Explosive Emotions - Blame-Game
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Externalizing Blame to Cover Up Shame

Rita Plays the Blame Game

In my previous post, Rita was going to spend Christmas with her brother and sister-in-law until her emotions exploded at the preacher on their TV. Dennis and Gracie left to allow Rita some time to settle down so they could discuss things calmly without playing the blame game.

While they were gone, Rita got an Uber back to the airport to fly back to New York City.  But this small airport had no flights to New York City for several hours.

Rita was so anxious she couldn’t sit still. She began pacing around the waiting area. The attendants became aware of her talking to herself as she paced. Her talking became louder and louder. The few passengers in the waiting area were getting nervous wondering what she was going to do and if she was a threat to them.

She threw her phone and it nearly hit an older lady. An attendant ran to her to calm her down, but she got worse. Two attendants ushered her into a waiting area away from the other passengers. One of the attendants got her to sit down with the suggestion of calling her brother. Rita dialed Dennis.

Dennis answered, “Rita, where are you? We expected to be able to talk to you when we got back. “

Rita Begins Blaming

“No, you didn’t. Don’t blame me. You just wanted to preach to me. I tried that route, praying the prayer once and my life got worse. I lost my job and was almost on the street. It’s all your fault because you and Mom pressured me into saying that stupid prayer.”

“Is your life better now?” Dennis asked.


“The pictures you are drawing. They’re evil,” he said.

“Why were you looking at my art? You’re trying to get me fired again. I knew it. Coming down here was a mistake.”

She started to swear and make angry gestures as she hung up the phone. Dennis tried to call her back, but she wouldn’t answer.

She started texting him with all kinds of nasty, blaming texts.

“Everything would have been fine if Gracie hadn’t stepped between us, telling me to calm down and eat my breakfast, as if I were a kid she could boss around. Why are you taking her side? I’m your sister. She needs to get out of the way so we can be brother and sister again. Please,” she texted. “It’s all Gracie’s fault.”

Externalization of Blame

Externalization of blame is a form of emotional abuse. It is a manipulative tactic used to control others. For example, it is blaming another person for negative events or experiences instead of taking personal responsibility. People often externalize blame to protect their self-esteem or justify their actions when they experience shame

Unfortunately, it often causes more problems long-term because the person continues to look for more reasons to blame the other person and minimize their responsibility or failure.

Signs of externalizing blame:

  • Continually thinking about and looking for things to blame the other person for.
  • Refusing to take responsibility for something they themselves may have done to create the problem.
  • Intentionally making the other person feel guilty or ashamed for expressing their wants and needs.

Why Does This Matter?

How do you react when you are blamed for something you did or didn’t do? Do you become defensive and fight back with anger? Do you launch a counterattack? Or become reclusive and shut down?

When a person is shamed it triggers feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, or feelings of powerlessness. This could happen in what is said or written, such as, on social media. It can also be teasing, bullying, ignoring, shunning, or mocking. 

No matter how we are blamed or shamed, it makes having a productive conversation to resolve the issue very difficult. It doesn’t matter if the person did what they are being accused of or not because blaming and shaming create barriers that prohibit looking at the other side of the problem to get an accurate picture and process resolution.

Can Blame/Shame Events Be Resolved?

We live in a society that hangs on to grievances and wrongdoings. Previously, Rita blamed Dennis’s and their Mom. Now, she says it’s Gracie’s fault.

The world we live in today is full of bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. In the movies, the bad guys, like in “Breaking Bad,” are the ones who are celebrated and honored.

Is it the same for Christians? As Christians are we to hold the grievances in our hearts like others do? What does the Bible say about resolving issues?

What God’s Word says:

Matt 18:21-22 “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” NIV

Affect Of Unforgiveness

Do we as Christians have the right to get our “pound of flesh”, to hang on to unforgiveness?  

Unforgiveness keeps you stuck in the past. How?

It keeps the pain alive. The wounds never heal. You are constantly remembering what happened and how you felt, which creates more and more anger. The pain and bad feelings continue to increase. It’s like you become imprisoned in a cell of anger and unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness produces bitterness.

As you remember and recite in your mind the offenses, you collect more and more evidence against the other person, which turns into bitterness. You’ve heard it said that what you think is what you become. That is very true about unforgiveness. It begins to shape who you are and how you act. 

According to the Bible, bitterness is sin, an infection that infects the whole body.

Ephesians 4:31 “Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil.” CEB

Isaiah 5:20 “Doom to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who make bitterness sweet and sweetness bitter.” CEB

Acts 8:23 “For I see that your bitterness has poisoned you and evil has you in chains.” CEB

Unforgiveness gives Satan an open door into your life.

Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry without sinning. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil.” ESV

The enemy moves into a person’s life when bitterness and unforgiveness are present. It’s like you swing open the door and put a welcome mat out for the demons to come on in and make themselves at home.

Unforgiveness blocks or hinders your relationship with God.

Mark 11:25-26 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” NKJ

God says, that if we don’t forgive and put away bitterness and anger, God will not forgive us. We will not be right with him.

Rita In the Airport

Dennis turned his phone off. It was ringing continuously with one post after another.

Rita was becoming more and more spun up. She began pacing back and forth, then rattling the door to get someone’s attention.

Finally, the door opened and an attendant walked in, “Rita, let’s sit down so we can talk about this,” she said taking Rita’s arm to guide her to a chair.

Rita jerked her arm free. “Let me go. Don’t touch me.”

“Rita, please sit down so we can talk,” the attendant urged.

“No. I don’t want to talk. I want to go home. When can I get a flight to New York?”

“It’s several hours yet.”

The attendant sat down and very calmly motioned for Rita to sit next to her. Rita sat down. 

“I don’t know what kind of problems you are having, but can I pray with you? God can help us find an answer to your problem.”

Rita jumped up yelling, screaming, and swinging her fist in the air. “I’ll never forgive them!”

“If you don’t forgive, God can’t forgive you. Your anger, hatred, and bitterness will get worse and worse. It’s not going to be good,” the attendant said.

“I don’t care. I’ll never forgive them.”

Rita stomped off and sat in a corner with her hands clenched in hard fists, muttering and pounding on the table.

The attendant walked out and called security, who called paramedics to take Rita to a mental hospital.

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