This Week's Questions
[posed by Steven P.]
Do you know?
[Question 1] How do I know when I have blamed someone? Is there an easy way to know if something I feel, say, or do is blaming?
What are the three kinds of blame? Blame which involves urges to punish for eternity (Layer 4: Uncivilized blame). Blame which involves urges to punish temporarily (Layer 3: Time Limited Blame. And blame which involves urges to punish either by asking punishing questions or by threatening punishments but then explaining away these urges away. (Layer 2: Civilized Blame).
Now let's look at a few examples.
With Layer 4 blame, Uncivilized Blame, you feel urges to kill, maim, and permanently torture. The burn in hell kinds of urges. Know that ordinary folks can and often do feel these urges, and in no way does having them imply insanity.
Of course, if you feel urges to carry out these urges, you are now moving toward being insane. And if you actually do carry out any of these urges, you have indeed become at least temporarily insane.
The thing to see here is that the essential nature of these punishments is their permanence. Forever burn in hell punishments. Thus these urges are often the most real and personal version of blame, in that when we feel this kind of blame, we are directly in touch with our feelings.
With Layer 3 blame, Time Limited Blame, these emotions tone down a bit. Not a whole lot. But some, to be sure. Thus, with Layer 3 blame, while you may feel urges to send someone to hell, you also want them to be allowed back at some point. Usually when they have repented sufficiently and have asked you for forgiveness enough times.
The essence of this kind of blame then is that you feel urges to temporarily punish as opposed to urges to permanently punish. And these temporary punishments can take many forms, from prison sentences and excommunicating folks to sending teens to their rooms and giving young children time outs. Thus count judges get paid for doling out Layer 3 blame.
The thing to see here though is that, while the urges to punish temporarily are all Layer 3 urges, the reasons for limiting these punishments are often the third kind of blame. Layer 2 blame. Explanations for blaming and excuses for not blaming. Here, parents might grill their late to be home teen with punishing questions such as, "where were you. You knew the rules. You just don't get it, do you." and so on and so on.
Now let's consider how these three kinds of urges to punish play out. In other words, what happens when we actually move past our urges to blame and begin to carry them out.
If you, as a politician, engage in a political argument advocating for the death penalty, you are making a Layer 2 arguments. At the same time, if you, as a criminal court justice, send someone to death row knowing they may be there for years, you are giving someone a Layer 3 punishment. Finally, if you, as a prison warden, officiate over the execution of someone on death row, you are committing the consummate Layer 2 punishment.
Now let's look at the second question; is there an easy way to know if something you feel, say, or do is blaming?
My answer? No. There is no easy way to know if what you are feeling, saying and or doing involves blame. Why not? Because while in theory, there is an easy way; you simply ask yourself if you feel any urges to punish, in reality, this is hard to see. Why? Because most adults cannot see the difference between strong feelings of anger and urges to punish. In fact, when most adults feel urges to blame, they have usually been precipitated by some sort of anger feelings.
For most adults then, urges to punish are usually prefaced and accompanied by feelings of anger. Even so, anger in and of itself is not blame but rather is a Layer 7 experience.
In other words, while most blame is accompanied by feelings of anger, not all anger blames.
Who does feel this kind of anger then? Babies, including newborns. And while some folks may think this statement sounds crazy, some very famous personality theorists have said this same thing.
The thing to see here, of course, is how a baby's anger differs from the anger adults feel when they feel urges to punish someone. Here again, in theory, seeing this difference is simple. Not only are there no visible urges to punish, a baby cannot even feel these urges as feeling them requires the person have a sense of time wherein the punishment follows a crime.
Thus, with Layer 4 blame, we feel urges to send someone to burn in hell forever for a crime. Certainly a long, long time. And with Layer 3 blame, we want to send someone away for a long, long time for a crime. But we also expect that at some point, the person will redeem themselves for doing this crime. Or at least, we hope they will. Finally with Layer 2 blame, we feel urges to punish someone for a crime, but would prefer to only threaten this punishment in hopes it may defer your need to actually punish them. Hence the title; civilized blame.
How does all this differ from what babies feel?
Babies have no sense of ongoing time. Only a sense of time as the present moment. And of course, while this present moment is often literally a here and now event, it may also be a moment from the baby's past or future.
Still not seeing my point? It's simple. We humans have two ways to experience time. One. As a single moment. The one you are currently experiencing, past, present, or future. And two. As a sequence of at least two moments, one of which comes before the other.
The thing to know here is that all human beings experience the first kind of time up to and including about age seven. Thus I call this way of experiencing time, before-seven time. And from about age seven on, and as a result of learning how to tell watch, clock, and calendar time, we can experience time as a sequence of unfolding moments. Which is why I call this way of experiencing time, after-seven time.
Blame requires we can sense time as an ongoing unfolding sequence. Only in this way could we make sense out of feeling urges to punish. Why? Because all punishments follow a crime.
Thus because no human babies sense time this way, babies cannot blame. Moreover this holds true even when they feel what we adults might deem homicidal rage. Why not? Because babies cannot see this anger as being followed by anything. They in fact see no end to what they are feeling. Hence, the depth of their feelings of anger. And every other feeling, in fact.
So, to sum up, there are two theoretical ways to identify blame.  Blame always involves urges to punish. And  blame always involves after-seven time. Moreover, while feelings of anger underlie most urges to blame, feeling anger, in and of itself, does not indicate blame. Hence, new born babies are indeed innocent.
[Question 2] If someone blames me and I feel hurt and angry, are there things I can do to prevent myself from blaming back?
What kind of damage control could you do? The count to five stuff works. As does the walk away advice. And the bite your tongue suggestions.
You should also consider allowing yourself to imagine doing serious violence to this person. In effigy of course. And not with intentions to carry any of this out. This, in fact, is my favorite method of damage control, and in many ways, this resembles the very same experiences young children have when they watch Saturday morning cartoons. You know. The kind wherein a car runs over the rabbit and a moment later, he pops right up again.
The imagined fantasies can help diffuse the kind of anger which left unspoken can eventually burst out of one's mouth. Or out of one's fists. This said, any method which works for you will be good for the moment. However, you must eventually honor this anger or risk the inevitable outburst.
[Question 3] I'm mad at a whole group of people and want to blame them. I, in fact, feel strong urges to blame them but have managed to not act on these urges. What's the best way to handle this?
At the same time, it sounds like you are referring to a prejudice. Thus, these urges to blame are usually very insidious and deeply rooted.
My honest thoughts? If this is the kind of blame you're suffering from, you probably need the help of a competent professional. Someone well versed in helping people to see past their prejudices. For instance, I once had an African American man try to get me to join an anti prejudice group. However, as we spoke, I realized he was largely motivated by his deep rooted feelings toward a white policeman who had frightened him in his youth.
Moments later, he had the emergence and recalled the policeman's hollow eyes staring right through him. Then this was followed by his eyes getting watery and his whole face softening.
I never did hear what happened with this man's anti prejudice group. However, he certainly left that day filled with compassion toward policemen. No small wonder that it happened in such a brief time. As does some of the best healing.
[Question 4] Someone blamed me. I've shared what was said to me with all my friends and they all agree, it was blame. Will telling this to the blaming person ever help?
In other words, just because many people believe hatred is justified, this still does not make feeling this way right. Or real. And if these feelings of hatred are accompanied by urges to punish, then with certainty, these feelings include blame.
The answer then is, if you can tell the person this without blaming, then it might start things moving. However if you cannot do it without blame then you might consider not saying anything at all. At least until you get a better handle on what you feel.
[Question 5] When someone else is angry at us and blaming, can we ever truly see their point of view? Is it even possible to remain conscious while being blamed? Or does blame always render us to some degree unconscious?
When someone else is angry at us and blaming, can we ever truly see their point of view? Yes. Absolutely. However, if you agree with them, you might consider that you too are blaming.
Is it even possible to remain conscious while being blamed? Admittedly it is hard, however, it is indeed possible. Especially if you do not feel shame or guilt about the thing you are accused of. And if you do? Then you will need to do some work on your shame and or guilt. Or on whatever part of what they are saying to you which causes you to over or under react.
So does blame always render us to some degree unconscious? Not always. But frequently it does. Some stuff is simply that provocative to most human beings.