I talk about blame a lot because it is such a common defense mechanism, hard wired from birth it seems to protect our fragile sense of being good enough, feeling “safe”. We do it often without even realizing that we do it, it can be really subtle, where we deflect responsibility on some level for the things that are showing up in our life… and other times it is really obvious when we do it and it seems equally obvious that it is completely appropriate.
The problem is that it is all wrong and it always undermines greatness.
In a nutshell, blame shuts down openness and curiosity and ownership which cuts us off from growth and healing. Nothing happens in a vacuum and there is always something to learn from every unpleasant occurrence. When we rest in a place of blame, we are missing that opportunity for growth.
Blame around the past robs you of the learning opportunity EVERY past pain point offers us.
Blame around the present robs you of the power to make things better yourself. It is saying “I can’t”.
Make your life better by BEING better and refusing to blame anyone or anything for things that aren’t “perfect” in your life. That is taking your power back.
But Pam, are you saying I should put my head in the sand and not hold people accountable for the messed up things that they did or are doing?
Nope, not at all. Blaming and holding someone accountable are two totally different things. We can hold people accountable for repairing their piece of an occurrence, which can either be facing the natural consequence of what went wrong, which often involved something that isn’t repairable. A natural consequence might be jail, for example. Or, holding someone accountable may be requiring a repairing of trust or if they aren’t able to do it, then you do no trust them any more. This is difference from “blame” — this is a natural, healthy flow from whatever went wrong that also involves learning and growth on our part, as well as holding someone accountable. You can avoid blame and maintain very healthy boundaries around holding people accountable for their behavior.
Another way to look at blame is that it is damning the person, which is to possibly say that we no longer feel like they are worthy of compassion around the situation, as opposed to damning the behavior. Blame involves saying YOU did this destructive thing with destructive consequences and you should be ashamed. As opposed to you behaved in a destructive way and there should be healthy guilt around that to get you to learn from your mistake and make a change. You are a mistake vs. you made a mistake.
Instead of “blaming” someone, recognize that their behavior didn’t happen in a bubble. You can’t possible see all of the collateral factors that went into the offense. It isn’t about right or wrong, but rather, where do we go from here? Having boundaries around behavior while validating feelings is the advanced skill we are trying to cultivate. We stay open to compassion and forgiveness, respecting each other’s humanity, while clearly enforcing the boundaries around what we will allow in our life and what we will not. This is how we empower ourselves, not allowing others to control our lives.
But Pam, are you really saying that nothing else in my life has power over me to make my life painful? That is ridiculous! If some idiot runs a red light and t-bones me, totalling my car and breaking my leg, IT IS THEIR FAULT! I couldn’t do anything to avoid it! And I am right to blame them!
Again, none of this is about right or wrong. It is understandable to blame them, but it isn’t of service in any way. It addition to avoiding any ownership around the situation (aka giving our power away), blame also means we remove compassion around the situation — we say, it is entirely your fault and we are damning you for it. It may be the case that it is their fault in comparison to it being your fault, but from a deeper perspective it is also the fault of the other factors involved, which we cannot ever really know. Some of this may sound like semantics, and after all, these are only words and words inherently are limited in how they can truly explain anything… but the way I use the word blame, it is “only” that person’s fault… and in the case of most car accidents, while one person is responsible and found at fault, it isn’t usually that simple. Maybe someone fell asleep at the wheel and yes it is their fault for driving while tired, but how can we really blame anyone without knowing the full extent of the circumstances?
By blaming someone else entirely and saying there was and is nothing you can do to make the situation better, you are giving your power away. Instead, in the present moment, acknowledge how scary and painful what happened was, and let the insurance companies deal with who is at fault. Send love and forgiveness to the person involved in the accident and believe in your ability to quickly heal and make the best of the situation. Even when it seems impossible to find, I believe every event in our life carries with it an opportunity for growth. Shift from a “blame mindset” to a “what is the opportunity for growth” mindset and you are taking your power back to make your life as awesome as possible, in the face of your challenges.