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What to do when you are assailed by Blame and Resentment  

Remember the rules for relationships that I gave you in Chapter I:
Rule #1 When there is a problem in your relationship, change a
character Flaw in yourself.
Rule #2 If you discover the other person is to blame, reread rule # 1.
Here's the key to handling this flaw. Lets take a look at what to do
with the person who is possessed by this flaw and who has decided to
inflict it upon you.
Don't stir the stew
Practice acceptance
Practice accountability
Know each other's rules
Recognize what your responsibility is and what it isn't
Focus on your own behavior and character.
Forgive like you would a stranger.
Don't stir the stew. When I was a kid there was cesspool that
overflowed at our house at the Jersey shore. When it was dug up I was
overcome by curiosity. I got the longest stick I could find and then I
stirred it up a bit. Soon I was overcome by the smell. It's like that
with people who are possessed by this character flaw. You could try
debating the person who is blaming you, but most of the time it is not
about being right or wrong, it is about some other need, so why bother.
It is better to ...
Practice acceptance. Practicing acceptance requires an attitude that
says in effect, "I will try to see how the human soul is operating
through this character flaw of Blame and Resentment." The human soul
operates even when we are using defenses that seem base and crude.
Blame and Resentment implies that there is still some work to be done.
Practicing acceptance appears to be harder than it is. Sometimes all it
takes is listening for a few more minutes trying to view it from the
other person's perspective. In the long run it is the path of least
resistance and is the more spiritually correct one. Over the short haul
it is much easier to practice irritability and intolerance with
blamers. It is more exciting and dramatic to practice raging
indignation with people who inflict seething resentment.
Practice accountability. More importantly you need to set up
accountability methods that work. Before holding someone accountable
make sure you specifically define the behavior in question. Sometimes
that means a chore list for your children. Or it may mean a phone log
at work for your sales people.
Know each other's Rules. In relationships make sure that both sides
understand the rules to be followed. It sometimes is as simple as one
side believing she "must be faithful" and the other side believing he
"should be faithful." When the rules are different, the behaviors that
break the rules are different. Thus we argue and blame.
Recognize what is and isn't your responsibility. If your rules or
guidelines are set and the blame comes flying at you, stop and decide
whether it is your responsibility or not. I personally feel that the
best way to short circuit someone who blames you is to quickly accept
the responsibility for your part in it. Then move on. Most of the time
the person who is not possessed by the flaw will move on. If they want
to whine and complain or continue to rant and rave, you are dealing with
a person who is stuck. They believe they have something to gain. If
not they wouldn't be stuck. Whatever it is they believe they deserve,
it probably isn't your duty to give it to them You need to move on too
but refusing to argue. A word of caution. Don't ever accept
responsibility for something you didn't do. That would be dishonest.
It may be grandiose as well or you may be setting yourself up as a
victim.
Focus on your own behavior and character. If you do have some
responsibility in the situation, focus on your own behavior and your own
character. All too often a couple will argue about something until one
of them accepts some responsibility, then the blame shifts. Now the
person tries to get the other to accept responsibility too. The implied
message is, "I'm a morally superior, enlightened, in tune and karmically
aligned dude." or, "I'm a Christian who really practices his faith. Be
like me, admit you're wrong too".
Next this modern day psycho-babbling couple blames and judges each
other. They feel morally superior and guilty at the same time. That
has to be better than just plain guilty, right? It's not better, just
more complicated. It's blame masquerading as spiritual enlightenment.
Forgive like you would a stranger. Remember what the psychiatrist in
the hospital told me, it is easier to forgive a stranger. How do you do
that with someone you have a long relationship with? First of all you
have to unstack the hurt. Focus only on the one incident that just
occurred. Unstacking the piles of garbage and focusing on the present
moment is crucial.
We forgive strangers more easily, because we try not to attribute
malicious motives to their behavior. We cut them a break in our own
minds. You need to do the same thing with someone you love. Look for a
motive that is self serving and related to fear. They wouldn't attack
if they weren't afraid of something. The people in your life who do
stupid things, and that may be everybody, need to be held accountable.
They don't need hatred or resentment. They need acceptance and
accountability.
Forgiveness has another advantage. Generally there is a thread of truth
running through your stacked hurts. Those painful incidences that are
the basis of your resentments are glued together. The glue that holds
them together is you personal power. The more resentments you have, the
more glue you are using to hold all that crap together. That means that
your personal power is being sapped with each resentment. Why bother to
change? A Flood of Prosperity & Success!
Of all the character flaws, blaming is most intimately related to the
issue of prosperity and success. More often than not when you release
the right to blame others something dramatic occurs. You become more
successful. I know it sounds strange, but I have seen it so often. The
key to greater abundance and prosperity is often held in our ability to
be accountable. The only thing standing between most of us and being
accountable is the desire to blame others. When it goes, then all the
excuses go. You've made room for abundance.
One of my patients who was an old recovering alcoholic, had an approach
to getting rid of resentments that was very practical. Treat it like
your hair. Keep cutting it back until it all falls out. I think it was
a good simile for him because he was bald. For most of us it is like
shaving. Don't you ladies feel more beautiful after your legs are
shaved?
Unless you get rid of the resentment completely, it will grow back again
and again. That's not bad or good, just human nature. So shave it when
it surfaces. And keep at it. Sometimes we gain insights that allow us
to release the resentment completely. That's a noble goal. I recommend
it, but I realize it's more likely that you will have to start over
everyday like the rest of us mere mortals.
It's also worth it to stop blaming because of what resentment does to
your future. There is a simple process that I used with some patients.
We would visualize the time line. That is a cluster of images of how
you view your past, present and future. Usually the future is in a line
running from you out to the front or off to the side. The close images
are the near future and the farther images are the distant future.
Here is what we would do. We would create forgiveness in the past and
then have it run through the time line. All the future images would get
brighter and more exciting. That's what happens to the rest of your
life when you let go of blame. It gets brighter and more exciting.
How to shave blame and unglue resentments.
I wish this was easy. It is simple to do. It just has to be done
constantly. Since character flaws are easier and more convenient than
virtues, it may take a while for you to get the hang of this. It's like
shaving. You do it quite easily now, but in the beginning it was more
complicated.
You have to work on blame and resentment every time it shows up. As
soon as you start to focus on the other person, stop and admit you're
blaming. Responsibility is the main issue. You need to focus on what
your responsibility is. Be accountable for what you have done. Focus
only on your own part in the problem, unless the other person asks you
to point out what is wrong. Then use the rule of three. I have a rule
that I use in my non professional relationships. I don't give people my
opinion of their behavior unless they ask for it. When they ask for it
three times, I give it to them.
It is better to focus on your side of the blame, and treat the other
person as blameless for the time being. That will keep you focused on
your own stuff. After all I hope your reading this for you and not so
that you can fix someone else in your life.
If you break down the release of Blame and Resentment you will find that
forgiveness is the key.
Stay with the individual incident
praise others and stop seeking approval.
focus on your own character.
practice charity and forgiveness
Every time you hear yourself whining and blaming someone for what went
wrong, step back and look at yourself. Stay with the individual episode
of resentment. Unstack the old hurts unless they are useful for
protection. Most of the time they aren't, regardless of how you try to
justify it. Take your power pack and deal with the individual episode.
That will reduce resentment to blame. It is easier to deal with blame,
because you can then focus on yourself. Next separate the person you
blamed from their behavior. Keep the "who they are" and "what they did"
separate. That will make it easier for you to deal with your blame.
Listen to the tones behind blame and resentment. As soon as you
recognize how you do it, your whining can be a trigger to praise others
and stop seeking recognition.
When I taught medical students how to interview, I would not let them
criticize their fellows. I used to make them point out what was done
right. They all knew where and how they had messed up. They needed to
know what they were doing right to get comfortable with the process. If
you are a blamer then you don't naturally point out what is going right,
but look for what is going wrong. Change that today. It will shock
your friends and associates.
Focus on your own character. Chances are you are trying to feel
righteous by holding resentment. Clearly it doesn't work, so stop
scapegoating and look for things that you can change in you. Remember,
Judge not..
Stop judging others. Practice charity or love and forgiveness. We had
a drill that we did in group. We would take the wholesome quality, in
this case Acceptance and Forgiveness which are the opposite of Blame
and Resentment. We worked on identifying so totally with the virtue
that we would not just have it, we would be it. In other words we
wouldn't seek so much to forgive as to be forgiveness itself.
In the end resentment and blame leave only when we are forgiveness,
rather than are trying to forgive. It is a great leap for some, but it
is so totally empowering that I recommend trying to be forgiveness until
you get. Even if you temporarily fail at it you will have done a lot
of forgiving.
An elderly women said to me after the funeral of her husband, "Most
resentments are worth a hill of beans in the long run. All the things I
blamed him for and resented were a waste of time." Don't wait for
someone to die to figure that out. This is a character defect that will
die if you don't nourish it. First resentment goes and then even
blame. My patient had spent a lot of her life hating some of the things
he had done. She finally got to the point where she looked at his soul
as unblemished spirit. He didn't change. Honestly, all he did was
die. She changed. She became forgiveness itself.
Most people are simply too afraid to accept responsibility for
themselves. You have to be full of humility to notice the good in
others. It takes great faith in human goodness to do that. Instead of
having faith in human goodness and being humble, we use the next
character flaw, Worry and allow it to expand into Fear.


 

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