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· You made me do it.
· You drove me to it.
· I wouldn’t have done that, but you forced me...
It sounds almost comical to read the examples above, but it’s a sad truth that we often say things that imply we have no responsibility for our own actions, and shouldn’t be held accountable, because somehow, another person forced us, or “made us do it”.
Yet, we say things like that, often without thinking, and most often when we are emotionally upset, and embarrassed about doing something we regret. The more upset human beings become, the more likely we are to revert to more child-like responses. Make no mistake about it, these responses are things that children often say.
Let’s take a closer look at what these statements mean, and why you should completely eliminate them from your vocabulary.
Looking at these phrases literally, they don’t make any sense unless you buy in to the idea that another person can totally control your behavior, and that you have no choice whatsoever. While you may feel you have limited choices, or that the choices available to you are all unpleasant, you DO always have choices.
Since the phrases aren’t literally true, they tend to provoke arguments about who is responsible for what, with both parties claiming they aren’t responsible, while at the same time, trying to blame each other. It just doesn’t work.
Consider also how these statements portray you. It’s hard to like or respect people who feel they are powerless, or try to blame others for their own actions, while claiming NO responsibility for their own behavior. Is avoiding responsibility so important to you that you are willing to look this way to other people? Probably not.
In close relationships, abdication of one’s own responsibility is a death knell. It creates an extremely unhealthy climate for both people.
Keep in mind that YOU are accountable for your own behavior, and while you might be influenced by the other person, you still choose your own actions. Of course, that also means you can’t be blamed for THEIR behavior, so it cuts both ways.
Make It Better:
Take responsibility for what you do and say. Don’t take responsibility for what others do and say, but it’s good to keep in mind that in any relationship, people influence each other, but do not control each other.
Here are some better phrasings:
· I’m sorry I said that. I just get so angry with you when you talk to me in a way that sounds patronizing to me, that I sometimes lash out.
· Sometimes I feel like I get backed into a corner, and don’t have any choices, so I sometimes do things I regret. I’m sorry.
· Yes, I did that. It wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m taking responsibility for it.