Many of us find great comfort in demonizing our ex spouses or ex friends to make it easier to banish them from our world. This is a very 1 or 10, black or white, self serving point of view.
We call this either/or thinking which is always about the extremes. Psychotherapy is often about the grey, or the 4,5 or 6. Truth lies in the complexity of the situation. Very little in life is simply right or wrong.
This attitude serves me well in working with couples. It always takes two people to kill off a marriage. While one person may have a greater percentage of responsibility, it’s still very important to claim your 15-45%. Yet so many people love the simplicity of ignoring their part in the troubles.
When working with individuals it can be a challenge to interrupt the convenience of blaming the other person. There is also the delicious self righteousness that it’s all their fault. Who among us doesn’t love that?
It’s a whole lot harder to walk the plank & take responsibility for your part. Face the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach & then you actually will have a shot at not repeating the same relationship mistakes.
When my clients date, I recommend that they ask “What was your part in the demise of your last relationship?” It’s really a test of maturity & self awareness. Everyone should be able to answer that question in their late 30’s & up.
Truthful integrity requires that you look at yourself. Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying “When you point your finger at someone else there are 3 fingers pointing back at you.”
Blame can be very manipulative. It is a way to erase all other point of view that interfere with your own ideas. Your ex may have said some very ugly things in the process of the breakup. Unfortunately people do. Emotions run high & barriers are rapidly built.
Six to Nine months later try to be fair & ask yourself; Does your ex really lack character? Are they likely to be that destructive? Don’t use what was said to rob them & the children of time together. Try to reserve your protective instincts for situations where there truly is danger, not as an excuse to be selfish.
Demonizing & Blame can be very gratifying.
The novel by Russell Banks called The Sweet Hereafter is all about how human it is to want to assign blame. It is a wonderful book because the author understands that we sooo want things explained that are unexplainable….
It makes it easier to justify what you want or how you want to appear. Parents, kids, spouses & friends all fall into the trap of using their own sensitivity to avoid authentic dialogue. This ends up with you avoiding the opportunity to swallow your defenses & look at yourself which is also an invitation to grow.
It is truly classy to honestly face your own misdeeds. It’s not only one of the cornerstone of trust in all relationships but in believing in yourself.