By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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Is the blame game a desperate move not to be "wrong," or to get in the last word, or is it an attempt to make sure your point gets across? Do any of those work for you?
Maybe it is easier to see the issue as the other person's fault, maybe it is not taking responsibility, maybe it's wanting to be heard . . .
No matter what your answer, something has triggered or overwhelmed you that you are unable to handle emotionally -- and so you figuratively or literally point the finger at each other. Ouch! Maybe your voice is loud now. Maybe your ears are closed now. Maybe your mind is shut down. Maybe all you see in front of you is this moment.
You may have lost sight of your bigger self and your partner's bigger self, as well as the third entity: your relationship.
Try this: each hold a mirror in front of your face while you are behaving like this. What do you see in your own face? Is this how you want to be, to be seen as?
This is a version of your emotional brain being triggered; you go to fight, flight, or freeze. I know this may be tough to hear: you are always there when this happens. Use your reaction as a clue that you need soothing -- either from yourself and/or from your partner.
When you are calmer, ask yourself a few tough questions:
What do I know about this in myself?
When do I first remember behaving like this?
What feelings trigger my reaction?
Who did I see doing this while growing up?
How does this work well for me?
How does this work poorly for me?
Couples soften to one another when "I" statements are made (vs. "you" statements). Examples: I feel anxious when . . . ; I am sad about . . . ; I don't know how I am feeling . . . ; I feel scared . . . ; I see this . . . ; it sounds to me as though . . . , etc.
Please remember when you made your commitment or took your vows. Is this what you meant then?
Be responsible, which means to respone, not react. When you find yourself in this familiar pattern, shut up! Breathe. "Cause no harm."