The Quite Possibly Worst Addiction Out There

The number one destroyer of a mediation going smoothly is the same as the number one destroyer of intimacy in close relationships.  Blame and Criticism.

Blame and criticism are costly addictions, and the truth is that when we criticize it doesn’t have anything to do with the thing we are criticizing.  When we blame someone or something, we are doing it because we are trying to weaken the flow of positive energy.  Gay Hendricks has talked about how when you go into criticizing or blame mode it is as if you are in a hypnotic trance.  When we’are in the trance, we really believe that the other person has done wrong.


Isn’t this so true?  When we criticize or blame haven’t we absolutely convinced ourselves that the other person has done something wrong?  They deserve to hear it and we want them to make amends.  When they don’t?  Well, that’s just more reason they should be blamed and criticized.  And, ladies, I hate to say it, but we sometimes have the most critical tongue.  ”When a woman criticizes a man, whether she does it deliberately or not, she makes it impossible for him to feel connected to her.  Where there is withdrawn or silent man, there is usually a critical woman.”  – Patricia Love and Steven Stosny

Some of you, however, right now as you read this still do not understand why blame is a negative.  Don’t they deserve some of this?  I know I have had my share of what I thought to be justified blame.  There is no truth in what we are dishing out.  What is true is our feeling about their behavior.

Here’s the thing, when we blame we are blind and choose to be so.  We remain unaware of the fact that by blaming we are telling ourselves about the other’s behavior and that stimulates our pain.  This lack of awareness causes distress and also keeps us powerless to do anything about it. Even though we attempt to reduce our distress by continuing to throw the heat on the other person by blaming and criticizing, the fire in us burns even greater.  This is because when we blame it mirrors back onto us because the truth is we are all one.  Another way to look at blame is that it is just a tragic expression of an unmet need.  If you call your spouse cold and heartless, this is more about your hurt, what you feel you were lacking in the relationship.  This is about your needs and his or her inability to meet them and our disappointment or hurt that they could not or did not.  By expressing the unmet need through blame and criticism we almost guarantee that our need will not be met.


So, what can we do about it?

Stop it.  (If you can’t, seek some help because it is an addiction.)

Just as blame is a protective measure based on fear and ignorance, compassion is a countermove based on courage and understanding.

So, when you start to feel the rise of the need to blame or criticize, take a moment to feel whatever it is that is bubbling up in you.  Where is the feeling located?  Is it in your stomach, your throat, your heart.  What is behind the blame you want to throw out there?  Are you scared?  Are you lonely and sad?  Are you angry because he or she is not giving to you what you need?  Can you now ask for what it is you need without blaming or criticizing.  ”I am really sad because I have wanted to be close to you.”  ”I feel scared because I don’t know how to do this alone.”

In divorce, just as in marriage, the feelings behind the blame or criticism should be discussed so that some of these age-old relationship dynamic wounds may be healed.  Divorce can be such a healing process.  And, we need that more than anything.  When we decide that the marriage must end, why do we think that it should be the biggest and meanest fight ever?  Why not wrap it up, bless it for the lessons and for the moments of kindness and joy, and send it on its way so that we may move forward to have the capacity for enjoyment, for new loves, for joy.



With love and light,



P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.


P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process and you live in Washington, DC or Maryland, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  (202) 587-2772.

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