Many years ago, my college psychology professor suggested that we should accept the weaknesses and failings of others. There are people who are more like us than we like to admit. There are also wretched people who populate society, some of whom will be our leaders, clergy, and employers. Some of these difficult people will be members of our own families. Perhaps oneself could be counted among people who sometimes fail. The point he tried to make was that there are people who actively or inadvertently stymie our plans and efforts. the wise person accepts the universality of this social condition.
When we fail, one of the first temptations is to cast blame upon someone who disgusts us. If we pause and are honest with ourselves, we come to the conclusion that such blame is merely a transparent alibi. If we are in an inescapable position, then we can either blame someone else or take responsibility and work to change the situation.
It’s embarrassing to admit how many times I skirted responsibility by claiming someone or something else caused me to screw up. One of my earliest recollections of knowing this deceit happened in the fifth grade. I had procrastinated on completing a special history assignment. In the end, I put it off so long that I didn’t even begin doing it. When the teacher asked where my paper was, I told him that the dog ate it. Not only had I given a clichéd excuse, but our family didn’t even have a dog. The teacher knew that I understood my cover-up was stupid. I had done something wrong and tried to cover it up. The magnitude of the pair of errors was quite intense for a fifth grade pupil. I’ll never forget the scenario.
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”–President Theodore Roosevelt
Ultimately, we are responsible for our own lives. Fair play is mainly about not blaming other people or situations for anything that is wrong with us. Even if we grew up under dysfunctional conditions, it is up to us to make honest efforts to improve our personal situation, even if it means reaching out to professional experts and licensed counselors. There’s no sugar-coating it, to live a more fulfilling life, we cannot continue to blame others for our own failings. We work on ourselves and continue the best we are able.
“Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others.”–writer and lay theologian, C. S. Lewis
We’re all human, we all slip up sometimes. The mature person takes responsibility for his faulty decisions and actions. The wise person doesn’t blame even the most blameworthy person nor make excuses for himself. By blaming someone else, one fails to attain workable solutions to problems. Blaming others is a type of denial. To give in to the temptation to blame someone else is to surrender one’s own power. Taking responsibility is to claim one’s own power. In the end, life is more satisfying when we claim responsibility for our failures and successes.
People have relationship problems with family, friends, and adversaries. It’s easy to blame the other person as sort of a quick-fix. We might try to persuade the other person to see a situation our way. We can use emotional arguments, logical reasoning, or even a temper tantrum. None of these work. We can only strive towards mutual understanding. If the situation is serious, we can take a time-out to mull over our options. In extreme situations, the responsible thing to do, might be to leave. The other person may force the hand, but it is up to oneself to make the decision.
One day, early in my career, I realized I was getting nowhere by blaming the tyrannical boss (he was a real stinker). I could continue to blame my woes on him by staying stuck in the dysfunctional business atmosphere, or I could put my big-boy pants on and search elsewhere for a better working environment. Although there were temporary financial and living hardships, they were worth it. The day I took the boss’s power over my happiness back and set my own course, was a moment to be proud of.
The deal is, even if someone has wronged you or is indebted to you for something, they will rarely voluntarily grant you retribution. You can only pick up the pieces and use the experience as a life-lesson. To play the blame game is to fritter away one’s time. Regardless of the legitimacy of the fault of others and how much we blame her or him, the blame game keeps us mired in a sort of purgatory. While we might succeed in making someone feel guilty by using blame, we won’t get anywhere in the process of improving our lives nor canceling what makes us unhappy. A time-proven method of discovering a rich, fulfilling, integrated life, is to leave the blame game behind.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes basketball star and coach, John Wooden. “You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”