The Blaming-out Response transcript
This stren identifies the first of the eight mental choices available to our will power to transform information into action. I label this first alternative “Blaming-out” because we direct energy to punish some “other,” a person(s), situation, or object, when we experience frustration.
Blaming-out is the most primitive, common, and easy to identify mental action pattern. The blaming-out response is so instinctively preprogrammed into our mental action pathways that it pops up virtually automatically and effortlessly. Blaming-out is easy to recognize because it conforms to the following “a + b” sentence:
(a) He (she, they, it, the world, God, etc.) did what he should not have done, or he did not do what he should have done, and therefore,
(b) he deserves punishment.
The blaming formula leads to a common action pathway: Someone or something is deserving of harm because an expectation was not met. The expectation may or may not be reasonable. Common sense intelligence, by itself, is usually not sufficient to overcome the powerful emotion that instinct links to the blaming-out harmful aggression response. This is why earlier strens emphasize the self-endorsement skills that empower us to attach emotion to intellect.
I consider blaming out the most popular of our eight choices for several reasons:
1. The fight part of the innate “fight or flight” instinct that nature pre-wires in each of us is among our most persistent survival skills. Animals and our early ancestors, living in a savage environment, needed to be automatically prepared to instantly fight or run. In a relatively civil society, however, physical aggression is usually punished. The most ready substitute for our innate reaction to physically strike out, which is no longer acceptable, is mental aggression, some form of blaming. As intelligent individuals, we soon learn that blaming others is a more tolerated, less often punished, and sometimes even a rewarded substitute for physical aggression.
2. In our society, blaming others has come to be the way we persuade others to support our instinct for harmful aggression. Attributing our frustration to an outside evil, bad, blameworthy source is an effective means to get others to carry out our destructive instinct.
3. In addition to instinct’s natural bias to strike out, as we acquire intelligence we also learn that blaming others is a fabulous excuse to avoid punishment for our own unacceptable acts.
4. Through our immature “magic” years when we are helpless and dependent, things just happen! We come to believe that whatever we experience is due to someone or something other than our self. When we experience frustration, we naturally conclude “some other didn’t do what should have been done.” Once we get into the habit of blaming our frustration as the failure of some “other,” emotion sustains this way of thinking. Even when our intellect is sufficiently mature to tell us we are no longer helpless, that we need to take responsibility for our well-being, blaming persists because emotion trumps intellect. How often do we choose to do what is emotionally satisfying at the moment even though we know through common sense that alternative action would provide greater long-term benefit?
5. The most palpable evidence that blaming-out is the most common of our mental choices is direct observation of current events. Simply listen to the news or read the paper. Nations, governments, religions, and neighbors persistently blame one another. Yes, there is lots of evidence of common sense action for shared benefits, but we have yet to make common sense sufficiently common to elevate our society to sustain peaceful win/win cooperation. Too many too often remain stuck favoring instinct’s prewired blaming-out action pathway.
Animals and primitive humans, past and present, primarily deal with danger by physical attack and/or running away. Road rage and crimes of passion are examples of physical aggression creating short term gain at the expense of long term pain. Our nurturers and societal rules teach us relatively early in our lives to convert our fighting energy into more tolerable symbolic means of aggression. We learn we are more likely to get what we want by substituting mental for physical aggression. Blaming others includes resentment, shunning, prejudice, labeling others “evil”, “bad,” “wrong,” “inferior,” and so on. We claim dominance symbolically by winning in competitions, superior status, wealth, and social, economic, and religious “superiority.” Blaming-out, like the five other negative choices, rarely gets us what we want in the long term.
Here are some reasons why blaming out is rarely productive:
1. It wastes valuable energy that could be directed to constructive outcomes.
2. It commonly leads to punishment more than learning to correct the problem.
3. The assumption of “the culprit” being wrong or “bad” is often unfounded. Our early either/or two category way of thinking commonly distorts our thinking to identify ourselves as “all good “and to dehumanize the other as “all evil.”
4. The “blamer” commonly experiences unpleasantness such as tension, resentment, and bodily distress, and is subject to any of the many physical symptoms resulting from prolonged stress.
5. Most important, punishment commonly inspires a similar response from those blamed: retaliation, increasing levels of destructive energy, physical and/or symbolic harm to all parties, and sometimes all-out war. We call this tit-for-tat “escalation.” Appropriate limits, education, and common sense problem-solving are more likely to result in cooperation for mutual benefit.
By labeling and recognizing the blaming-out response, you can make a huge difference in your own well-being and that of the global community. To diminish your blaming-out mental action pathway, first learn to recognize when you are “shoulding” on others or yourself. Look for the prescribing words, viz. should, have to, must, ought. Enthusiastically endorse yourself for spotting the blaming response in your thinking. Remind yourself that you are now in a position to take constructive action. Substitute descriptive words such as could, prefer, would like, I am wise when .... Substitute the personal responsibility word-switch, “I allow …” for “he/she/they/it makes me.” Apply the problem-solving mental response pattern. Periodically review the Mental Freedom Control Panel (strens 35-43), and others that strengthen patience and redirect our destructive energy to constructive outcomes.
Join me for the next stren when we’ll consider the Blaming-in action choice.