Who do you typically blame when something goes wrong? Do you accept responsibility or finds someone else to blame it on? Unfortunately, many people opt for blaming others rather than accepting responsibility. Yes, sometimes it really is someone else’s fault and they need to be held accountable. But when we are the ones that are responsible, shifting the blame to others is rarely the right thing to do.
We sometimes don’t have an objective view of the situation.
I’m going to be blunt here. There are times when we are wrong, but we don’t see it. I remember someone ranting about their former employer after getting laid off. When I probed for more information, I found out that this person was actually a weak performer but had no clue. When asked to list accomplishment, everything cited were regular duties for that job. This person was also a complainer: “they probably didn’t like that I pointed out all the problems we had.” When asked about what solutions were provided, the response was: “that’s not my job to figure that stuff out.”
The problem with this approach is it can destroy your relationships along with your reputation. Talk to any couple in an argument and you’ll find that they always share one opinion: the other person is wrong.
Not accepting responsibility gives the other side the power.
Imagine that it’s a Friday afternoon after a tough week. All you want to do is plop yourself down on the couch and watch some Netflix. But wait – you’re supposed to go out with your friends to that new restaurant. You don’t want to get dressed up, spend a ton of money, or stay out past midnight. Try telling your friends that you can’t hang out because your significant other won’t let you. In most cases, you’ll get a lot of constructive feedback about “who wears the pants” in the relationship.
The same holds true in other situations. You didn’t get that promotion because your boss doesn’t know talent when he sees it. You didn’t get that job because you’re too old/young/not the right look/don’t have a family member at the firm/etc…. When you hear the words come out of someone else’s mouth, they sound just as lame as “sorry, my girlfriend won’t let me go out tonight.” Placing the blame on the other person gives them the power in the relationship.
Giving away control is bad for your self-esteem.
When you truly feel that it’s always someone else’s fault, it becomes difficult to improve your life. At one extreme, you may develop this sense of paranoia that the world is out to get you. Or, you may just become a negative person that’s angry at the world. Both of these will make you feel helpless. When you feel that others are holding you back, that there’s nothing you can do about it, you start to feel hopeless.
But if you take an objective look at your life, you may find things that you can’t fix. Maybe your dates don’t go well because you talk significantly more than you listen. So you practice becoming a better listener. Maybe you’re not getting that promotion because you’re just doing the bare minimum to keep your job. So take on an extra project and show them what you can do.
The next time something doesn’t go your way and you’re looking for someone else to blame, take a different approach. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there something I could have done differently to get the outcome I wanted?
- Is this an opportunity for me to improve?
- What can I do differently to prevent this from happening again?
Remember, it’s not about blame – you don’t want to blame yourself into depression. You want to accept responsibility because when you do; you have the power to change the situation.
James Feudo owns the Boston Web Design Agency JVF Solutions and loves blogging about personal development and communication in his spare time.