How To Stop Being A Scapegoat and Being Scapegoated - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

How To Stop Being A Scapegoat and Being Scapegoated

When I say ‘scapegoat’ many of you know exactly what I’m talking about already.  For those of you that don’t, a scapegoat is a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others (despite other people being either entirely or also at fault) especially for reasons of expediency.  The word originates from Judaism. During mass reconciliation, a rabbi would bring a goat to the alter. The idiotic idea was that sins of the people would be absorbed into the goat, and it would then be killed.  When its blood would spill over the alter, those sins were said to be cleansed.

In a human social group, like a family, there are complex interactions that take place and roles that people end up in.  The emotional interdependence in even the most abusive and disconnected homes still makes it so that a change in one person creates reciprocal changes in every other member of the group.  In a dysfunctional social group or a dysfunctional family (and usually on a subconscious level) the strongest member of the family, the one that does not play into the dysfunction, is targeted as “the problem”.  All of the emotional and mental discomfort that is experienced by the group as a whole is deflected and projected into this person, who is expected to bear it so that the other members of the group don’t have to face that discomfort in themselves.  The subconscious goal is in fact disguised catharsis. The scapegoat is someone who is strong enough to suffer so that the other members don’t have to.  

In a family, the person who ends up in the role of the scapegoat is not actually to blame any more than the goat is.  It is that their character, thoughts, feelings, words and actions and also accomplishments causes the unresolved issues of the other family members to surface.  At which point, instead of resolving them, they deflect the unresolved issues onto that person and label them ‘the cause of their distress’.  

Here is an example: A mother doesn’t actually want a child.  But she has been led by society to believe that this is the only acceptable role for her in life.  So she has a child. This child has her own desires and needs. When the mother has to cater to the needs and desires of the child, it brings up her fury and pain and resentment that she has to dedicate herself to someone else’s needs.  It brings up the reality that she doesn’t want a child. This makes her feel shame. To avoid that wound and that shame, this mother will make the child the problem. “You’re so selfish” she will say when the child asks for something. She will be constantly exasperated and tell the story that her life ended when her daughter’s began.  She has made the problem the child and projected her own sins so to speak onto the child in order to avoid the discomfort of accepting that she does not want a child and that she is selfish in that she wants to do what she wants to do, not dedicate her life to another person’s care. This child is now the scapegoat.       

Of course it is difficult for a scapegoat in a social group to believe that he or she isn’t somehow guilty or to blame because it doesn’t make sense that if he or she wasn’t to blame that he or she would be treated that way.  The scapegoat spends years in complete confusion, searching for what is wrong with them in order to try to fix it, but can’t ever genuinely find anything that makes sense given the severity of the treatment. And no matter what they do, the behavior of the other members of the social group never seem to change towards them.  What the scapegoat doesn’t understand is that there was never any motive in the other members of the group for them to not be a problem.  That is part of the gas light.  It is actually serving the other members of the group to keep them the problem so as to avoid facing and resolving their own wounds.   

The scapegoat can pay a lifelong price for sins that he or she did not ever commit.  And because of the way that this universe functions, this pattern of being scapegoated comes back in the life of the scapegoat over and over again.  Even if they do exit the original family group, they are likely to be turned into a scapegoat again in their lives. Aside from not recognizing this entire dynamic in the first place (and thus realizing that they didn’t actually do anything wrong, they were simply the family scapegoat) there are some factors that act like emotional super glue that actually keep people who were scapegoated in this cycle of continuously being scapegoated.  And it is this emotional super glue that I am going to help you to undo today.  

The top four things that act like emotional super glue to being a scapegoat are the following:

  1. Accepting this role was literally the only way to stay safe in the social group.  And so this is now your pattern of fitting in.
  2. Accepting responsibility made you not like the people who hurt you.
  3. You love people who take responsibility, you find them safe and so you do not want to entertain the idea of letting any of that responsibility go.  Plus, you are only in control if you take 100% of it. 
  4. No one else in the social group was taking any responsibility and so you were forced to be the one to do it for all of them.  This is now a habit.

To address the first super glue, in a social group that turns you into the scapegoat, you have two options:  Conform immediately so they turn someone else into the scapegoat or suffer the wrath of being the outcast and blamed and suffer the consequences.  In some cases, for one reason or another, you cannot conform. Even when you can, you know that conforming doesn’t get you love; it simply gives you a different kind of safety in exchange for a different form of danger.  It guarantees you closeness and rapport in exchange for the loss of self. You have to completely buy into the group dysfunction and let go of your true feelings, needs, desires and anything else that could threaten to trigger their unresolved issues.  The role of the scapegoat and the role of the golden child in a social group are both not actually safe. They are simply polar opposite forms of un-safety. But, in many case, accepting the role of the scapegoat may have been the only way for someone to not end up completely alone, which is the single biggest threat to survival for a member of a socially dependent species, which is what humans are.  

The way this works is that once you accept the role of scapegoat, you begin to buy into the idea that you are the problem.  The minute you do this, you are no longer resisting them saying that you’re the problem. You’re agreeing. Due to your non-resistance to the blame you are being given and the horrible identity you are being accused of, the people making you the scapegoat are now free to switch up their game and avoid their own issues further.  They do this by seeing themselves as the healer and fixer of you. It is at this point that the scapegoat becomes the identified patient in the social group. They use the idea of themselves as a good person for focusing on helping and fixing you to further avoid their own pain. The thing is, they are creating the very pain in you that they say is your personality defect and flipping it so as to heal it.  This is disgusting when you really get it. It is one of the most insidious forms of gas lighting. Imagine I was to walk up and hit you as hard as I can and then, when you fall to the floor, get down on the floor with you and say “I just don’t know why you’re in pain all the time. It’s making all of our lives really, really hard because by being down on the floor all the time, you’re taking all the attention away from everyone.  But I love you, so I’m going to take you to a doctor to figure out why you’re in pain like this.” That is life for a scapegoat in a family unit. The vast majority of children who are brought to psychologists and psychiatrists are in fact family scapegoats in this exact situation. But the sad thing is that playing into this pattern by accepting themselves as the problem, saves the scapegoat from abandonment, annihilation and further wounding by the people in their lives.      

The problem is that because of this extreme gas-lighting, you learn to ignore the punch and only feel the connection inherent in the person trying to fix you.  Your only reference for feeling loved is when people who see you as the problem, are putting energy into helping you to get better or change or be fixed. This exchange is the safest feeling because it was the closest you could get to the people who mattered to you.  Because this is your reference for love and safety, blaming yourself, seeing yourself as the problem and having people help fix you is a pattern you repeat and repeat in order to get your emotional and even physical needs met, feel close to people and feel safe socially.  You pick people who do this to you and do not end relationships with people who do this to you.

To address the second super glue, if only at a subconscious level, you actually did see what was going on.  Too many times, especially if your strength is your mind, you have seen the truth in these interactions. For example, you know mom doesn’t really want a kid and so you see that it is her being mean to you and yet blaming you for being a ‘bad kid’ for the reaction you have to it.  And so, even when you begin to doubt your own character and actions, you know that there is extreme deflection and projection going on. To understand more about deflection and projection, watch my videos titled: Deflection (the coping mechanism from hell) and Projection (understanding the psychology of projection).

You see that them not taking responsibility for their wrong doings and badness and actual truth is destroying your life.  You clearly see that doing this makes them bad. Because of a life of being treated as if you are evil, you are on a life long quest to become good.  So, clearly seeing this ‘badness’ in them, you make a subconscious vow to never, never do to someone what they are doing to you. You make a vow to at the very least make sure that you are never, ever going to be like them in this way.  Your wires become a bit crossed. Now, your only way of being good is to seek out how you are at fault and to take the blame and blame yourself. The problem is that this is a universe based on the law of mirroring. If you do this, it makes you a match to being blamed, even when something isn’t your fault.  Thus the cycle of being scapegoated repeats.

To address the third superglue, having been so hurt by being blamed wrongly and suffered the consequences of being labeled the wrong/bad one; you have now developed a complete love affair with the characteristic of doing the opposite of what they did to you.  You LOVE people who take responsibility. This is profoundly healing for you. But this complete adoration you have for people taking responsibility and this glorification of the trait itself has caused you to adopt the trait of hyper responsibility. It has caused you to swing the pendulum completely to the far end of the scale, where you take responsibility and blame for anything and everything.  By taking 100% of the responsibility and blame, you feel superior in that goodness and also you feel in control and thus safe. If something is someone else’s responsibility or fault, you are inherently not in control. And you don’t trust them to do it. You can’t do anything to change the situation or rectify it. But if it is all in your hands, you can.  

To address the fourth superglue, because you were conditioned that no one will take responsibility, especially for their own issues, you were also conditioned to be the one to automatically do it.  It is pure habit. You do this naturally. You do not believe that anyone will take responsibility and so you believe you have no other choice but to do it yourself. You take responsibility for what is and isn’t yours to take responsibility for, thinking that there is no other option.  Take a look at your life for what might be someone else’s responsibility. Ask yourself, if I didn’t take responsibility for X what would happen?  For example, it is another person’s responsibility to come resolve an issue with you when they have one.  Ask yourself, if I didn’t take responsibility for noticing when another person has an issue with me and bringing up the issue to resolve it, what would happen?  This level of hyper responsibility for others will incapacitate you one day and guarantee that no one around you will take responsibility. You will be a magnet for people who don’t want to take responsibility. 

 I find it helpful to imagine that people in the world are a part of you.  Would you want yourself to continue not facing your unresolved issues, owning your personal truth and not taking responsibility?  If the answer is no, then don’t enable them to do that.

The bottom line is that because of the way you adapted to being the scapegoat, you are a perfect vibrational match to repeated scapegoating.  You need to look at what truly is and what truly isn’t yours in any situation. What is keeping you from doing this is that anytime you look at how something isn’t your fault, you feel like you’re headed straight towards becoming like those people who you hate because they hurt you so badly.  You think you are the good guy for taking all the blame. You can only be good for taking responsibility for what is yours. Otherwise, you have turned into an enabler. You enable people to be like those people who hurt you. You enable their dysfunction as well as pattern of deflecting and projecting and allow them to avoid the unresolved issues and pain, which means they will continue to hurt and hurt other people.

You’ve got to see that now, the consequences that you were so afraid of, like abandonment or annihilation would actually be better than being seen and treated as the bad guy forever.  There are so many consequences of being in that role. So it actually isn’t safe. It also isn’t love. First of all, they are causing the very issues they are saying are inherent to you and that they now want to help you to fix about yourself.  It isn’t because of love that people try to fix you. It is because they want to feel good about themselves so they can avoid looking at their own unresolved issues and painful authentic truths. They feed their self-concept with pieces they sacrifice from you, completely to your detriment.  They do not love you, even if they use those words.

In a universe based on the law of mirroring, people who blame themselves are blamed.  You need to see how much trouble you could get in being blamed for things you have no fault in if you are determined to blame yourself to maintain a sense of goodness.  You do not need to worry about becoming like these people who hurt you. You are more than willing to see what you did wrong and to see things that are negative about yourself.  You’ve been practicing this bravery all your life. You do need to swing the pendulum back towards what’s healthy. It is inauthentic and not in reality to adhere to one extreme like that.  The way to swing the pendulum back towards healthy is to own up to your authentic truth and own up to reality and be responsible for it.

People scapegoat when they aren’t being authentic about their personal truths, feelings, thoughts, desires and needs etc.  So, staying authentic to exactly what the brutal and honest truth of your feelings, thoughts and desires and needs are, is the best way to not become like them.  OWN your truth to not be like them, don’t blame yourself to not be like them. The time has come to learnt to discern what is yours and what is someone else’s. Chose to be in a relationship with people who take responsibility for what is theirs.  When two people each look at what is theirs, this is a healthy relationship. Being around people who take responsibility will help you to see what is and isn’t yours. It will help you to feel safe in the relationship while still changing things that don’t benefit you and expanding.  If you continue to blame yourself to stay good, you will be a magnet for people who love to get away with blaming others and never looking at themselves.

If you suffer from this pattern of being scapegoated, I have too many videos that target the mental and emotional aftermath you are experiencing to list.  But I highly suggest you watch my following videos: The Defective Doll (Dysfunctional Relationships). Responsibility, Why, When and How to Take It. How To Call Bull S#!t On Denial.  How To Let Go of a Coping Mechanism. The Hidden Truth About Dysfunctional Relationships. The Victim Control Dynamic. Why You Can’t Feel Loved For Who You Are. Self Concept, The Enemy of Awakening and Self Hate, The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism.

As a recovering scapegoat, you’ve got to un-gaslight yourself.  Because the other members of the social group have all bought into the dysfunction, no one else in the social group is going to have the same estimation of reality that you do.  Make reality your secret obsession. Most scapegoats end up truth seeker and truth tellers because of this. Gas-lighting makes you feel and even go insane. So, restoring your sense of reality and getting grounded in it is critical.  Part of this is seeing the impact of being scapegoated on the various aspects of your life.

Get realistic expectations.  If you are genuinely being scapegoated, really see your dysfunctional family or social group accurately.  The reality is that by expecting them to accept your reality and accept the fact that things aren’t your fault and you aren’t bad/wrong, you are actually expecting them to face their unresolved issues and painful personal truths and own up to them.  Are they really going to do it? Everyone has the potential to do it, but having the potential to do it does not mean that they will choose to. For the most part, you can expect them to not change at all. And to be clear, this does not mean that you should enable it by playing into the dysfunction any more than it means you should expect that they will change.

Because of the complex trauma and anxiety that have come out of this social pattern, I highly suggest that you pick up a copy of my book titled: The Completion Process and begin to use the process to resolve the unresolved wounds that have occurred because of having been scapegoated.

If you watch my video tiled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease, you will learn about fragmentation.  Know that if you are a scapegoat, you have a part or fragment within you that is scapegoating you. It is an internalized pattern.  Come to recognize and know this part of yourself deeply so that you can shift some of the patterns inherent within it.

Shame is the bedrock of the self-concept of someone who is scapegoated.  But shame is one of the most poorly understood things on the planet. The way that most experts advise people to overcome shame actually makes it worse.  Shame is a biological affective reaction that arises as a result of pushing a part of yourself away. In order to overcome shame, we need to reverse this process.  For a thorough understanding of how to do this, pick up a copy of my book titled The Anatomy Of Loneliness. Even though every page of the book will help you if you’ve been scapegoated, you can flip to the entire section of the book that is specifically about shame.

Healing from the pattern of being scapegoated is going to be a grief process, especially if you are clinging to fantasies about having better relationships with abusive people if you could only make them “get it”.  But hopefully seeing some of the main things that keep you reinforcing the pattern will help you to get yourself out of it.


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