Who’s Blame is it Anyway?
by Jandy Anderson
There have been plenty of times this last year where I have gotten caught in the conflict-crazed spin-cycle of the laundry machine of life.
Sometimes conflict brings out the worst in me. It can bring reactive, volatile moments where I say or do things I later regret. Sometimes, moments of conflict show me how far I have come.
But regardless of the range of experience, conflict always gives me a chance to learn. Even if only in hindsight.
To deepen this learning, there is one thing I have found to be a reliable life line for any conflict: to focus on understanding what I am contributing to the conflict. That is, to view the situation from a perspective of self-responsibility. Conflict cannot occur for me if I do not engage with it. Therefore, my task is to discover where the conflict starts inside me. Where’s my hook?
Before gaining clarity on the true cause of the conflict, most of us tend to blame. Self-blame, blame of others or blame of SOMETHING. Blame is seductive and deceptive. It lures you into believing you know the cause of the conflict. It intoxicates you with its power such that you can become quite convinced, often righteous, about where the fault lies in a given situation.
Blame is a completely different energy from self-responsibility. Blame is judgmental, destructive and manipulative. Self-responsibility is calm and clear. It is loving and light-hearted. Although the difference between these two qualities is significant, discerning between them can be challenging at times as their presentations can be subtle. One way to tell the difference between self-responsibility and blame is to look at whether or not you feel a peace with the situation. If you do not feel at peace with the situation or the conflict, you are still caught somewhere in blame. If you feel at peace, that means you have found where your self-responsibility is in the conflict; you have empowered yourself and you have understood why the conflict or the situation in general is in your life and what it is teaching you. You may feel at peace with part of the situation but not with other parts. Examine the area where you are holding on, that’s the area where there is still something to learn.
One direct way to see your blinds spots and discover your self-responsibility or your contribution to a conflict is to examine your expectations and take a look at the needs you are putting on those around you.
Consider a situation with a conflict you are experiencing and ask yourself this question: What expectations am I putting onto myself, others or this situation?
Ask courageously and be honest with yourself. You might want to write down your answers. You may find you are extending multiple expectations onto the situation, onto someone and/or onto yourself. Or there may be just one main expectation. If you are having trouble identifying the expectations, you can ask people around you what expectations they have noticed you putting on them, others or yourself. Ask them to be honest.
Once you have identified the expectations, consider what the situation would be like if you dropped the expectations. You may find it hard to imagine dropping the expectations. They may seem so justified to you that you cannot let them go or even imagine letting them go. And that in itself is a profound insight. You may be able to see how attached you are to things being a certain way; how attached you are to controlling. You may think your expectations are normal or right and you may have strong belief systems built around those expectations, holding them in place. But what you may be missing is that your expectations are like a prison around you, boxing you in and preventing you from being alive and experiencing things as they truly are. Life is constant change!
Through exploring this, you will gain insight on how you are contributing to the conflict and the path for coming out of the conflict will begin to reveal itself. You may experience freedom in exploring ways to unburden yourself by letting go of your expectations. This will be an enormous gift to yourself and those around you!
See if you can drop any expectations and needs that you are putting on people or things outside of yourself by being self-responsible and fulfilling your own needs and expectations. If you find you are mostly putting expectations on yourself, see if you can give yourself a break and accept yourself as you are. Usually no one is harder on us than we are on ourselves. Throughout this process pay careful attention to any judgements you have, especially of yourself. As soon as you start delving into judgement, you have moved away from self-responsibility.
If you notice judgements or are struggling to drop your expectations, see if you can understand why you have these judgements and expectations. If you understand why they are there, they will drop much more easily through the understanding.
In my experience so far, the process of dropping expectations has enabled me to completely transform the way I engage with conflict. It has enabled me to experience tremendous healing within my relationships with my parents, with my partner, friends, colleagues and with myself. It has transformed my experience with work and with ‘mundane’ tasks.
When I drop expectations, I feel the walls around me come down and I feel an open space of awareness where anything is possible. There, my heart has space to express itself fully. I hope this article helps you experience something similar or at least gives you some helpful insights for your own journey.
Jandy Anderson is a Dalian Method Facilitator and offers online appointments on Saturdays. Click here to book an appointment with Jandy.