How to Stop the Blame Game
When you check your own mind properly, you stop blaming others for your problems.
What is your first reaction when something bad happens to you? If you slip and fall whom do you blame? If it is raining outside and you are soaking wet, whom do you blame? When the power goes out, do you rail at the hydro company for being incompetent or do you accept the fact that that sometimes these kinds of things happen?
I am not accusing anyone here of reacting badly. We have all been there. We have all had our fuses too short and our patience tried. The fact of the matter is that sometimes we are like lost passengers in a boat with an incompetent (so we think) captain. Our boat gets tossed by the waves and we feel powerless to do anything about it. So we blame the captain because it is certainly not our fault. Maybe the captain should have warned us about the weather. Maybe he should have been better trained to deal with these storms or maybe he should have canceled the trip. Anyway, it’s all his fault, isn’t it?
Why Do We Play the Blame Game?
We are Emotional Creatures
It is easier for us to project our feelings onto someone else than it is to look inward and face them. We tend not to want to deal with our emotions, nor do we feel comfortable doing so. It is easier and gives us a fleeting sense of relief to project blame into someone else so that they can somehow vicariously relieve us of our feelings. By projecting blame onto someone else we gain a short-lived sensation that there is someone responsible and thankfully, it is not us. It is our attempt to make ourselves look good (innocent) and the other person look bad (guilty) so that ( at least in our minds) what is wrong has been righted.
We Like to Justify Ourselves out of Responsibility
We are primarily emotional creatures with a unique ability to reason. In fact, we would rather downplay or deny or ignore our emotions and simply rely on our ability to rationalize our behavior. Another way to say this would be that our emotions tell the truth but we would prefer not to hear the truth and so we justify to tell ourselves a different reality – our reality as we see it. We are such creative beings; we can explain and justify ourselves out of any situation. We also believe that whenever something happens or goes wrong, there must necessarily be a culprit. Since we are not the culprit, we need to point out exactly who is and justify or own innocent behavior.
The culture we live in has trained us up to think and believe this way. Our culture s a naturally judgemental society where we are taught that where there is a problem, there is also a culprit.
Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. – Pema Chodron
We Want Life to Feel Safe
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life was a safe journey if everything worked according to our expectations and everyone completely understood us? We don’t live in that utopic world. Life is not fair and life is not safe. We would like to feel exempt and safe from errors, criticisms and any negative consequences of our actions; this would make us feel safe. When bad things happen, or when others do not act the way we think they should, shifting the blame away from ourselves onto someone else can give us a short-lived sense of relief because the focus is not on us. This makes us feel safe. Feelings of guilt and remorse make us feel unsafe so we try to get rid of them so that we can protect ourselves and move on.
Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them. – Byron Katie
We Need to Protect Our Egos
The human ego is a fragile thing. It is always on the lookout for anything that might attack or undermine it. Since we are all emotional beings, we all have egos that can get a bit testy under certain conditions. When we perceive that we are being treated unfairly or that there is some risk to our personal integrity or reputation – that we might “lose face” so to speak, blaming others is an offensive strategy that we use in order to “defend our honor”. Sometimes we are in the right so we shift the blame to expose the culprit and defend our territory. Sometimes we are in the wrong and know it, but we blame to deflect attention off of ourselves.
We Expect Life To Be Fair
There is no fairness or unfairness n life. Life is what it is and it is always changing. But accepting this truth is hard for our egos to accept. We want life to be fair, at least we want it to be fair for us. Our emotions (our own personal soldiers) are quite happy to go to war for us and defend our injustices (or perceived injustices). It can be hard for us to reconcile with the fact that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned – things happen, people don’t behave as we think they should. Because, at some level, we expect fairness, whether it is merited or not, it becomes easier for us to look outward to find the guilty party responsible for not playing according to the rules of fairness. It is easier to locate a scapegoat than it is the acknowledge that we are responsible for our life.
Your failures won’t hurt you until you start blaming them on others. – Zig Ziglar
How to Stop the Blame Game
Admit Mistakes and Don’t Blame Others for Your Errors
Not only will you gain the respect of others when you own up to your flaws and errors, but you will also gain increased self-respect as well. People who have healthy self-respect typically look inward to examine themselves before assigning blame to others. When you take ownership for your own shortcomings, you will also gain loyalty from those around you because you will be perceived as an honest, humble and trustworthy person in their eyes. Finally, being transparent about your shortcomings will most likely prevent the situation from worsening.
Be an Example to Others
Why not set an example to others around you of someone who is honest about their weaknesses and who is will to assume responsibility for them. People need good and encouraging examples to look up to. If everyone around you is in the vicious and unhealthy blame game cycle, you do not have to be as well. You can stand out as someone who chooses not to be dragged down that muddy path, but who, instead, has made the decision, to be honest, above-board, holding to higher standards of conduct. When people around you see that you prefer to deal fairly with everyone and are willing to hold yourself accountable, you might be surprised by the ripple effect that this choice can have.
Encourage Mistakes that People Can Learn From
Typically, at least in the past, though less so now, mistakes were discouraged and even punished. Is it no wonder that we are so afraid of making mistakes and making people upset with us? We learned this lesson at school and it carried on into the work environment. But we know that everyone makes mistakes. We know that no one is perfect. What if we chose to see mistakes and “misdemeanors” as learning opportunities instead? Is it no wonder that we want to protect ourselves when we have been taught all our lives that mistakes are to be avoided and, above all, we must not be seen as the guilty one? An environment where people are not afraid of reprisals for their shortcomings might also lessen the need to project blame onto others.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca