The Insidiously Destructive Power of Blame

Ever blamed someone or something outside you for how things turned out for you?

Tell me: how did that go?

Blame is a terrible thing, and not only because it casts guilt onto someone who is likely innocent.

No, the real problem with blame is that it disempowers you.

The moment you blame someone else for something, you’ve given up part of your autonomy. You effectively remove power from yourself, and place it elsewhere, and I think you’ll agree that this does you no good.

But blame gets even worse: when you blame yourself.

Because you’re accusing your past self of doing something that, for that past self and at that particular moment, was the best thing to do. No matter how erroneous, that you back then either saw no other choice, or had no other option, or simply acted on a misinterpretation of facts.

In other words: back when you made that mistake or error, you did the best you could. Even if it was going against your own better judgment or your values: at that moment, it was all you could do.

In other words: your former self wasn’t wrong, but your current self is making them wrong. Bad self! Boo!

Clearly, this doesn’t help at all.

But wait: if blaming others isn’t useful, isn’t blaming the self the only option left?

Well, maybe your former self used to think that way, but your present self is reading this, learning that it’s not the only option, so that your future self will never have to pass blame (on self or others) again.

Not blaming others doesn’t mean you get to blame yourself. Not blaming others means that you get to take responsibility.

Responsibility to say ‘what did I learn from that?’ or ‘Why did that other person act that way, and what can I do to elicit a different reaction?’ or ‘Action X got me results I don’t like. Let’s resolve to not do Action X any more’.

When you blame nobody, not even yourself, you are suddenly free to deeply learn from your experiences, and to take full ownership of what you’ll do next.

Which I’m sure you know has nothing to do with what happened before. The stuff you’d blame for, that’s in the past. It’s behaviour you don’t need.

Much better to take responsibility of what will happen next.

Cheers,

​Martin


Also published on Medium.

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