When how we see the problem is the problem, finding a different way to look at something we’ve struggled and even tormented ourselves with for so long can be unburdening. Take blame, for instance. Whether it’s that we’re like high-absorbency blame kitchen roll soaking up the ‘responsibility’ for anything and everything around us or spending our lives playing responsibility dodgeball, blame and what we do with it has a knock-on effect with far-reaching consequences.

To blame is to feel or state that someone or something is responsible for a bad situation or outcome.

The problem is feelings aren’t facts. We can feel that we’re not capable of doing something, but that doesn’t mean that we’re actually incapable. It’s the same with feeling we’re to blame [for something]. What needs to follow is some level of exploration. And while sometimes this cannot happen in the immediate aftermath of something because we’re not in the right head space, we have a duty of care to ourselves. We must question anything that’s going to ultimately impact our ability to treat and regard ourselves with love, care, trust, and respect. That and we also have to manage our bullshit (BS) levels.

Equally, just because we say something doesn’t make it so. Although granted, the more we say we’re to blame for something, the more we affirm this in our lives because our subsequent actions and thinking stem from this. That said, stating that we (or someone else) are to blame for something doesn’t make it a fact.

When we assign blame to ourselves and/or others and we’re not truthful about our part (or theirs), or we’re just not knowledgeable of the facts of the situation. We are taking and giving blame but what we don’t have is responsibility. In treating thoughts and what may be another person’s perception of things as ‘facts’, we hamper that knowledge. We build a faulty case against us.

Blame is a decision, and decision-making involves going through important stages that many of us miss. Questioning, forming a conclusion and reaching a resolution.

When we’re burdened with blame (or won’t take responsibility for anything), we’ve skipped one or more of the decision stages.

When we default to blame, we go straight to forming a conclusion and then make dodgy resolutions to follow. We decide that it’s all our fault (or none of it) without genuinely questioning and examining all the ‘facts’. And then we stubbornly maintain our blame position. It’s like sentencing someone without a trial and then refusing to view evidence and reopen the case.

If you’ve ever had one of those arguments where it’s ‘You’re to blame… No you are… It’s your fault… No, it’s yours… You made me… No you made me…’, you know it leads nowhere good. The real lessons, the real growth, come when you’ve both calmed down and are both willing to look more honestly at the situation and the chain of events that led to the conflict.

Whether on your own or with somebody, you don’t move forward unless you’re willing to look more honestly at the situation.

Where there’s high blame, there’s high dishonesty. You can be more honest, even if the other party wants to continue getting high on the BS crack pipe.

To be responsible for something or someone means you’re accepting full control. Of course, you only have control over yourself and something where you’re the sole person involved or the primary driver.

When you accept responsibility (blame) for something, you’re also accepting that you are the cause.

You’re saying you directly produce that effect in a person or situation due to __________.

There are situations in life where you are responsible for something or someone where you’re not in full control (so unpredictable things will happen) but you are still responsible due to it being your duty or legal requirement. Examples include being a parent, jobs, and having positions of authority where you may be responsible for groups, communities, or populations.

When we make ourselves solely responsible for the success or ‘failure’ of a relationship, or we take the blame for how someone treated us or what they did, it’s as if to say we’ve deemed them unfit for responsibility and incapacitated. We’re saying and even agreeing with them that they have no part and that if they were going to be or do anything, it ultimately rested on whether we could provoke it with our worth or actions. This mentality can start off in childhood where we deem any inadequate parenting on what we assume must be our own inadequacies or a ‘one false move‘ on our part, and then we just roll with it.

This willingness to take the blame is why we can feel overwhelmed with shame. We keep rubbing our face in it and as a result we feel embarrassed or even humiliated over theses ‘wrongdoings’ that might not be what we believe them to be. Maybe we’re taking the blame for the wrong things and avoiding the responsibility on the stuff that matters. Perhaps we’re holding ourselves to blame for stuff that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with us. Sometimes it seems easier to say, ‘It’s my fault because I’m not good enough’ than to say, ‘You know what? I need to own my part, so it’s time for me to examine why I would want to be in a relationship where I felt devalued and without a voice?’

On the flip side, it can also seem easier to put it all on somebody else. If we keep up this stance, we can just keep distancing ourselves from our own actions and responsibilities.

Any time reality bites a bit too close, we can just create some drama or home in on our usual scapegoat. It’s why I caution people on pursuing validation or whatever from a person who is only too happy for them to take all the blame. Each time you give this person the time of day and cartwheel around them, you’re saying, ‘I agree, it’s all my fault’. And then they can trot off into the world with their false sense of security.

You always know you’re taking responsibility when you own the stuff you can control and leave it to others to own theirs (even if they don’t necessarily do it).

  • Were you acting alone?
  • Is whatever you’re taking the blame for the sole cause of the issue?
  • Are you denying the existence of other evidence that would show that you weren’t acting alone or solely responsible?
  • Aside from this ‘one thing’ or however many things, are you saying that it was perfect or the outcome would have been different? On what basis? How do you know this?
  • How’s this taking the credit for other people’s behaviour working out for you? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not so good.

Blame is a decision, so it’s critical to sanity check your basis for taking all of it. Ensure that you know the line between blame and responsibility. One side has your self-esteem, including self-compassion, empathy and respect for you and others. The other side has pain and distortion. Choose wisely.

Your thoughts?

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