Switch theme

Other Blame

You blame others and overlook ways you contributed to the problem.


Bob and Alice were on a road trip. Then Bob accidentally hit a wild dog. The dog ran away into the forest, seemingly unharmed, and the car had only slight bruises. Despite the minimal damages, the event was stressful. As a way to cope with the situation, Bob started to blame Alice, since it was her idea to go on this road trip in the first place. In that situation, Alice also reacted emotionally. Instead of trying to see real reasons behind Bob's outburst, she reacted to the blame by being defensive and re-directing his blame to the state forest service. According to Alice, the lack of road signs and information were the reasons behind the "hit". Later, she recalled being wrongly accused, but it was too late to untangle past events and set things straight. Therefore, she decided to get back to Bob in some other way.


Typical patterns:
– The individual responsibility is ignored, and someone else is blamed inadequately.
– Other people or situations are blamed in general, as a habit.

It is tempting to blame other people or some external situations when things don’t go the way we want them to.

When the Other Blame thinking error is in action, a person blames someone else or some external factors for failures he or she is experiencing. It can also be just a habit of looking for faults in others, ignoring personal responsibility and contribution to the situation.

When it is negative and on a personal level, the Other Blame cognitive distortion can create a situation where a person thinks that people are sabotaging his or her endeavors. Not only it isolates, but also creates a negative worldview, which contributes to bad mood and the lack of energy.

Sometimes this error can be used intentionally as a competitive strategy, though the produced results are often short-lived and have negative consequences that follow.

This cognitive distortion can be seen not only on the individual but also on the global scale, when nations are blaming each other, engaging in endless wars. In such situations, each side feels completely right. For them, it is always the other side that is wrong.

The reality is much more complex than a simple Yes or No. The truth is never absolute, and neither reality nor people are obliged to act the way we want them to.

How to fix it

Write the distorted thought in the CBT journal, and then challenge it. Try to understand the reasons and motivations behind situations and actions. Rewrite the negative thought in a realistic and positive way.

The thinking error of the Other Blame is often associated with an individual’s ego and self-worth. That is why it can be hard to challenge this error. But left unchallenged, it creates anger and escalates the conflict, or results in negative mood and depression.