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One dysfunctional pattern you may be stuck in is cycling between blame and shame—being unhappy and wanting to blame someone else (or lots of people) alternating with blaming yourself and feeling deeply ashamed of your deficits, mistakes, etc. Nothing good can come out of ping-ponging between these two effects which both may trigger emotional eating. Here are two examples of this dynamic.
In each case, there’s an assumption that someone is or did wrong and that someone must take the blame for your unhappiness. Not true. There’s another way to look at any situation. There may be a cause and effect, but there need not be blame. Say, lightning strikes the tree which catches on fire and burns down the cottage next to it from which the young couple but not their pet rabbit escape. Cause and effect, but who’re you going to blame. Sometimes stuff just happens. Nor does there need to be shame which blinds us from seeing situations clearly and paralyzes us from taking action to affect change.
In the first example, you could feel compassion for your father and for yourself. You could understand that Mom left him to take care of herself. If you weren’t blaming and shaming, you could problem solve to improve your situation. In the second example, you could recognize that you and your spouse are stuck in an unhealthy cycle of anger. You could change your part in the dynamics, refusing to shame or blame, or you could seek counseling together or by yourself.
Don’t let yourself stay stuck in the blame-shame cycle. It will get you exactly nowhere because it inhibits problem-solving and personal growth and creates further dysfunction in relationships. Everyone is doing the best they can even though that sometimes isn’t nearly good enough (or even very good at all). You may want others to do better, but you can only control your behavior. Since that’s the case, stop blaming and shaming you or someone else and point yourself in the direction of being an agent of change.
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