When I began my personal growth journey, the revelations were massive.
Self-awareness opened me to a whole new world. The breakthroughs and transformations were profound! And dramatic.
Decades later, the noticing is much more subtle, and the whole process feels a bit like espionage of the soul. Instead of discovering I had walked into an unconscious wall when I realize how blocked I have been, I now get a whiff of something and then carefully bring my attention to it, to see what I can find.
I recently had such an experience.
There are many experiences I have which I attribute to my husband’s actions. Many of them are truly wonderful, but not all of them…
So when someone asked me two weeks ago whether I ever blame him for my experience, I thought for a second. As someone who has done a great deal of work on myself and coach others to do the same, I know better than to blame someone else for my experience. Therefore, my first response was, “No, I don’t blame him—that’s not something I do.”
However, moments later I realized that, while I avoid using the word “blame”, I do attribute things to other people, and to my husband in particular. Once I was honest with myself in this way, I realized that, giving attribution was a sneaky way to avoid feeling blame. I felt morally superior because I wasn’t stooping so low and blaming him. But actually making him the cause of my experience was the same thing as blaming him for it, but in much prettier packaging.
When I become aware of something of this sort within me, I do not turn away from it. I don’t try to tell myself it’s not true. I don’t attempt to excise it from my system. And I don’t conclude that I am a bad person. Not at all—instead I lean in and make friends with the part of myself which I have been previously avoiding.
I do this because every time I do, I discover important things about who I am. Leaning in inevitably results in my finding a nugget of truth.
And once I claim that truth, or honor that need, the offending behavior tends to drop away.
In other words, I know that qualities and behaviors I don’t like are covering up something important and when I embrace that important thing, those behaviors will drop away.
How did I put that into practice with this, when I realized that I do blame my husband for what I experience?
First of all, any time I was aware of believing that my reaction, my emotions, my experience were the result of something my husband said or did, I stopped and asked myself if I was blaming him for it.
To my surprise, the answer was YES pretty much every time I asked myself this question!!!
Second of all, having already asked my husband if he wanted me to tell him when this was happening and hearing his yes, I let him know when I blame him for something. Typically I say it somewhat flirtatiously or coyly. Occasionally it’s quite vulnerable. And never do I actually say it in a way that blames him. Because the point of my communication is to tell him about my awareness; it’s not actually about blaming him for anything when I share in this way.
What have I learned? I have learned that even after years of learning to take responsibility for the quality of my relationship, and the experiences of my life, I still have been subtly blaming my husband for times I feel dissatisfied.
The next step is to be compassionate towards myself, and to look at the patterns in play:
- When do I tend to feel that way?
- What am I thinking or feeling when I blame him?
- Once I tell him I was blaming him, what is the emotion right underneath? (It’s usually internal spaciousness and joy.)
This is still a work in progress, so I will let you know what else I discover.
What about you?
What are you newly aware of in yourself, and in your relationship?
And what are you doing to shift it?
Press reply. I would love to know.
With pleasure and purpose,