Brené Brown just linked to this great animated video on blame. It’s short and cute so give it a quick watch:
I’m posting it here now because I literally just did this today. Here’s the scenario:
My wife and I were on the subway train. We stop at a busy station and immediately step onto a crowded platform. She’s walking in front of me, but in the weird start-and-stop way that we tend to do when maneuvering through a hoard of New Yorkers. I was distracted by my own crowd-induced anxiety and was looking to the side. She stopped for a moment and bam! I slammed my toes right into her left heel. It wasn’t painful at all (for me anyway), but my immediate reaction? I barked out, “Jeez, babe!” as if she has done something wrong. Which she hadn’t. I was just anxious and embarrassed and I needed someone to blame. So I blamed her. She very calmly replied, “I was just walking.” And she’s right. She was just walking. I was just walking. It was crowded. Whatever. It was NO ONE’S fault. Yet in that moment, I had to discharge the blame somewhere. And then I was so ashamed that I had snapped at her that I didn’t even apologize.
I used to do this rather frequently in my daily life. In fact, a very similar crowd-anxiety incident happened very early in our relationship. That was over 8 years ago, but I still regret the way I snapped at her that day.
It’s admittedly difficult to stop this type of behavior. It’s almost like you’re a bolt of lightning. You strike and hit whatever is the closest that will conduct your energy. So often it is the people we love and care about the most, but it can be acquaintances or random passersby that end up the target of these short rage bursts. It’s very hard to feel that out of control and scared, even for a moment. It’s much easier to hand it off to someone else to hold onto. But at what price?
Definitely something to work on.