The Blame Game – Human Nature Or Just An Excuse?
For many people, the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. The road is long and often lonely. The stretches can seem to last forever, with no end in sight. It is a road to accountability, a road lined with mirrors all around, forcing us to look at ourselves in the eyes.
Now, the road well traveled is filled with people busy passing the blame to one another. Let’s face it. It’s much easier to find someone else to be the reason for our problems than it is for us carry around the burden of our decisions. God help us if others discover that we are the way we are because of choices we’ve made intentionally. If someone finds some some deficiency within us, in order to save face we can say, “It’s my parents’ fault. They did (insert excuse here) to me.” The response might be, “Wow. Yeah, I can see how that can happen. You’re right. It’s not your fault.”
Whew. *Wipes sweat off forehead.* We’re off the hook. No questions asked. Pity party in full swing.
The simple gesture of pointing fingers at someone else is a magician’s trick of smoke and screen. It redirects the attention from us towards an outside source. By passing the baton of consequences of our decisions to someone else, it frees us to continue to make choices without repercussion. An E-ticket to a guilt-free life!
Allow me to illustrate: My older son hits my youngest son. When I ask him why, his response is, “He made me!” To which I ask, “A 12-year-old made a 16-year-old raise his fist and take a swing at him?” “Yeah!” My oldest smiles, thinking that pretty much justifies his action.
But the downside to blaming others is that by doing so, we relinquish our control. We are powerless.
And personally, I hate to feel powerless. Been there, done that.
I wrote Prisoner of My Past many years ago as a way to process feelings that were simmering under layers of my callused memories of being abused. At the time that it all hit the fan, I was forced to take the blame for what happened only because my father refused to. He washed his hands of the mess and walked away, but not before dropping the bag at my feet. I may have picked it up and carried it around for awhile, blaming him for my mental state, but eventually I realized something.
Blaming can be destructive…or it can be constructive.
The process of writing that little essay forced me to open up the bag and dig deep – really deep. Now I could have whined about all the problems my father caused me because of his selfishness. I could have played the blame game in its full glory, giving him the power. But if I did, I would have missed seeing the growth that took place within me, and the strength it took for me to move on. My maturity and fierce independence would have gone unnoticed had I curled up in a corner somewhere, mourning the loss of the relationship I had with my parents.
By turning inward, by taking the blame for the choices I made in response to his actions, it gave me back the power I had given him for much too long.
I have a tattoo in a band around my arm, sporting the names of my boys and my ex-husband. During the last nine months I’ve seen a few raised brows when they look at the ex’s name, as if I should have tattooed over it by now or turned it into a cute little mermaid or something. (Gasp! You’re still wearing his name?)
But to me, it symbolizes the accumulation of choices I made because of him and in spite of him. He acted, I reacted, and each time that happened, it shaped me just a little bit differently. I am who I am based on those choices. I like me. I like who I have become. And if you like me, you’ll like my tattoo.
Of course, not all choices I’ve made worked well for me, but by taking on the blame, I have the power to make yet another choice and another choice, until I get to where I want to be.
It took me a long time, but by dissecting the issues throughout my life and placing the pieces of the puzzle where they belong, I found that I was still intact and I was still me – just a new and improved version.
So what do you think? Do we blame others because we want to escape the consequences or is it possible to embrace those consequences? There’s no right or wrong answer. It all boils down to what resonates inside, but I’d still love to hear your thoughts.