We all know that relationship drama is rarely one person's fault. It's time to take responsibility.
When things go "wrong" in our relationships, it's very human to want to assign blame. And in the vast majority of cases, we are blaming our partner.
By making the problems and drama in our relationship our partner's fault, we then have a means of understanding what has happened so that we can move forward. And who doesn't feel better "knowing" the cause—especially if it's someone else!
While assigning blame helps us feel better, at least in the immediate short term, it also prevents us from seeing what we personally contributed to the situation. After all, as long as it's someone else's fault, how can we empathize and have compassion for others?
The reality and truth that we don’t necessarily want to see, much less acknowledge, is that there are two people in a relationship, and the success or failure of a relationship does not rest entirely with just one person.
BOTH people are responsible for making the relationship work, and meeting each other's needs, and BOTH people contribute to the dynamics of the relationship being what they are.
If each partner is unwilling to acknowledge this fundamental reality, how can you possibly prevent the problem arising again in the future? This is why drama always seems to find the same people.
Blaming and judging others leads to "The Magnifying Glass Effect." This is where we get really busy focusing on other people's shortcomings—and the more we look, the more we notice. What a fabulous way to avoid looking at ourselves!
We all know that situations are rarely just one person's fault. Even where one person is "in the wrong" the "wronged" person will have done something—perhaps they ignored or allowed behaviors, gave off signals that were misunderstood, or perhaps they themselves misinterpreted or over-reacted to something.
It's only as we learn to take responsibility for ourselves, our lives, and our feelings that the unnecessary drama that is experienced in our relationships is then avoided. As a result, our relationships become much more manageable and fulfilling.
So, when you feel tempted to start blaming or judging your partner (or others for that matter), then you know it is time to pick up the mirror, and ask yourself some hard, revealing questions such as:
- How did I contribute to this situation? Where can I see that something I did or did not do made the situation worse for myself and for my partner?
- If I were to relive the situation as someone who takes FULL responsibility for my actions and feelings, what would I notice?
- What signals could I have given to my partner (either explicitly or implicitly) that contributed to the situation?
- Where could I be more forgiving and understanding?
- What can I do differently next time?
This isn't about blaming ourselves either—it's about taking an honest look at what actually happened, seeing the truth for what it actually is, and owning our part in it. Not to then blame or judge ourselves, but to learn and grow.
In life we cannot avoid other people doing things that hurt, endanger, or upset us. But when we blame others, we isolate ourselves. We leave no room for empathy, compassion, and understanding which just reinforces the inner judge inside each of us.
So, I challenge each of you, to challenge yourselves, by engaging in this process. Because when we focus on ourselves, the role we play in the relationship dynamic, and then take responsibility for our part in the drama, we are then able to truly learn from our experiences, and grow in wisdom, kindness, and compassion.