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Blaming Others: Hurts You More Than It Hurts Them

stubbornDon’t get me wrong.  Sometimes other people are to blame.  Sometimes you are completely and totally and utterly correct in thinking that it’s someone else’s fault.

But once you’ve tried to get them to see that and failed, once they refuse to take responsibility, or if you are habitually blaming others rather than formulating a solution–then what?

The problem with blaming others is that it can often leave you powerless.  For example, you confront the person (your boss, your spouse, your parent, your child), and they say, “No, I didn’t,” or worse, “So what if I did?”, then you’re left with all this anger and hurt and no resolution.

All your feelings are legitimate.  It’s important to feel them fully, and then move on.  Nursing your grievances indefinitely is a bad habit, because (as the title goes) it hurts you more than it hurts them.

Think about it: When you continue to feel rotten and the other person has already shown they’re not prepared to do anything about it, it’s like that old saying about the terrorists winning.  It is true that living well is the best revenge, and if you’re fanning the flames of your anger toward others for long periods of time, then you’re certainly not living well.

So what to do instead?

1)  Consider your options.

For example, you may have the option to discontinue the relationship.  You may have the option to limit your contact with the other person to areas that don’t cause you so much distress.

Focus first on what you feel, and then focus on what you can constructively do.  That’s where the empowerment comes in.

2)  Consider your role in the proceedings.

Is it possible that you are contributing to the situation in some way, and you can start to change that?

3) Consider whether the past is influencing the present.

Are you reacting strongly to something now because of past grievances?  Or is the person you’re continuing to blame actually someone from your past (for example, a parent who let you down or abused you)?

If it is a figure from the past, possibly someone you’ve discontinued contact with, it might be time to look into therapy to process the trauma.  Otherwise, that person can continue to victimize you forever.  Resolving those hurts and creating different kinds of healing experiences is key to taking back your power.

You’ll notice that all my suggestions in this post are action-oriented.  They’re about what you can do, once you’ve allowed yourself to fully feel.  That’s deliberate.  Because blaming others is a passive activity, and it’s one that saps your energy without giving anything back.

Again, I’m not saying you have no reason to feel as you do.  In fact, you probably have good reason.  But is it holding you back in your life?  I’m reminded of that old question: Would you rather be right or be happy?  It’s not as easy to answer as it might first appear, and that’s why people so commonly get stuck.

Stubborn image available from Shutterstock.

Blaming Others: Hurts You More Than It Hurts Them

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Blaming Others: Hurts You More Than It Hurts Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 May 2014
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