But pointing the finger is also a great way to avoid our own discomfort around a situation. It takes us out of the uncomfortable present and into our minds – analysing and judging.
We all feel better after someone or something has been successfully blamed! Who doesn’t feel a sense of relief or closure when we get to say, “Well, Paul shouldn’t have told Mary” or “How was I to know to shut the gate, there should have been a sign!” or “The council should have cleared that away. Blaming instantly takes the pressure off – “Aha! That’s the reason. It’s THEIR fault!”
And sometimes the discomfort we’re trying to avoid is our own role in the situation. It could be that we’d been meaning to talk to our neighbour or write a letter to the council for weeks, or that we should have told our friend that a piece of information was private – and we just didn’t get around to it.
So what? Well, unresolved feelings (whether reasonable or not) can eat away at us under the surface. And blaming others without looking at our role not only means the situation could happen again but it also lacks compassion for the “blamee” – who may end up feeling even worse!
So, when we find ourselves ‘blaming’, a wonderful concept is to, “Pick up the Mirror, not the Magnifying Glass.”
Here are 5 Simple Steps to Help You Turn Blaming into Powerful Learning. Ask yourself:
- What am I feeling underneath the discomfort? Then acknowledge that feeling without judgement, let it be. “Oh, there it is!”
- How did I contribute to this situation? It may be a tiny contribution which had little or no impact on the outcome, or it may have avoided the situation altogether. Either way, be honest with yourself and get it out in the open air!
- Where am I being too hard on myself? Perhaps you’re blaming others because you secretly feel to blame and it feels awful? AND Where am I being too hard on the other person? Remember that blaming others not only leaves others feeling awful but it can damage our relationships too. Is this something that could have happened to anyone given the right circumstances?
- What is the difficult truth I have been avoiding? These are the things you can’t change but may leave you feeling uncomfortable (or worse).
- If I were to relive the situation and take FULL responsibility for my actions and feelings, what would I do differently? The only thing you have control over is your own thoughts and actions. What can you learn for next time?
The idea here is NOT to turn the blame on ourselves, it’s simply that the only thing we have control over is our own thoughts and actions. Once something has happened, the only thing we can change is how we feel about it going forwards. And by taking an honest look at our role in the situation it helps us learn and take responsibility so that next time, we can respond differently.
In Summary: Blaming rarely achieves anything useful. Ultimately we hurt OURSELVES by blaming and avoiding how we really feel. And whether we’re busy judging others or ourselves, when we blame we reduce our own capacity for forgiveness and compassion. It takes courage to look at how we feel instead of pointing the finger but you’ll feel kinder – and a whole lot lighter!
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Shakespeare
If you liked this article on blaming, you may also like:
and share with your friends and colleagues!