Thursday 18th May 2017

Blame V Contribution

By Jo Cowlin, Bolt From The You

Stop playing the blame game.

As a society we just love to blame anyone or anything else for our problems. We blame our partners. Our ex’s. Our parents. Our kids. Our past. Our current circumstances. Our education. Our lack of education. Our employers. Our friends. The government. Society. Even God!

We lay blame elsewhere because it lets us off the hook. It’s easy. It stops us facing up to our own contribution towards the difficult situations we find ourselves in. We take the path of least resistance and simply abdicate from responsibility. It’s much less complicated when it’s someone or something else’s fault.

But blame is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. If you’re stuck in blame, you expect the other person to feel the same pain you’re feeling. But they don’t. Moreover, when you blame others you give away your power to them. You place your happiness in their hands. So you stay stuck. You have no control and you can’t move forward.

“But hang on, what if I’m a victim of crime, or an abusive relationship? Is it all my fault?”

No. Not exactly. But even in extreme situations, we still have the power and the opportunity to decide how we respond and how we live our lives as a result. We must treat ourselves the way we want to be treated. The behaviour of others isn’t our responsibility but we have a contribution towards whether they remain tangled up in our lives or not. Letting go of the blame doesn’t make what they do ok, but it gives us the space to move on.

‘You can’t change what happens, you can only change how you respond to it.’Victor Frankl.

As we’ve discussed before, our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. I understand that taking responsibility for everything that happens in our lives can be overwhelming, but it’s only by doing so, that we can truly be the captain of our own ship.

Blame doesn’t just worm its way into our relationships. We spend way too much time finding excuses for why we’re not reaching our true potential. I could blame the fact that I have 3 kids, a husband, a dog and a full time business on why I’m not fit right now. There’s a list as long as my arm, which I could use to get myself off the hook. ‘I just don’t have time to train’. ‘I’m so tired, if I train I’ll exhaust myself’. ‘My feet are killing me after being in these heels all day. What I really need is a foot spa, a glass of wine and a Tom Hardy movie…’ This is of course, complete nonsense (I’d watch the Tom Hardy movie after the training). If I don’t have the time or energy to train, then I need to take responsibility for my contribution towards the way I manage my diary. It’s all about prioritising and making the right choices for you.

When we’re in blame, we’re actually living in the past. We replay a set of stories around previous experiences, to justify our behaviour. Interestingly, when I’m with clients they talk a lot about Root Cause Analysis – tracing a problem back to its origin, so that they can get to the bottom of what happened, why it happened and learn from it. It sounds good in theory but using Root Cause Analysis keeps them locked in blame. They aren’t really looking to create opportunities to learn, they just want to create a scapegoat and let themselves off the hook. What we ultimately uncover here, is that there’s a deep culture of blame through the company.

On the flip side, the airline industry is brilliant at truly having a ‘no blame’ culture. Using Black Box technology, they learn from failure, adapting not just machinery, but human processes and procedures, so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated. Check out our book review on Black Box Thinking by Mathew Syed. The book has some really great examples of how, when we take away the blame, we can interrogate the error, not the person. And as a result, view failure differently.

If real change is to occur and progress is to be made on an individual, team or organisational level, the blame has to stop. Instead, look within. If we accept where we are and then look at what lessons can be learned, we can grow, develop and move forward.

So stop playing the blame game. Here’s how.

  1. Be open to the lesson – Stay vigilant when you get into blame. What is it that you’re avoiding? What can you really learn and how can you grow from it? Our external world is a mirror of our internal world and there will always be a lesson to learn to make a positive impact. Make yourself open to it.
  2. Acknowledge your contribution – If you don’t understand you have a part to play, you will stay stuck, miserable, powerless and victimised. However, acknowledging your contribution is very different from blaming yourself for the situation you find yourself in.
  3. Let go – Remember that blame keeps you in the past. You can kid yourself with Root Cause Analysis, but what is really important, is to accept where you are now and then consciously decide how to move forward.

“The day you stop blaming others is the day you begin to discover who you truly are.” Anon.

 It’s almost Friday, which means it’s almost time for our 9.15am Facebook live Set your reminders and then set your goals! See you there.

About the author 

Jo Cowlin, Bolt From The You

Director of Bolt From The You

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