Looking for someone to blame?
One of the challenges I’ve faced in my parenting journey, is my need to find something or someone to blame when things aren’t the way I want them to be. For example, I have in my head this idealized version of myself. I’m kind, gentle, centered, and wise.
When I don’t meet my expectations of myself I get angry and sad. Because we’re often socialized or conditioned to believe that some feelings are bad, such as anger or sadness, I look to shift the blame for these feelings to others.
Sometimes I’ll also put the blame on myself as a way to avoid feeling the anger or the sadness, or confronting the expectations I have of myself.
When I’m in the midst of a struggle with myself, the impulse to blame allows me to avoid my own internal discomfort. Rather than sit with the discomfort, I move outward and look at the actions of the people around me and how they are the reason I feel a certain way.
I then focus on how I need to change them. I no longer have to look within myself and feel what I feel about myself. I have become absorbed in someone else’s world and I avoid my own feelings.
If others are responsible for my feelings, for my anger, then it’s really not MY anger. It belongs to someone else. I am also good at looking at circumstances to blame. I tell myself if I just got enough sleep, enough breaks, enough of whatever, I wouldn’t feel the anger anymore.
Inherent in this blame game is the belief that I shouldn’t feel certain things. I feel angry; I resist the anger; I judge the anger; I judge myself; I look for someone or something to blame; I react; and then I get caught up in the recurring cycle of reaction.
Some of this cycle is also about a false dichotomy of good and bad. I’m a good parent when I’m kind and nice to the children in my life, I’m a bad parent when I’m angry. The more that I push myself to be on the “good” side, the more I seem to get stuck on the “bad” side.
When I’m on the good side, I congratulate myself for a good day. When I’m on the bad side, I beat myself up, and start blaming. Even without other authority figures around me, such as my parents or teachers, I’ve internalized this conditionality and impose it on myself.
As we grow up, we learn to mold ourselves to fit the needs of others. We externalize our lives, our feelings, our actions, our love. We look to others to fill the gaps that are within us, because we learn that love and approval are external and conditional.
Getting our needs met depends on how well we’re able to do what others want us to do. We don’t necessarily think about the fact that we don’t love ourselves unconditionally, but we struggle to love our children unconditionally.
How can we do for others what we don’t know how to do for ourselves?
Internalizing our lives is one part of the process of change. The change begins within each of us. The control and domination that we may project onto our children is, in fact, an internal struggle.
It is a struggle to let go of the judgments we make about ourselves. It is a struggle to let go of the need to be “good” all the time. It is a struggle to allow ourselves to feel what we feel, to own the feelings and not shift blame to others.
So what if I just said to myself, I feel angry; I feel sad; I’m not happy; I’m really pissed off.
What if I just let myself be what I am in that moment?
Acceptance, without judgment.
Just as I attempt to do with the children in my life.
What if I gave myself the room to be fully who I am, just as I try to create space for Martel and Greyson?
Take it inward.
Allow it to be within me, let go of the binary of good and bad, let go of controlling the feelings with my mind and just sit with them.
Let go of blaming others or myself, let go of any blame. Just be who I am.