Our feelings could be described as animating, messy, powerful, raw, real, sudden, unpredictable, and even wild. Everyone experiences a spectrum of feelings every day. Although we are responsible for our own feelings, what we feel is also influenced, heightened, dampened, or muted by others.
When a breaking point with an intense feeling is reached, it is easy to blame others for what we are experiencing. It can be calming and soothing to blow off steam, complain, point the finger at others, avoid responsibility, and get attention. Most of us, however, are able to shortly realize that we are at fault and take ownership of our feelings, and our role in the situation.
If we are struggling with substance abuse, our feelings can seem even more intense, erratic, and extreme, and it can be even harder to take responsibility for ourselves. It could be even more tempting to blame others for the way we feel. You might be wondering why we blame others or why is it so challenging to take ownership of our feelings while struggling with a substance use disorder.
Why Blame Others?
- Blaming others is a way to get attention, and continue the victim narrative. If there aren’t healthy strategies, coping techniques, or known ways to get appropriate attention from others, blaming others is a way to get sympathy. This blaming comes from a broken heart, a history of not feeling safe to share emotions, and not feeling seen or heard.
- If internal pain, shame, and guilt become unbearable, they can be projected onto others in the form of blame. This allows someone to express negative feelings without having to acknowledge the truth that they are speaking about themselves. This blame can stem from low self-esteem, and an inability to self-reflect without devolving into self- hatred, self- loathing, and despair.
- Blaming others for our feelings is a way to avoid any additional responsibility. If we accept responsibility for our feelings, we might have to take ownership for other parts of our life, and many of us living with substance use disorder aren’t ready to do that. The rest of life is too scary to even consider or process.
- An individual with a substance use disorder can be disconnected from their actions, and that will naturally extend to feelings as well. Separating from behavior and emotions is a way to cope with painful experiences, and is a harmful defense mechanism. Especially if there has been trauma early on in life, the body, mind, and heart can detach from what’s happening and what’s being felt as a confused form of self-protection. A lifetime of separation from ourselves can perpetuate blame.
- Blaming others for feelings is a way to justify actions, destructive behavior, and continue substance abuse. This martyr or victim narrative allows someone with a substance use disorder to believe they are entitled to use, because if everything in their life has gone horribly, then they can validate use of drugs and alcohol, because they deserve to feel good. Additionally, if there is denial around the negative consequences and harmful feelings from substance use, there is no reason to stop. These types of rationality feed the disease.
- Someone struggling with a substance use disorder might be so disempowered, defeated, or depressed in their disease that they don’t even know about themselves, what they are feeling, where feelings come from, or who they even belong to. The culmination of these misunderstandings can cause blame and anger to come out at the world in hurtful and unfair ways. Moreover, someone might not even realize they are blaming others, which speaks to the degree of support and compassion they need. It takes a lot of deep work, therapy, and commitment to change to begin to unravel and navigate the world of feeling and emotion. Unless this opportunity is taken or provided, a pattern of blaming others will continue.
- Blaming others for feelings can happen if someone is afraid of how they feel. It can seem that actually experiencing and owning feelings would be too much to deal with. If the pain is too great, and someone believes they don’t have the skills or tools to handle it, a cycle of deflecting feelings will continue.
- Think about how often in our life we blame others: it happens frequently, instinctively, and without much thought. If this natural human reaction is compounded with a substance use disorder, it can be even harder to take control of ourselves and ownership of our feelings. The intentions aren’t always malicious, but instead, speak to a tremendous degree of pain and confusion.
If you are ready and wanting to regain ownership of yourself and your feelings, contact us at Ashley Addiction Treatment. We are committed to walking the path of recovery by your side, and will provide comprehensive and therapeutic support every step of the way. Our calm and serene campus is located on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, in Northern Maryland, and there you will feel safe, seen, and held as you embark on the brave and beautiful path to healing. You deserve a life joyfully experienced, and fully felt.
For more information, or to take the next steps, contact us at (800) 799-4673.