6 Ways to Cope with Blamers

Your co-worker is constantly blaming his boss for his 80 hour plus work weeks.  You are blamed by the project chair for the missed deadline although they were responsible for the delay.  Your partner blames you for the cold dinner, after arriving thirty minutes late.  You end up embarrassed.  Dumbfounded.  Sometimes seething.  These destructive feelings, when ongoing, cause irreparable damage to the relationship and your self-esteem.

blamersBlamers are everywhere.  I see blamers as those who have external locus of control.  As defined by Psychology Today, “The belief that events in one’s life, whether good or bad, are caused by uncontrollable factors such as the environment, other people, or a higher power.”  If you feel as though everything is out of your control and out of your realm of responsibility, you’re going to have lost that responsibility elsewhere.  This is what blamers do.  “A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes.” Odds are that if you are suffering from the blamers around you, you have an internal locus of control and are feeling responsible for the blame that is heaped on you.  Fear not!  There are ways to cope with this.

 

6 Ways to Cope with Blamers:

 

  1. Own your piece. Everyone has at least 2% of the truth. This is a tenet of CRR Global. So does the blamer.  If you get defensive and start arguing with the blamer, it is discounting the 2% of truth.  Maybe you were late with one little piece of the project, maybe you didn’t answer the email by the deadline, maybe your ideas weren’t well fleshed out.  I’m not suggesting you be a doormat, but acknowledge the 2% that is correct.  It’s not “I completely blew this, I’m sorry” but “I can see that responding faster to that email would have impacted the outcome.”  Everyone is right…partially.

 

  1. Find the brilliance. A lot of people rarely compliment the other folks in their lives. Whether at home or at work, we don’t try and catch people doing something right.  But everyone does something right every day.  Even if it’s brush their teeth or complete the monthly report on time.  Look for the positive.  Hunt for it.  I was working with a narcissist once.  She didn’t like any of my ideas for a project.  She showed me one of her ideas which I sincerely thought was innovative.  I said, “This is brilliant.”  She did a 180 degree change on the project.  Now she was onboard.  If I had held my tongue, we would have remained at logger heads.   Look for the brilliance.  Then broadcast it.

 

  1. Listen with empathy. When someone is blaming either someone else or you, be sure to actively listen with empathy. This can be difficult.  It can be painful to hear someone trash your best efforts.  It will help to focus on your breath so that you can stay out of going to your lizard brain and activating your limbic system (the fight or flight response). It may even take returning to the topic later after you’ve had a chance to cool off.  My husband was upset with me a few nights ago and asked that we talk about the topic on Sunday morning.  This was really effective.  I had time to reflect and he had time to reflect.  We were in a better space to listen and be empathetic. Make space to listen.

 

  1. Respond looking for solutions. Aja Frost wrote a great article called 7 Perfect Replies to (Politely) Shut Down Negative People. My two favorite for coping with the chronic blamer is, “Is there anything I can do?” and “I’m sorry to hear that. Did anything good come out of the situation?” This can shut the blamer down because it is focused on forward positive motion.  Blamers typically want to dwell on how bad everything is. I have asked clients who are focusing on blame, “What 2% are you responsible for?”   This is a proactive approach.  It focuses on what can be versus what was

 

  1. Come from a place of love. As Kelly Smith wrote for Tiny Buddha, “Remember, all actions are based in either fear or love. Base yours in love. Realize their actions are based in fear. Often, these fears are ones that no one can reach because they are too deep-seated for the person to acknowledge. Accept that, and continue to operate from your own base of love.” I personally have been meditating on loving kindness for months.  My mantra has been to be the “Love and light” in my life.  Having an open heart and compassion for others helps me see the good in all people regardless of the facade they may be exhibiting.  We all want to be loved, happy and at peace.

 

  1. Let go. As Kelly Smith wrote, “It’s not worth your constant wondering and worrying. It isn’t good for you to hold onto it and over-analyze it. Let it go; visualize yourself blowing it all into a balloon, tying it off, and letting it drift away. Feel lighter because of it!” I love the balloon metaphor.  Another practice is to clench your hand in a fist with your anger towards the blamer, and then release.  Let the blame dissolve into the ether.

 

Sometimes your best efforts can’t change or pacify other people’s behavior.  There may be a difficult decision in front of you.  Chronic blamers can be toxic for an organization or family unit.  If you’ve tried these coping mechanisms and you still feel like your self-esteem is being affected, you might need to move on.

Waiting for Happiness? 7 Ways to Embrace it Now.

I’m not sure this is an American construct, but I have felt that for most of my life that I would be happy once I: Got out of college, got a job, got married, got divorced, bought a house, moved, made a million dollars. Funny; I never got there. There is always one more elusive hurdle. It feels like I’m on this constant treadmill; happiness is always around the next corner.

As Shawn Achor says in his book The Happiness Advantage, we’ve been sold the idea that once we are “successful” we will be happy. Turns out, it is the exact opposite. The research has shown that you need to be happy to find success, or at least it helps you get there faster. You need to be happy in order to be a success. Happiness comes first in the equation. finding happiness

Here are some ideas on how to make happiness part of your life (instead of waiting for the elusive success milestone):

1. Fall up. As Shawn Achor prescribes, it’s all about how you handle adversity. Instead of falling down you need to fall up. When I trained for my half marathon last year, I would look for adversity. If Saturday was going to be hot (90 degrees plus) and Sunday a breezy 60…run on Saturday. Rain in the forecast? Run on that day. Look for it. Embrace it. On the actual race day? It rained. No biggie. I’m falling up.

2. Kindness. Pick a day to practice kindness; a sort of “pay it forward” kind of day. Shawn Achor recommends picking the day in advance. So if you did a couple of nice things today, start over tomorrow and call it Kindness Day. This is actually harder than it sounds…yes, I’ve tried it. I tried to do 5 kind things today. I’m up to 4 but the day is not over. I feel like going to Starbucks so I can buy the person behind me their drink. But I have to say, when you are on a mission to be kind, it feels great. I’m looking for an opportunity to pay a compliment, hold the door and smile. Try a bit of kindness.

3. Internal Locus of Control. Say what? This is whether you blame everyone else (the world is out to get me) or you are the master of your own journey. Sail your own ship whether there is a hurricane or not. Accept responsibility for your life. It’s not your mother’s fault, the stock market, Obama ..Yada Yada Yada . Folks who see life with from the external locus of control view are not as happy. They are constantly at the whim of fate; waiting for the next wave to wash them out. If you can move to an internal locus of control, you take control; you act on the world instead of the world acting on you. Let out the jib, stay the course and take control of the rudder of your life. Embrace an internal locus of control.

4. Blessings. Count your blessings. Do you have a roof over your head? Enough food? Clothes? People you can count on? Your dog loves you. It’s sunny outside. It finally stopped snowing. It finally started raining. Be grateful and count it up. I journal three a day. What went right and write it down. Start counting your blessings.

5. Reframe. Think about how you frame events in your life. If your flight was delayed, are you happy you met someone new waiting for seat assignments or are you thinking about how you will miss the first session of the conference? It turns out that if you can see the joy, the serendipity of “bad events”, you will be happier and be able to find the light in the darkness. Reframe the situation from slogging through the mud to playing in the mud. Have you ever seen pictures of folks after an obstacle course race? They just lived through a 5 k and 10 different obstacles but they are ecstatic. Reframe how you see obstacles (and maybe get a little muddy).

6. Focus. Focus on what you can control. Make it a very narrow focus. Shawn Achor calls this the Zorro Circle. It’s empowering to take care of the things within your control. I can get this blog post done, clean out my inbox and make dinner. Whew. What a relief. I’m happy when I’m not overwhelmed and focus on the things that I can change or do. Focus.

7. Anticipate. Plan an exotic trip a year from now and anticipate it every day. That sounds crazy doesn’t it? But the anticipation makes you happy. You are more positive and forward thinking. This even works if the trip is make-believe. So mark you calendar for that cruise to Alaska and start counting down the days. Plan the zip line tour, the fishing trip and the photos you are going to take. Anticipation is the antidote.

I think the main thing is to quit projecting into the future for the next milestone and it’s elusive “happiness”. Take stock of what you already have and share it with others. Happiness begets success, not the other way around.

Where do you find happiness?