Stop the blame game

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Take credit and responsibility for yourself

It’s very easy to blame someone else for your unhappiness, depression, mishaps and anger. Alas, research has shown that many people take this gutless route. Blame is a neat little device that you can use whenever you don’t want to take responsibility for something in your life.

“If she didn’t say that, my temper wouldn’t have exploded.” “If he didn’t cut me off I wouldn’t have shouted and flipped him off.” “My parents caused my problems with anger.”

These are a few examples of typical comments by individuals who are forever blaming others for their actions and reactions. They fail to recognise that their tendency to blame others only strengthens their perceived powerlessness. It’s laughable to suggest that others are responsible for our feelings, their intensity and how we manage them.

Origins of blaming others

Psychologist Bernard Golden said the tendency to blame others could be traced to our early development. “Some of us may have learned this strategy by observing parents who modelled it. Others may have been intensely shamed or punished when admitting responsibility for something that went wrong or for making mistakes. Or perhaps we’ve never developed the capacity for self-soothing to deal with our feelings or behaviour.”

According to estimates, almost 75% of Westerners are external in personality orientation – ie assigning responsibility for their emotional state to someone or something external. Thus, if you’re asked why you didn’t feel well and you responded with answers such as, “My wife/husband expects too much of me,” “My children made me angry,” or “Things simply aren’t going well,” you would be external.

Conversely, if you explained your state of happiness as, “My wife/husband is being particularly loving towards me,” or “My luck has changed,” the bad news is, you’re still external.

The power of being internal

People who are internal in personality orientation take full responsibility for how they feel. When asked the same questions, they’ll typically reply, “I’m not strong enough right now to pull out of this depression.” And when internal individuals are buoyant, they’ll say, “I made things work for me.”

There are people with weight problems who blame their mothers for forcing food on them, or they blame their metabolism. Later in life they’ll blame their husband/wife for neglecting them. This is a classic case of external thinking. The first decision should be to change one’s eating habits through sheer self-discipline. You’re in charge of your eating habits.

A mapped-out life

Your life definitely isn’t mapped out in advance. No sirree, you can never find self-fulfillment if you persist in permitting yourself to be controlled by external forces. Move your control locus from the external to the internal to be effective. And make yourself responsible for everything that you experience emotionally.

Blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, it simply won’t change your unhappiness – guaranteed!

A darker side is that people with strong narcissistic tendencies and other negative personality traits also tend to blame others for their own bad behaviour.

Become external in locus

The long and short of it is to take control of and responsibility for your life. It can’t be said better than George Bernard Shaw’s take on the blame game “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I do not believe in circumstances. The people who progress in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, they make them.”