But should I have still been upset? Aside from the fact that the answer is obviously "no", it always stays with me when I go through a painful experience with nothing gained. I felt like we never should have been angry in the first place, but given that we were should I be angry at that person for precipitating the anger?
Let's lay some blame. First of all, the situation was a bad one to begin with, and bad situations often end up with people feeling bad or angry even though no one is really at fault. But beyond that, I feel that I was the one who really set things off. When I had an opportunity to de-escalate and find a helpful resolution I instead barked my opinion which led to a chain of harsh toned words.
Of course I wasn't the only one with a chance to ameliorate things, but all-in-all, I would put this one in the "we were both at fault" category with a nod to the possibility of "I was at fault."
When you examine a situation where you were hurt - not just where something bad happened, but when you personally had a painful emotional experience - you could judge
- that it was someone else who did something to you
- that it was a circumstance that no one really had control of (which includes, in my mind, a situation where something could have been avoided but was caused by everyone acting reasonably with the information they had)
- that the blame is shared between you and another person
- that you were to blame.
I feel like a significant majority of people simply never entertain (4) as a possibility, that a majority wouldn't even go with (3) and that a sizeable part of the population never even think of (2). I do a lot of mental work to be suspicious of my self-interest creeping into my judgements. I feel like that's the best thing to do, but in a categorical imperative kind of way. It would sure benefit everyone if everyone did it, but the reward to myself for being willing to be critical of myself sure feels like nothing almost all of the time. The only thing that would be worse would be not doing it and then having to look back in regret at what a moron I was.