We all know it, and we've all played it before. The Blame Game. At some point in our lives (and for many, it's ongoing), we've laid the blame for all the apparently screwed up, frustrating, and utterly confidence-crushing things that are happening to us on someone else. Or multiple someone else's. Or the universe. It's a classic strategy -- and an acute lack of awareness -- to blame external sources; we use it to seek sympathy and reassurance from others by creating a victim mentality, projecting fault on everything around us, and lamenting how the world is out to get us. And it's a really sucky thing to do.
I'm definitely guilty of playing the blame game, and I'll illustrate with a common example. I, like so many others, have blamed my parents for the ongoing 'hangups' and 'issues' I have experienced in my life. It was easy and incredibly convenient, because I was able to blame the recurrence of these maladies in my life on something I had no control over: my upbringing. I was screwed up from the start, so how could I be held responsible or accountable for the crappy things happening in my life, right? Wrong. A million times wrong.
As any parent (or human being, for that matter) will admit, they are not perfect. Mistakes are made, and they manifest in ways later in life that we cannot predict. Certainly, if we're talking about abuse or inhumane cruelty, then blame can and should be levied at those who inflicted it. However, that was never the case for myself, or the countless others who take to blaming their parents for the way they are, and the things that happen to them. The problem with these cases is often a lack of insight and awareness around the blame itself.
I've spoken before about how I've desperately sought approval in my life. I was always encouraged and pushed to do better in my youth, but felt a lack of recognition for what I did do well. It served to reinforce a limiting belief that I could never be enough, and it developed into a real problem for me that created a lot of unhappiness in my work and personal life. The real kicker about it, though, was that my parents didn't actually create that belief. I did. And I was the only one who could change it.
It made me feel better to blame my parents rather than take a hard look inwards, and realize that I was the one failing myself. I was the one to blame for this belief. I had booked a first class ticket to Victim Town, and was living it up there big time. When I finally realized that I decide what I believe, I took a look at that massive swath of blame, and found it had been entirely misplaced. Could I have used a few more pats on the back, and 'job well done's'? Sure. Few people will turn down positive acknowledgement. Had I also constructed a belief based on interpretation and assumption of what my parents' intentions and thoughts were? Absolutely. I was the only one keeping that belief alive, grasping at any thread (real or not) of negativity to reinforce it. Ultimately, I realized that I was projecting that self-limiting belief on my parents, and heaping a whole bunch of blame on top of that to boot. When I chose to change that belief, taking agency and ownership of that misplaced blame, it fell away accordingly.
Too often, we outwardly project blame on others that we should be responsible for internally. It's much easier to simply lay fault at the feet of others or lament how we never get a break rather than take a hard look at ourselves, pull up our pants, and make the needed changes in our lives to be and do better. Feel like the world isn't giving you any breaks? Ask yourself, "What am I doing to create opportunities for myself?" before blaming the universe for being out to get you. Blaming a lack of customers for your business going under? What actions are you taking to stand out and deliver the kind of contribution to peoples' lives that will drive them in your door?
I'm not suggesting that all blame resides internally, but we seem to have a real aversion to holding ourselves to task, and admitting that our lack of desire/dedication/focus/action are the real culprit, instead blaming outwardly. The next time you find yourself in a blaming situation, take a moment to self-assess, and determine if that blame should reside 100% on someone or something else, or if there's some part that you are responsible for too. You'll find that you blame much more intelligently that way.
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