Are You a Blameaholic?
By Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, the “Stress Doc” ™
Why do people get angry? We become angry when we see our beliefs or goals violated. There's a sense of injustice. We may feel discarded, devalued or disrespected. We often become aggressive when our freedom, space and identity are threatened. And, we're fighting mad when determined to redress an injustice, insult or invasion.
However, much of the time you're making me angry is a myth. If you don't believe this, you need to know the difference between evoke
and provoke. Too often an injured person, feeling rejected or unfairly criticized, tries to hold the other party hostage with guilt: "You've made me upset." Or, the injured claim self-righteous retaliation, for they've been provoked.
For adults, most verbal sticks and stones stir moans or groans,
but don't really harm us. They can, however, evoke long-standing feelings of hurt and humiliation we carry through life. So, if you're trying to provoke someone with "What's wrong with you?," "You don't care about me," "You really disappoint me!"... you're expressing frustrations with "acc-'you'-sations." Don't be a blameaholic. Use "I" messages: First, state how you feel: "I'm angry right now." Next, explain why you're upset: "I get angry when you say you'll do the dishes, and then leave them." Finally, tell the person what you want them to do: "I'll feel better if you do those dishes, especially if you want to eat around here!" Sometimes we may need a "you" message! Remember: A firm "no" a day keeps the ulcers away; and the hostilities too.
Are your verbal anger skills still stuck in the sticks and stone age?