When things go wrong, blame is an easy way of taking the spotlight off ourselves and shining it on others. From the first excuse we used as a child, shifting blame often becomes an all-purpose gadget in our toolbox of defenses, so handy we often reach for it without even thinking. And so what happens is that we give up responsibility for our lives.
Why do people blame?
- Blame is a ready outlet for anger, hurt and disappointment. “Pointing the finger at others and blaming them for your distress is a way of letting yourself off the hook,” said Jane Greer, author of How Could You Do This to Me?
- Having someone to blame allows us to maintain our self-image. In our own eyes, we can remain that punctual, efficient person we would be except for the interferences and inefficiencies of other people.
- Blame is a reflex action. It’s the first thing you say when you’ve been caught and you need to preserve your dignity. Remember the time you tripped over a loose brick left on the sidewalk and immediately cried out, “What idiot left that here?”
- Blame is a convenient form of procrastination. To our own ears, the flimsiest of excuses can sound like a reasonable explanation when someone else is at fault. “I would build that bookshelf for you today if your son had returned the tools he borrowed.”
- Blame can act as a defense. Shifting responsibility to someone else can be comforting. If only your parents had encouraged you, you could have become a really great dancer; if only your boss didn’t demand so much, you’d have more time for those classes you want to take.
- Blaming others is less painful than really looking at our own decisions. If we regret choices we have made in our lives, pointing the finger at someone else means we don’t have to own up to our decisions, some of which might not have been the wisest.
- Blame obscures the true nature of problems. As long as someone or something else is responsible for our feelings, our failures, our lives, we don’t have to do anything. The problem is not ours, but theirs.
Or so we may think.
The real problem with blame is that it holds us in the past and keeps us from moving forward toward growth. “People who spend a lot of time blaming others for their problems are more likely to stay stuck in their ruts,” says Penelope Russianoff, Ph.D., of the New School for Social Research. Blaming others allows us to remain in the role of victim, powerless to change anything.
While we do not have control over what happens, we do have control over our own reactions and emotions.
Do you see yourself in the examples above? Blame often becomes a habit, but each day we have an opportunity to change our thinking from victim to victor. This is something I see daily with the clients I have the privilege of coaching. What changes would you like to create in your life? Contact me today for a complimentary consultation.