Reduce anxiety and depression by challenging common cognitive distortions

Do you find yourself in continuous conflict, arguments and disharmony in your relationships? 

You may be falling into the thinking trap of blaming.

Blaming is the single most dangerous thinking trap for our personal relationships, as it blocks us from seeing the problem: ourselves! 

When we get caught in blaming, we become narrow minded and singly focused on building a case and collecting evidence against another person. The problem, and the trap, is that we become so focused on how the other person has impacted us, that we pay no attention to how we ourselves have contributed and helped to create the mutual problem that exists. 

At our clinic, very rarely do we meet distressed couples that are not caught up in the conflict cycle of “finding the bad guy”. 

Without intervention, when couples continue with this pattern, relationships erode and trust and safety fade. 

We engage in blaming to reduce feelings of vulnerability and fear as a form of self-protection. Blaming keeps us focused on surface issues of content (dirty dishes left on the counter, overspending, etc. ) and avoid the real problems that are running beneath the surface (loneliness, disconnection, etc.)

The cycle of blaming fuels anxiety and depression because it reduces the feeling that we ourselves are not internally capable of influencing meaningful change as we expect others to change and fix things for us. 

How to snap out of the blaming trap: 

1. Remember: We can only change and control ourselves! 

Perceiving the problem as a mutual problem is one of the ways to escape this thinking trap. This means understanding, that logically, it takes at least two people reacting (or withdrawing) saying or not saying something to make the situation what it is. We have seen incredible transformations and growth in individuals and relationships when people have taken responsibility, accountability, and when necessary, demonstrated remorse.

2. Practice empathy and compassion. 

Empathy not sympathy.

Don’t feel bad or sorry for the other person. Try to understand where they are coming from. Try to see some ‘truth” or evidence to why they are right. This does not invalidate your point of view, make you wrong or make you “the bad guy”.  It makes you a sensible person that understands each situation can be looked at, felt, and experienced from an infinite amount of angles (FYI: you are both right!). Employing empathy provides a balanced perspective, enabling feelings of responsibility and cognitively understanding what you can be accountable for. Empathy allows your mind to be open to and even willing to receive feedback to better a relationship and increases positive feelings and harmony. 

Compassion. 

When we open our hearts to another person’s pain, we naturally want to alleviate what is causing this suffering. We are more likely to then see what we have done to add to this person’s pain, and genuinely are able to demonstrate our remorse to our loved ones. Our partners can feel when we are truly sorry. This is one of the most powerful, and magical gifts that you can give your relationships if you want them to heal.     

Taking the first step in a relationship towards being accountable, empathetic and compassionate is hard, and takes courage! Especially if you are in a vicious cycle of “find the bad guy”. 

If you or your relationship needs support, do not hesitate to reach out. 

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