You probably don’t think about scapegoating much.
But it’s at the center of a lot of toxic situations: in our personal lives and workplaces. Even in politics.
In scapegoating, we unconsciously project our shadows onto others.
By projecting responsibility and blame on others, we get to avoid negative feelings about ourselves. We may even get a sense of gratification.
Scapegoating means unfairly blaming a person or a group of people for something when the blame lies elsewhere or when the situation is a lot more complex.
Though people find reasons for criticizing and ostracising the person (or group), the behavior isn’t driven by reason.
It’s driven by unmet emotional needs.
For example, in families, scapegoating is often a way to hide problems that they can’t face.
So, what to do?
This isn’t easy stuff. It’s traumatizing.
But here are three things to start with:
- Develop your boundaries. Accept only what’s truly your responsibility. Give back what is not.
- Remove yourself.
Being on the receiving end of this behavior can keep us stuck for years. It continually triggers negative beliefs about your worth and value. It leads to anxiety, depression and even suicide. Get yourself out of the dynamic.
- Refrain from arguing. If you’ve been a victim of scapegoating or someone projecting their shadows onto you (and pretty much everyone has at some point), then you’ve probably fallen into the trap of trying to prove yourself.
You’ll never be able to prove that you’re not the bad guy, because the behavior isn’t actually about you.
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