In relationships, it can be really hard to let go of blame. I can look true that someone else is responsible for our experience. It is assumed that certain actions automatically cause certain feelings.
Another reason it seems hard to let go of blame is the idea that if we let go of blame we are condoning the behavior.
But they don’t go together!
I can see Hitler’s psychological innocence and not condone the holocaust.
Viktor Frankel can feel goodwill and compassion for his oppressor. It doesn’t mean he agreed with the Nazi’s.
A brother of a murder victim can forgive the perpetrator while not agreeing with her actions.
But these are seen as exceptions and not the norm, but they are examples pointing to what is possible for us all.
Understanding that nothing and no one is responsible for how I feel is liberating and hopeful. It means I can never be a victim of a person or circumstance. And this doesn’t make me more likely to put myself in harm’s way. In fact, I am much less likely to find myself in difficult situations because my mind is not clouded with thoughts of blame.
I want to be clear that I am not saying that it doesn’t look to me at times like a person or circumstance is causing my experience. It does look that way sometimes. I can experience disappointment when Angus is grumpy and feel he is putting a downer on my experience. But even though it looks that way, I know it is not true. He is not to blame.
Experience comes from within. We project our reality rather than perceive an objective reality. I know this because my reality changes based on the shifting of my own state of mind. People look different depending on what mood I am in. Sometimes I have plenty of room for their frailties, feel nothing but goodwill and stay open-hearted. Other times in the face of the same behavior or less, I lose my patience. I can behave in unkind ways and become judgmental and closed off. This is not about them. This is a reflection of my state of mind.
Understanding my experience comes from the transitory thinking I am identifying with helps me to identify with my thinking less in general. As a result, I feel freer inside. I take myself less seriously and get over my upset more quickly.
I am grateful for this because I didn’t used to be this way. I lived my life as a victim thinking other people and circumstances caused my experience. The main person I held responsible for my happiness was my husband. If he did not treat me the way I wanted to be treated or if he behaved badly, I felt hurt and upset. I believed my experience was his fault.
I took no responsibility. And felt extremely justified in my judgment of him.
From this misguided perspective, the only solution for me to be happy was for him to change so that he could behave nicely all the time. Or at least enough of the time for my satisfaction. I did not see the arrogance in my position. I did not see myself as a victim. I saw myself as justified and righteous. There were certain ways he behaved that were not acceptable to me because I believed they hurt me.
Of course, looking in his direction and making him responsible for my suffering was far easier than looking at myself. My lens of judgment was too strong to focus my gaze on me. The shame of my unworthiness was all too encompassing. It was much easier to look to him to change so he could make me happy rather than feel the pain of my belief of unworthiness. It was my wisdom that had me judge him because I couldn’t withstand my self-judgment.
This might sound extreme, but I was just living out my coping mechanism. I learned to blame people and circumstances for my bad feelings because it felt better than blaming myself and living in the feeling of my own perceived inadequacies. But the downside of this pattern of blame was there was no authentic empowerment or inner freedom. I could only be at the effect of other people and conditions, but this felt better than being at the effect of my own self-judgments.
It wasn’t until years later, that I was able to see my husband’s psychological innocence in the face of his anger and poor behavior. It happened out of the blue. I didn’t work at it or try to do it. I didn’t even know it was something I was looking for. I just had a moment of compassion and saw his innocence. In my clarity, I saw his behavior was not about me. It was not personal. He was doing the best he could in the midst of his suffering. His suffering was not about me. I wasn’t the cause of it. It wasn’t my fault. He wasn’t making me feel bad.
What changed was that I wasn’t looking at him through the eyes of judgment and criticism. I had experienced a deeper place of love within myself that was beyond the ups and downs of my psychology. I had a felt knowing of my innocence and knew that translated to everyone else — even him! I no longer needed to blame him to escape my own pain. My own pain dissolved in the deeper experience of peace and love within myself. With this came the understanding that all is well. I am okay even in the face of the behavior and circumstances I previously judged. Without judgment, they had no impact on my ‘okayness.’ I felt free. Nothing and no one could take that away from me. I knew this to be true.
Even in the face of his anger and upset, I felt no emotional pain. There was no inner turmoil. All I felt was love and compassion. I experienced no blame. I was free.
Previously, I had no perspective on his behavior. I took it personally. I felt it was all about me, and I suffered.
The same situation two diametrically opposed experiences. One where I feel love and compassion. One where I feel hurt and devastated.
All that changed was that I was coming from love. I was not threatened or scared. He wasn’t able to do that to me. From a space of inner security and wellbeing, I saw more clearly that Angus and his behavior had nothing to do with my experience. He could not cause me to feel a certain way.
And you might say it would be different if he hit me. But I was hit a few years back, not by him. I was smacked in the face. It hurt physically, but I didn’t suffer. I felt crystal clear in the moment that it happened. I did remove myself from the situation, but I did not shut my heart, and I absolutely saw the psychological innocence of the person in front of me that was so distraught that that was the best thing they could think to do. I held no resentment. I loved freely. This person is still in my life and has not hit me since. My lack of judgment, outrage, and blame did not cause them to keep perpetuating the behavior. In fact, my lack of blame actually had them experience their conscience more fully. And I think it helped them learn more than if I had taken it personally and become reactive.
My point is that truly recognizing no one and no circumstance creates our experience is freeing. It is true for all of us. I wish someone had pointed me in this direction in the early days of my relationship with Angus. I had no idea he was not to blame for how I felt. I did not see how my experience was a reflection of the thoughts I was identifying with. I didn’t recognize the inherent nature of my mind was to settle if I didn’t fuel my thinking. I wasn’t aware that my freedom and security can only ever be found by looking inward to the universal true nature that is all of us beyond our psychology. I just saw Angus’s actions and felt my experience. That felt like a causal relationship.
Now I see there is no relationship between the two. My experience is free-floating from circumstance and 100% rooted in how much I am identifying with my transitory personal thoughts versus resting in my impersonal nature of love. I still identify with my thoughts of blame and judgment at times, but I have also experienced how good it feels when I don’t. This puts me on a sincere learning curve of looking inward to that space of love so I can see my psychological innocence and the psychological innocence of others. This is not about letting them off the hook for their behavior. It is about my heartfelt desire to truly experience peace, inner freedom, and wellbeing. I am committed to looking for that within. The byproduct of that is that relationships flourish. They are watered by the drops of love rather than strangled by the weeds of blame.
I hope this helps you to look within to your own state of unconditional love and innate wellbeing. Start there. Experience your own transformation and then see the world and people you see transform before your eyes.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.