The act of blaming is assigning the responsibility of a fault or wrong doing on something or someone.
Most of us develop this habit of blaming something or the other to cover up our mistakes.
This habit becomes second nature to us and also manifests as excuses.
Rarely do we realize that these character traits in us are the very foundation of failure to achieve anything significant in life.
Imbibing this defensive trait prevents our progress in life, both personally and professionally.
“A man may fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody”.
- J. Paul Getty
Let us examine as to why we play this “blame game” or resort to “giving excuses”?
- Blaming someone or something helps to deflect complete or at least a part of the responsibility for something gone wrong elsewhere and shields us from having to bear the full brunt of the reproach coming our way.
- Blaming circumstances and situations becomes a convenient tool to shirk taking up responsibilities.
- Playing the blame game or giving excuses helps to keep us in our comfort zones.
- The part of the self or ego state that impels us to blame (aggressive behavior) or offer excuses (passive behavior) arises from a deep felt need to believe that one can always do the right things and is beyond reproach ( ie. committing errors or mistakes). In this manner, one tries to hold on to and maintain one’s state of self- esteem and self-worth.
“We invest a major part of our energy in wanting to be right at all times rather than on our basic right to be happy”.
- Dr. Rajesh Bajaj
Investing our energy in shedding these traits of blame and excuse (the cloaks of weakness) ensures a journey towards growth and prosperity.
We need to adopt the following attitude and outlook to life in order to achieve this end
Develop the courage to accept responsibility for our actions.
Grace to accept victory and defeat with equipoise,
Adopting a flexible approach to life.
Let us understand through a short story, the importance of assuming responsibility for our actions, so as free ourselves from the tendency to blame others or offer excuses, both of which are traits of a weak character.
My son is disobedient
Mala, a harassed looking mother of a 15 year old son approaches a psychologist for help to improve her relationship with her son.
On being shown in to the psychologist’s office by the secretary, Mala blurts out, “Madame, my son, who just turned 15, has of late become very disobedient towards me. He answers back rudely and in general ignores me as much as possible. I am very disturbed and am beginning to develop strained relationship with my husband over this. Please help me understand this situation and guide me as to how I should deal with these circumstances successfully in order to regain a peaceful atmosphere in the house”.
The psychologist, who handles similar problems frequently, was quickly able to analyze the situation, and looking at the mother sympathetically, asked her, “Who else has complained about your son as being disobedient and rude?”
Mala was taken aback by this question and after some contemplation replied, “Coming to think of it, no one has actually complained about my son’s behavior. His teacher is happy with his academic progress in school and he gets along very well with my husband at home”.
“Well then”, asked the psychologist, “what is it that you are doing that is different from what your husband is doing in so far as your interaction with your son is concerned?”
Mala looked up and replied honestly, “Of late I have been nagging my son to spend more time studying for the approaching Board exams and perform better in school. I keep taunting him on his current performance in school and on wasting his precious time in watching TV or listening to music. On the contrary, my husband encourages my son to take periodic breaks from studies and relax the mind by listening to music or watching comedy serials or cartoons on TV”.
Mala was silent for a moment before continuing, “in fact I keep complaining about my son not spending enough time in studying to my husband and this has also led to a strain in our relationship. I blame my son for causing discord in our relationship and I also blame my husband for encouraging my son to waste his time watching TV and listening to music. Please guide me as to how I should go about changing their behavior so that there is peace in the house”.
“Mrs. Mala, it is very easy and convenient for most of us to blame someone else for the creation of a disturbing situation in life and make attempts to correct them”, replied the psychologist softly, “but it takes a lot of courage for an individual always blaming others to actually realize that it is their action that causes the other to react in the manner that they do. We conveniently do not take the onus for our actions that brought about the reaction from others in the first place”.
“In your case for instance, if you show confidence in your son’s ability to time his study hours and score well in the exam through an encouraging behavior rather than a critical one towards him, his response to this changed behavior towards you will automatically be congenial and this will also severe the strain in your relationship with your husband.”
“Therefore, when we drop this habit of blaming others and instead introspect to understand our contribution to the development of a distressing situation, we begin to adopt a flexible attitude to change the way we look at things. This changed attitude results in executing actions that are congenial to the situation and the end result is peace and harmony. In this manner, we reclaim our power to handle a situation tactfully rather than surrendering our right to be happy by playing the blame game and using up our energies to correct the action of others that only serves to turn the situation more complex and messy”, concluded the psychologist.
Mala thanked the psychologist profusely for helping her see things in a different perspective which also evoked feelings of joy and optimism.
The secretary was surprised to see a confident looking Mala, holding herself up with great poise, exiting the psychologist’s office.