"Blaming": dishing out responsibility for what has happened in order to disengage your ability to problem-solve.
When the situation is "someone else's fault", then there's little reason to do anything further about it, let alone seek to understand the role that one's own behaviour, feelings or assumptions might have played in bringing about the problem.
Blame is pretty much a dead end cognitively, and the cue for a host of destructive emotions, such as resentment, bitterness, anger and hatred.
Often blaming others is a defensive manoeuvre for people who are unable to tolerate the possibility thaty they might be at fault in some way.
The fear of being flawed comes about as a result of a distorted sense of how bad it would be to be less than perfect. Scratch the surface of someone inclined to blame others and you will often unearth dysfunctional assumptions, such as "I must be perfect and good at all times or people will hate me", or "If I am not perfect then I am useless and unworthy".
Techniques for 'un-distortion'
Robert Leahy has suggested a number of techniques to challenge blaming:
- Rate the degree of your belief and identify and rate your emotions.
- Identify exactly what your statement or thought is — for example, "This is entirely [his or her] fault."
- Conduct a cost-benefit analysis:
a. Do you think that blaming others will motivate them to try harder?
b. Does blaming them protect you in some way?
c. Do you thin blaming others is "realistic"?
d. What thoughts, feelings and behaviour change if you blamed others less?
- Examine evidence for and against your blaming statement.
- What is the quality of the evidence that supports your belief that others are at fault?
- What cognitive distortions are you using to support your belief? Are you overgeneralising, mind reading, personalising, discounting positives, using negative filters, labelling, catastrophising or using "should" statements?
- If you look at their behaviour along a continuum, is it really as bad as it seems to you?
- Even if this person did this negative thing, wha are some rewarding behavours that you can still experience?
- How could you prove that your thought (i.e., "They are entirely to blame") is wrong? Is it testable?
- Using a 'pie-chart', distribute the possible causes for this event. To what degree was the outcome due to things about you, others or the situation?
- What variations do you see in their behaviour? Do they always behave this way?
- What were your intentions? Are you sure about your belief regarding their intentions? How could you know their intentions?
- What information were they using? What information did you have?
- Distinguish between criticising others and requesting a change in thier behaviour. What behaviour could they improve? What could you all learn? What could you and they do differently in the future?
- Do you label people in all-or-nothing terms when they don't live up to your rigid rules? What is the consequence of this labelling?
- Would everyone see it this way? Why not?
- What if we made your belief an universal rule for everyone: that is, everyone should be blamed severely for this behaviour? What would be the consequence?
- Does your "should" rule treat people in a morally humane and dignified way? Or are they aimed at condemning and criticising people?
- Does your "should" rule come from any religious, moral or legal beliefs? Specify exactly where you learned this rule. Is this rule possibly a misperception of what was taught or written?
- If you really loved someone or cared about him or her, would you apply this "should" rule to them? Why? Is there some reason why you would use this rule for some people but not for others?
- What if you replaced your "should" rule with the statement that you might prefer something to be true? What if you were less extremein your statement? or example, what if, rather than saying: "I should be perfect", you were to say "I'd prefer doing well"? Try restating all of your "should" rules in terms of less extreme preferences.
- What are the costs and benefits of this new preference that is less extreme?
- List a range of preferences, from 0% to 100%. Waht do most people think is sufficient or adequate in regard to the behaviour we are discussing?