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Perhaps something went wrong; a mistake was made, or an accident happened, an argument, even.

Whatever the issue, a common way of explaining what happened is to lay the fault at someone else’s door.

After all, as humans it’s our default mode to look for a cause for what went wrong.

But many things that happen are the result of several factors, and are usually caused by a combination of our own actions as well as other peoples’.

As humans, it’s our default mode to look for a cause for what went wrong

Have a look at this simple (and common) example:

Someone arrives at a work or at an appointment 15 minutes late. It was probably partly due to the heavy traffic, the road works and that they hit every red light on the way there. But perhaps it was also due to them not checking how long it would take to get there, allowing enough time for travel and leaving home too late. 

And what about in other situations? Many people rant and rage about their boss, their spouse, their friends or family. 

That person was mean to me, or didn’t give me the correct instructions, or behaved in a particular way… 

This perspective turns them into victims of their own lives. When we give others responsibility over our actions, how we feel and how we behave is no longer our own choice. Instead, we paint ourselves as victims with others holding that power over us.

As well as this, blaming others can be a dangerous game. No matter how much we are loved, there are only a certain number of times most people will put up with taking the blame for something that wasn’t their fault.

blaming others

So why do we tend to blame others?

Blaming someone – or something – else for our mistakes stems partly from two habits: a tendency to judge others and desire for self-preservation. 

Blaming someone is easy; it explains what happened and takes the responsibility and accountability off our shoulders. This is far easier than having to deal with the fallout from being responsible for a problem.

Blaming is used as a self-defence mechanism to protect ourselves from feelings of guilt, stress or anxiety. This usually comes hand in hand with denial. This defence mechanism can even be on the level of the subconscious and we use it when we want to avoid a situation that is too challenging for us to handle. 

Sometimes we blame others when we feel out of control. We use it as a way of regaining that sense of control. For example, arguing with your partner and saying something hurtful in the heat of the argument. You may blame the other person and say it was because they were also saying hurtful things, but perhaps you felt powerless and out of control too.

Blaming others can give us an excuse to behave in a way that we may not otherwise behave. By blaming someone else, we justify our actions to ourselves for our hurtful actions. It means we can build a thought pattern that lets us act in a way that our moral compass would normally not allow. 

Blaming someone – or something – else for our mistakes stems partly from two habits: a tendency to judge others and desire for self-preservation. 

Did you recognise yourself in any of these reasons?

Well the good news is that recognising and accepting that you have a tendency to blame others is the first step in changing your behaviour.

It means that you are prepared to make some changes to become a better person, for yourself and those around you.

As well as weakening our relationships, being unable to take responsibility for our mistakes can be damaging to us in other ways too.

By giving away responsibility for our actions, we also give away our freedom. When we don’t take responsibility for the life we are living, we end up feeling like a victim of outside forces that are beyond our control and this leads to feelings of stress and anxiety. 

The way to get that freedom back is to become responsible. Admit when we are to blame rather than passing that off onto someone or something else. 

After all, life is all about making mistakes. It’s only through getting things wrong that we learn how to do them right.

If we never accept that we’ve made a mistake, how can we ever learn to do things better?

Once we can start to accept our part in a problem or situation, we will become more conscious of our actions and become able to see ourselves as creators of our lives, rather than the victims.

Some tips to help you stop playing the blame game

Mistakes happen
We all make mistakes. So when someone has forgotten to do something or not done it well enough, remember that no one is perfect and show some compassion.

What was your role?
Acknowledge your own role in a situation and learn from it. What did you do that you could have done better? Use this knowledge to help you make better decisions in the future.

Sometimes things do just go wrong
And it doesn’t always have to be someone’s fault. Perhaps it was just bad luck or coincidence.

Work on yourself
Develop your sense of self-worth to help you to become more responsible for yourself. In accepting your own flaws you will also be more likely to accept and understand them in other people. 

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