You decide you need to apologize to your mate for raising your voice at them. You know that it was inappropriate and was not being respectful. You muster up enough humility to go up to your spouse and say, “I’m sorry that I raised my voice at you. That was inappropriate.” If you leave it at that it would be a perfectly acceptable apology! But then you add, “But if you would have listened to me….” Now the apology changed into shifting blame.
Shifting blame is easy to do. Even hard not to do sometimes! It is human nature to be the best that we can be. Even when we know we have done something wrong and apologize for it, subconsciously we don’t want it to be our fault. Therefore, we start shifting blame.
This is not a new phenomenon. Think back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden…
Then the man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” –Genesis 3:12-13
They were even shifting blame back then! It is indeed human nature. However, God saw through it and held them both accountable. He does the same now as well. He does not want us shifting blame, but taking responsibility for our own actions.
Apology vs Shifting Blame
An apology is a standalone statement asking forgiveness for something we are taking responsibility for.
Shifting blame is when we attempt to apologize, but say it was someone or something else’s fault we acted the way we did.
Ways Apologizing Turns into Shifting Blame
1. Using the word “but” at the end of the apology.
- “I am sorry for getting upset, but if you would have listened to me…”
2. Bringing up their actions instead of yours.
- “When you ignore me it makes me upset and I then raise my voice.”
3. Saying “Next time could you ____ instead of ____?”
- “Next time could you listen instead of ignoring me?”
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes there are times that things need to be discussed. If your mate did something that truly made you upset which is why you raised your voice it probably needs to be discussed so it can be avoided in the future. There are proper communication techniques to use to do that so both parties feel safe and open during the discussion. However, using “I statements” and “I feel” statements are still recommended rather than shifting blame.
Why Should We Not Shift Blame?
When we shift blame it is no longer about our actions, but we are attacking our partner. We are not taking responsibility for what we did. That is not the purpose of an apology. To apologize is to acknowledge what we have done and ask forgiveness. Blame and attack make it very hard to forgive and move forward with the issue at hand!
Leave a comment below: On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being easy) how hard is it to apologize without shifting blame?