Beyond the Blame Game
- “If he would stop working so much, I wouldn’t feel so depressed.”
- “If I got an occasional compliment I’d be much happier person.”
- “I’m not going to put more into this relationship than she does.”
- And on and on.
Most of us are chronic blamers. Most of our clients are stuck in the blame game.
Good spiritual direction helps clients recognize and counter the depleting blame game.
But first, let’s give blame its due. As Emily Maroutian points out, blame is an important developmental skill for children. It’s one of the early signs of an expanding sense of self: “I can transfer what’s wrong to someone else.” That feels good. The capacity to blame others reflects growth in a child’s sense of control and power.
However, the gift of blame for the child becomes a curse for the adult. Whereas blaming reflects agency for the child, it negates agency for the adult.
Blame assumes that we are controlled by the external circumstances of our lives.
Blames gives us the illusion of being off the hook.
Blame turns the other into our persecutor, and turns us into victims. And we all do it habitually.
What is the opposite of blame? Responsibility. Blame is passive, whereas responsibility is active. Blame disempowers, whereas responsibility empowers.
It’s important not to blame ourselves or our clients for falling into blaming. We all do it. Instead, the work is to shine the light of compassion on blame.
Once we recognize that we are playing the blame game, we can playfully look at what it might look like to bring our response-ability to the situation. We can apply our creative, higher mind to the circumstance.
Taking responsibility for our lives is gradual work for us, and its transformative. It frees us by giving us agency and choice.
Help a client move from blame to responsibility and you’ll be helping them shift their thinking and their life dramatically.
Albert Ellis says it well:
The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.