We are all masters at blaming others. “Find the Bad Guy” is an exercise to show off your skills. You will learn all the clever ways we blame others. It also helps you learn how to avoid that awful feeling couples have after a fight ends in blaming and silence.
Step 1: Create the Context – Think about when you made a mistake in a social situation. Maybe you dropped a food tray at someone’s house, stubbed your toe on the couch, or offended someone in a conversation. It was your fault.
Write down that situation.
Step 2: Chart the Narrative: When we do something wrong, most of us have a brilliant way of creating an automatic narrative that moves the blame onto others. Here are some examples of those excuses.
“She didn’t tell me the tray was so heavy. How do they expect me to carry a heavy tray when children and pets are running around?”
“Why did my mom move the couch? Of course, I stubbed my toe. It was perfectly fine where it was, but she’s always changing things.”
“He is too sensitive. I made an honest mistake. How am I supposed to know that he lost his job? That’s not on me. That’s on him.”
Write down three ways you could blame someone else for the abovementioned example.
Step 3: Challenge the Narrative: Write down three ways a friend or family member may respond negatively to your remarks stated in Step 2.
Step 4: Chart the Reaction: What would be your typical response if you hear someone challenge your narrative of blaming someone else?
Step 5: Reframe the Context to Marriage: See if you remember a similar incident with your spouse. What did you use to “win” the fight and prove your innocence?
How did you accuse your partner? What are your usual comebacks when you feel cornered?
How did you feel about yourself? How did you feel about your partner? How did you feel about the connection between the two of you?
What happened after the “Find the Bad Guy” fight? Were you able to go back to talk about the fight and console each other? If not, how did you deal with the loss of safety between you?
Step 6: Write a summary of the insights you learned from this exercise. Extra points if you can share your blame pattern with your partner.
Johson, Sue. Hold Me Tight. London: Hatchette UK Company, 2008.