Tag Archives: personal boundaries

Scapegoating

Mocking_Bird_Argument

Why do conflicts happen? One reason is scapegoating. You are having a chat with someone, be it partner, friend, mum, brother, TV technician or whomever and all of a sudden all hell breaks loose. What was just a chat or discussion ends up being an argument as differing opinions and experiences have triggered something in the other (or you) and it is not going down too well.

Scapegoating is usually a subconscious reaction whereby the one who is being triggered turns the discussion around and makes it about the other in order to make themselves blameless so as not to burden themselves with the emotions, feelings and thoughts that are being triggered. It is a form of defense. They don’t want to feel the feelings and will do and say most anything in order not to do so.

Generally, the one who is being used as the scapegoat either defends themselves and argues back or they withdraw within themselves and become silent.  Either way they have taken on the scapegoaters intentions and have now taken on the burden of being the one who is feeling bruised and battered while the scapegoater feels justified in blaming the other for the argument and everything that ensued, including the fact that the other made them feel bad and yelled at them and therefore deserved to be told some home truths! They walk away not totally unscathed but much lighter as they dumped everything on the scapegoat leaving the scapegoat wondering what the hell happened and with a bag of mixed emotions and feelings to boot!

It can take time to see how this pattern plays out. If you find you are constantly getting angry and defending yourself or walking on eggshells with another or are at the end of blame and hearing how everything is your fault because you are faulty…then you are more than likely playing the role of the scapegoat.  The good thing with seeing the pattern play out is that you no longer have to engage in the game. If you find yourself defending yourself and making the other at fault by listing their faults and blaming them for whatever is going on…then you are playing the role of the scapegoater. We can also play both roles! Both roles are not only damaging to those playing the roles but are damaging to all relationships they have and only compound the idea of not mattering, feeling unacknowledged and unheard and being unlovable and lonely.

The scapegoater needs to become aware of how they handle differences, blame and conflict, while the scapegoat needs to set boundaries, and both need to learn how to acknowledge and feel their emotions fully to start to break the pattern of scapegoat and/or scapegoater.