Blaming is a natural human tendency. When something bad happens, the first thing we want to know is, “whose fault is it?” In this follow up to her popular short on empathy, Dr. Brené Brown considers why we blame others, how it sabotages our relationships, and why we desperately need to move beyond this toxic behavior.

Blaming provides us with a means to discharge our pain, and makes us feel as though we have some grasp of control on a negative situation. While it may feel good to release anger by blaming others, it hurts our relationships with those around us, and makes it difficult for us to hold people accountable for their actions. As Brené explains in the video, blaming has an inverse relationship with accountability.
So why is blaming so toxic? It’s an example of defensiveness, one of the Four Horsemen that predicts relationship failure. Dr. Gottman defines defensiveness as self-protection from a perceived attack through righteous indignation or by playing the victim. Below is an example of a defensive interaction between a couple:
Mark: The house is a mess! We have company coming over in an hour, Ben. I thought we agreed that you would tidy up the kitchen

Originally published at http://www.gottmanblog.com/

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