Blame is a Trap (Video)

01/06/2011 09:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Some people think blame is a way to escape trouble. If something goes wrong, they blame whomever's handy. It's easy -- just point the finger of guilt and run away from the pain and the mistakes.

Well, I've learned this:

Blame is useless


First, it distracts me from thinking about my role in whatever happened. (And if I'm tempted to blame someone, then I can be pretty sure that I have some involvement in the problem.)

Second, blaming doesn't help me understand or deal with the problem at hand. I don't learn anything, I don't progress, and the problem is never solved.

Shifting responsibility is avoidance. And I can't deal with a problem if I'm running away from it. I find I feel better if I identify what I did in the problem and understand that. Then the rest seems to fall into place.

In my separation, I often felt like blaming my former partner. I'd guess she felt the same about me. But when we succumbed to blaming, we ended up fighting. There were more tears, more hurt, more damage. And when we could take a step back and just speak about our individual experiences, we at least avoided making the problem worse.

Good guidelines for me turned out to be some of the oldest.

Use "I" statements.

Ask questions.

Don't assume.

Don't blame.

Say how I feel.

Listen -- even when I feel like I've been unfairly treated.

Sometimes, facing up to my role in whatever went wrong can be difficult. But when I take responsibility for my life in this way, when I let go of blaming, I usually have a strong sense of freedom. I feel connected to the past but not chained to it. I feel I can learn from what happened and then move on.

This is part of a Huffpost series -- in words and video. I call it For Men Who Have Everything, Including Separation -- Thoughts on Surviving Separation. There are 12 segments in all, and the next eight will be arriving over the coming weeks. If you want to read the first three installments, there are links at the bottom of this post.

My goals are straight-forward:

  • Offer hope and humor to men who are disconsolate after a relationship has hit the rocks
  • Offer a resource to women -- sisters, mothers, friends -- who care about such men
I wrote For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart because I would have liked a book like this when my first marriage nose-dived.

I offer it in a spirit of brotherhood and with a strong faith that once our broken hearts mend, we have the capacity to be more compassionate, wiser, more resilient and stronger than we were before.

For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart, #1

There's more blogging and vlogging and to come. I promise it will be personal and positive. Sign up for email alerts and each time a new segment is posted, you'll be informed. Thanks.