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1 (855) EMPATHY

Life and communication coaching for women.

Beyond Blame


Beyond Blame

Marina Smerling


The blessed attempt to get our needs met by pointing the finger at another.  The semi-conscious belief that, “If I can just shun and punish this person enough for their bad behavior, they will do what I want."

I am no stranger to blame.  Truth: I fall into its alluring trap all the time.  The grooves are well worn in this brain – “The source of your suffering is out there, Marina, and that other person is doing it *to* you.”

Sound familiar?


If we follow the thread of blame down to the core of our being, down through rage to hopelessness, down to heartache and despair, we inevitably land at the feet of something that matters deeply to us, in all facets of life.  A basic need – perhaps for safety, for love, for understanding, for inclusion.

But for so many of us, taught in so many ways that our needs didn't matter, that we were "selfish" or "needy" when we spoke up for them – blame became our only hope.  It requires no vulnerability, no request, no admission of a need that once was slapped out of our hands.

Blame made so much sense.

But, sadly, blaming only reinforces our belief that power is out there, in something that *you* can do for me and are withholding, rather than something in *me* to be listened to, fed, and ignited.

And so I ask: what would happen if we committed to no more blame?


There may be a momentary freakout, a determination not to be subsumed by powerlessness, a scramble and a rush to survive.

But then… so, too, there may be relief.

The realization that we no longer *have* to pull away from the other.  That we no longer *have* to build that 9-foot wall. That power lies in here.

The question then becomes:

How can we creatively get our needs met without making another wrong?  So often, this involves daring to take a stand for our needs in a way we never have before – saying “yes, this matters to me,” even if the other person has feelings about it.  Not compromising our needs as a way of trying to make them feel better (and in turn, lessening our own guilt and feelings of “badness”).

Daring to feel “bad,” and taking a stand for our needs anyway.  When I can tolerate my own feelings of “badness,” my own fear of being judged and blamed and accused – all because I know and love my needs *that dang much*, something opens, something frees.  I no longer need to point the finger at the other person to get free.  No, I choose to get free here and now regardless.

An invitation….  Next time you find yourself in the blame rut, ask yourself:

1)      What is my judgment about this person?  Explicitly naming it is the first step to freeing yourself from it.

2)      What if I never made anyone wrong again, starting with this person in front of me?  Let yourself burn a bit there.

3)      What are the needs I would have to fully claim and take a stand for, in order to release my judgment of them?

4)      What’s one creative way I could say “yes” to these needs, nurturing them, with or without the other’s buy-in?

5)      What shifts, if anything, in my feelings toward the other person when I dare to claim and stand for my needs in this way?

Oooh, but that sounds so *selfish*, no?!  To take care of your needs, with or without the other person?  In my experience with this practice, the result of claiming and taking a stand for our needs (especially those that we haven’t given ourselves permission for in this lifetime) is actually a softening and merciful gentling toward the other person.

It’s like, once I’ve got my own ground to stand on, I no longer need to defend or attack them for their wrongness.  Rather, I just need to trust that *I* give enough of a damn about my own needs that I’ll care for them, rather than brush them under the carpet of my soul for the zillionth time.

From here, maybe, just maybe, curiosity about the other is born.


And now, a big ol’ disclaimer: I hold NO “should” around your releasing blame.  You are not a better person in my eyes for it.  We all have our wounds, some deeper than others, some of us have experienced trauma, and it’s not for me to say that you “should” overcome your judgment and blame now and forever.  Heck no.  This is an invitation.  Try it on.  If it serves you, your peace and empowerment and wholeness in this world, hallelujah.  If it doesn’t, I point you back to that wisdom in your belly that knows just how to lead you home.

Make sense, dear ones?

Try it on, and talk to me (here, if you’re willing):

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