At the beginning of this year as part of my resolution making process, I decided to stop blaming others for my unhappiness. In particular, I gave up “man bashing”. You probably know what I’m talking about- man bashing is that thing women do when they get together and go about finding faults in the opposite sex. And I’m not trying to bash women for bashing men here- I get it- it feels good to find a culprit and take him through the court trial where our best friends are the jury. For a second- it gives a sense of power, false power. But just like glazed doughnuts give you a brief 30 seconds of pleasure, the real cost of that comfort is way too high to choose it every day. See, for me, this unspoken cultural standard of punishing our loved ones by exposing their perceived faults to our friends, is a highly effective relationship damaging technique that I no longer want to apply to my life. The problem with finding fault with others is that, in time, you get good at finding fault in general and then eventually that becomes a way of living- looking for someone to blame.
And the problem with spending time looking for someone to blame is that you’re not spending time looking for someone to thank, or to love.
So my girlfriends and I made an agreement- that any time we meet, instead of bad mouthing our significant others, we actually spend time nurturing and supporting each other. Simple concept, I know, but the thing is it that this little agreement is changing our lives. When something is off in our romantic relationships we now look at it as “there is a misunderstanding in my relationship”. Our girlfriend group has an engineer, a savvy business woman, and two coaches. So we combine our different personality types, our empathic abilities with the analytical and pragmatic ones and we attempt “understanding the misunderstanding”. With that, we go about looking at the situation through the eyes of all involved, we combine our knowledge of relationship dynamics and sometimes apparently foreign language of the men we love, and we comfort and nurture each other. Together, we grieve the hurt that the misunderstanding is causing. This practice is changing not only the way we relate to our men but also the way we relate to each other.
As we let go of blame and chose to focus on understanding, a deeper connection and healing is organically taking place.
Our pact to stop blaming has been so powerful, so imPACTful in our lives. Whether we’re single, married or dating, each one of us is transforming into a more profound and solid person. Our perspectives of ourselves and of each other are constantly expanding while our relationships are improving. The changes are astounding. Every single time we choose to replace blame with curiosity, entitlement with gratitude and frustration with patience our partners respond with closeness and intimacy. Sometimes we can’t believe how immediate and responsive the results are.
Of course, we’re not perfect at it. We drift. We lose perspective. We forget. But when one of us slips back towards the old way of accusing, judging and executing punishment, we gently steer her back towards nurturing the hurt underneath the anger. We call each other out. We call on each other. We reach for as opposed to pull away from.
How about you? What works for you? What is the pact you and your friends have made that is making life a little bit easier? I’d love to hear! Email me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to feature it in a video or on the Emotional Health Coaching blog.
Suggested Further Reading: The Queen’s Code by Allison Armstrong