Blaming Others for How You’re Feeling


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Relationships, Thought | Posted on 01-31-2018

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version. See also the corresponding video on this topic.]

Blaming Others For How You FeelA couple of months ago I wrote a blog post on how we attack ourselves and then blame others. Lately, I’ve noticed that blame is even more insidious in our everyday lives than I first realized.

For example, let’s say someone misses a meeting. One would think they could only have themselves to blame. Yet suddenly it’s the meeting host’s fault for not sending out a reminder. Or perhaps someone asks another person to help them with something. Yet when it doesn’t come out quite right, it’s somehow the helper’s fault!

We see this sort of blaming every day…usually related to the insecurities of the blamer. Our fragile little egos hate to admit fault, especially when there’s an easy target at whom we can point our finger.

There are other common forms of blame that are less obvious.

For instance:

Person One says something seemingly innocuous (or not so innocuous) to Person Two, and suddenly Person Two is upset, or hurt and feeling bad. They make no bones about the way they are feeling, and it’s clear (in their mind) that Person One is the cause of their upset.

At this point, Person One can’t help but notice the way Person Two is feeling, and may also start to feel bad. He or she may experience a whole range of emotions–from confusion, to anger, or even sadness.

They may even feel confused by the sudden eruption of anger from Person Two. One minute they were having a good conversation with them, and the next minute–they weren’t. And apparently it was their fault!

Ironically, when Person One is blamed by Person Two, they may lash out in kind at Person Two, for the very same thing–making THEM feel bad!

Now both people feel bad, and both blame the other their feelings.

So what’s at the bottom of this crazy blame game?

We live our lives believing that what others say has the power to upset us.

And as long as we think that’s true, we’ll blame others every single time we’re upset.

Yet it’s not true.

Even if Person One called Person Two the worst names imaginable, it cannot cause Person Two to be upset.

It’s physically impossible for anyone’s words to ever create upset feelings in another.  And it’s a good thing, because complete chaos would ensue if they could.

If someone’s words could somehow magically force another person to be upset, people could run around in the streets shouting upsetting words, and every single person who heard them would become upset. Now that’s just crazy!

Thankfully, there’s no cause and effect between words said and feelings created in another person.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree that it often looks as if words said can cause feelings and reactions in another. I am tricked by it ALL THE TIME! The reason for this trickery is because there’s very often a strong correlation between the words said by one person and the upset feelings in another.

But any young scientist knows that correlation does not imply causation.

The same sort of mixing up of cause and effect used to happen in my old search engine optimization (SEO) days. People would change some words on their website, and a few weeks (or days) later, they’d notice their rankings in Google would change. In other words, there was a correlation between changing the words and their new position in the search engine. But that didn’t mean the word changes were what caused the ranking changes. There were possibly plenty of other factors involved. This was such a common misunderstanding in the SEO world, that some of us used to joke that on the days when we placed a cabbage on our monitor, our rankings went up. Therefore, it was a good idea to keep a cabbage on your monitor if you wanted better rankings!

Sounds silly, right?

It’s no different with blaming what others say, for how we feel.

Whether it’s something someone said, or someone putting a cabbage on their monitor, neither can make us feel upset. (Nor change our search engine rankings!)

By now you’re probably confused, and perhaps even upset about what I’m saying here.

If what other people say can’t cause us to be upset, then what causes it?

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you probably know what’s coming next…

The one and only thing that can cause us to ever feel upset is…

[Drumroll please]

Thought in the moment.

It’s the thoughts that happen to be running through our brain that cause us to feel upset (or any other feeling).

If this sounds like we, ourselves are then to blame for our upset, that’s not true either.

You see, we have no power over our thoughts.

In fact, even calling them “our thoughts” is a misnomer.

We don’t create our thoughts and we certainly don’t own our thoughts. Upset thoughts can come into our awareness at any time. Sometimes they come when someone says something to us. Yet other times, they don’t. In fact, the same person can say the same thing at two different times or days. Some days we get upset, and other days we don’t. By the very same words!


Therefore, when we think we’re upset because of something someone said to us, it’s just not true. We’re really upset because some random thoughts flowed into our head and we latched onto them and gave them meaning.

It’s not the other person’s fault. Nor is it our fault. It simply is what it is. As soon as we see it this way, all upset miraculously vanishes.

Cool, huh? –Jill

Here’s a video that goes along with this blog post:

Prefer listening? Click the green arrow below!

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CONTACT JILL WHALEN to learn how she may help you be the best you can be.

Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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Leave Your Thoughts Below(4)

Hi Jill,

wonderful how you explain what is actually true. It’s always good to get reminded that’s thought in the moment which makes us feel the way we feel when we believe what we think.

I like the more simple way and that is seeing thoughts as thoughts which immediately enables me to step back, to be aware.

I already subscribed your YouTube channel,
all the best,

Thanks, Susanne! It seems we can’t be reminded enough! (Speaking for myself.)

Hi Jill,

This was a very good article and the first of yours I have read. I agreed with the main bulk of it, specifically that our own thoughts upset us, not external situations and other people. Though, do you not feel that what people say can affect our thoughts, and if we have no power over our thoughts, this will affect us emotionally?

I would argue that in fact we do have power over our ‘random’ thoughts and that we can make a conscious decision to not let them affect us on an emotional level, often by consciously counterating them with more rational thoughts.

I haven’t had time to watch the accompanying video, so apologies if I have missed or misunderstood anything you said!



Hi Mark,

Welcome to my blog!

I don’t think we have much power over our thoughts on any sort of consistent basis. However, you are on to something with your comment, which I wrote about in this post: Freedom of Choice and Living a Guided life.

Please let me know if that is more in line with what you’re saying.