Why did I get shouted at when I just offered help?

Apparently we’ve been built with a very inconvenient mechanism. When we make a mistake, have an accident or feel otherwise pain and discomfort, we start to blame others. We can’t help it.

So maybe you’re one of those people, who get super angry when somebody tries to give you advice when you’re stuck. Or one of those folks who when falling on the street blame the street, the weather, the shoes, the maintenance of the roads and just in case the people passing by? Or perhaps you’re the one who thinks the whole world is being unfair when you face hardship?

The same mechanism is at play in each of these situations

What triggers this mechanism is the feeling of pain and/or discomfort. In each of these cases we feel something unpleasant. When we’re stuck with a problem or situation, we’re frustrated, angry and disappointed at ourselves. When we fall over we feel embarrassed and maybe even some pain. And when we have misfortune, we’re sad and annoyed and perhaps a little bit scared.

We tend to avoid discomfort, pain and negative feelings at all cost. And when we feel those things nonetheless, we fiercely try to get rid of them. For some reason blaming seems to ease the discomfort and that’s why we yell at our environment when we feel bad. Brené Brown has said that the only reason we blame is to ease our own discomfort and pain.

So we blame

When we’re stuck and somebody comes to ask whether we need help, we might yell. And if nobody comes to ask, we might throw the thing towards the wall while shouting something along the lines of “You useless piece of crap!” Because obviously the piece of crap is to blame for our frustration.

When we fall or have an accident, we start to look for somebody or something to blame – environment, circumstance, others. The blaming does make us feel better and pointing fingers and yelling seems to ease the discomfort for a while. But after the moment has passed, it really does not make the situation any better or solve the problem. And it might even cause some new ones.

We might blow up to innocent people about non-related things

The mechanism is so inconvenient because it doesn’t care who we blame and for what. We get frustrated about the piece of crap we’re stuck with so we blow up to our spouse entering the room for something that has nothing to do with the piece of crap. Or if we’re criticised in front of our team and we start to feel hurt, we might criticise our colleagues for something else they did so just we wouldn’t feel so bad.

Because this mechanism is automatic, we’re not really able to stop ourselves. At least not very often. But when we become aware of it, it is much easier to go apologise afterwards and explain what happened. When we understand that we don’t have a proper reason for our blame, it is easier for our ego to admit that this didn’t go quite right.

Or is it? That’s one of the things we’re talking about in Slack.

TL;DR: Why do we blame others when we feel discomfort

  • There’s an automatic mechanism that tries to ease our pain and discomfort.
  • For some reason blaming others seems to help for a while.
  • That is why we tend to blame others for the situation or yell at innocent people about non-related things when we’re feeling bad.
  • To understand this more fully, listen to Brené Brown: Power of Vulnerability.

Or what do you think?

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