeance.
In my upcoming book, Flawless! I discuss a lithograph hanging in my
writing studio. It shows Yama-Saburo, a young samurai going off to
avenge the death of his father. Most societies have myths that describe
the avenging of an injustice as duty. For Yama-Saburo, who's father had
been unjustly murdered, it was his duty to avenge the death.
For most of us, blame, resentment and the eventual vengence are
character flaws.
If payback is a b... is blame really useful?
You bet it is. Blame is a way of holding people accountable. Everyone
uses it, and very often it is appropriate. What makes it a character
flaw is when it is used to avoid punishment for something we have done
because we fear punishment. It is a flaw when we use it to hurt others
because we want to avoid accountability. Often it is worse than that.
We use the flaw to feel superior.
How about those people who beg forgiveness when they do something wrong
and yet criticize and punish others for the same offenses, don't they
just frost you? They are never the blame for anything. Blame surfaces
anytime you have adolescent thinking. Of course they never grew up
either.
A colleague of mine at NYU used to say that adolescence should be a
diagnosis, especially if you are an adult acting like one. It should
have a special name like adult adolescent thinking disorder. They
justifying what they did wrong by blaming someone else. They don't
want responsibility when things go wrong, yet they always seek
recognition when things go right. Blame is a way for them to salvage
self-esteem because they only feel good when things go right. "It's not
my fault," is one of their mantras. Being at fault feel threatening and
dangerous, perhaps because at some time in the past it actually was.
What causes blame?
There must be some sort of universal desire to be innocent. Just watch
people who are accused of wrong doing but aren't adult enough to be able
to accept responsibility for their actions. For some it is easier to be
angry at someone else rather than oneself so they create resentment and
ill-will through blame. That gets the ball rolling. If they are good
at blame people will believe them. They feel relieved and it's easier
to do next time.
"Judge not and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you shall not
be condemned."
Blamers desperately try to avoid being judged and will judge you so that
you don't judge them. These are the people who go on the offensive to
take the heat off themselves. If the person is cleaver he will get you
to judge yourself or someone else, and in the process sidetrack you from
judging him.
One method for doing this is to whine and complain about how
incompetent he was. The two universal excuses is I am not competent by
nature or you didn't train me properly. I'll cover that in greater
detail when we cover inadequacy.
How about people who blame because they are addicted to praise. People
who suffer from Self-regard Run Riot often use blame when they are
getting their fix of praise.
"Stackers"
Now back to those pancakes. There are some people who are really good
at stacking resentment. I call them "stackers." They love to use their
great memories to remember all the times that you were at fault. They
keep an inventory for you. Interestingly enough all the pain and
resentment in the stack flows together, but the emotional experience
winds up being the worse pain of the whole bunch. When a stacker needs
you to feel their pain and feel guilty they dredge up the old pain.
"Thar she blows," Moby Dick by Melville.
She really blew her stack! You know it when you see it. Stacked
resentments are used as an excuse for Raging indignation. It is almost
always a minor event that triggers a major explosion. Worse yet it's
not you who did anything, but someone else and they resent you too, so
they vomit their venom on you because you were convenient.
These blamers usually grew up in an environment that was punishing and
not geared toward solutions. The grew up in the households devoid of
hope and joy, but filled with despair and blame. It may have protected
them as children, but blame robs them of their joy in their adult lives.

Because blamers are vengeful they often harm themselves when it
backfires. Vengeance is like that. They are trying to fix the blame
and not the problem. They wind up creating bigger problems.
They weren't looking for a solution, they were looking for a scapegoat.
Blame needs a scapegoat, because his goal is praise even when he has
failed at something. They are not looking for solutions, but ways of
handling being a victim and dealing with the rejection that thing being
wrong brings. They really enjoy scapegoating because blamers gloat over
failure when they can blame someone for it.
The character defect of blame develops into chronic resentment almost
imperceptibly. It just sort of happens. We don't notice where it
began, because we are in denial that we use it. That is why it is so
important to look at what the resentment represents.
How do you tell if it is the present situation or something deeper?
It may look like little issues trigger resentments. The amount of
energy expended is a clue, however, that it's something bigger, usually
from a person's past.
Blame is the great mirror to the soul. The life energy is in a gordion
knot. Watch what a person is constantly blaming others for and you will
get a glimpse of what his life's energy is consumed with.
Next time I'll be back with how resentments are used, followed by an
article on responsibility. We don't have a lot of accountability in our
society. It's high time we started practicing it.
I don't blame you. I want to fix the problem, not the blame.

 

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