Unable to Help: Finding Fault to Solve Problems

Many things we think show understanding, actually have the opposite effect. They make a person feel mad or misunderstood.

The following are some examples of the advice we give that doesn’t help:

1) “You have only yourself to blame.”
Here the helper’s good intention is to teach us to assume more responsibility for a problem. However, the helper has succeeded in confirming our pre-existing feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and inferiority. He has accused us of causing our own problems and by criticizing our failure to succeed, we feel less competent to achieve.

2) “It’s their fault.”
This serves to excuse ourselves from all responsibility for our own distress. What this comment implies is that the issue is with finding fault. This speaks directly to how American culture approaches problem solving. Find out who is doing it and force them to stop. Problem solved. However, this issue isn’t about finding fault and stopping it from occurring. The issue is human imperfection. Humans make mistakes and worry about causing painful outcomes. The blame and accusations are smoke and mirrors to avoid the reality that we are not perfect. And we cannot be made less imperfect by blaming others for all our issues.

3) “It was not good enough.”
This is a way of saying, “I do not accept you as you are. I cannot accept you until you achieve the degree of perfection that I determine sufficient.” So you are set up to fail. How can we assume responsibility to fulfill the impossible expectation of being perfect? If we are trying to show our superiority, it implies we are currently inferior. By trying to please others and prove ourselves, we only maintain and perpetuate our emotional pain.

4) “You don’t want to change, you like being in pain.”
Helpers say this when they feel inadequate to relieve our suffering. This tactic is called blame the victim. The truth is that no one likes to be in pain. People use their painful suffering to achieve something that they feel they cannot achieve in a healthier way. They may enjoy the payoffs of their manipulative antagnoism, but they do not enjoy their suffering. It is always important to make distinction between a means to an end and end in itself.

5) “What is the use of getting angry? It doesn’t do any good.”
This is like asking, “What is the use of getting chicken pox?” It is the wrong question and we cannot begin to get the right answers until we start asking the right questions. People get angry whether it does any good or not. A better question is, “How can you manage your anger properly so you can get the relief you need and not cause yourself any more pain?”

6) “No one can make you angry, unless you let them.”
This is another example of blaming the victim. Not only is the person who makes this remark angry, but this remark implies it is their fault. People are not immune or made of stone. We can teach people how to respect themselves in spite of  how others behave. On this basis, they are able to feel more successful and reduce their emotional hurt.

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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