Tuesday, April 19, 2011

To Blame or Not to Blame...

"If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life."
— Leo Tolstoy

I read this quote first thing in the morning and wanted to share it with you. There are two sides to this quote that I think are worth looking in to.

First, in regards to most blame, it is much like complaining and when we lend ourselves to that behavior, we find ourselves participating in negative talk and thought patterns that can lead us away from being the kind of women (and men) we want to be. In many ways, when we blame others, we give ourselves the option for inaction, because we declare that the circumstances are beyond our control and thus we have little or no impact on how things will turn out. This is a good time to look at issues in your relationships, job, living situation and determine whether blaming your partner, boss or whomever is keeping you from taking action and whether you could improve the situation for both yourself and others. If you want more romance, rather than blaming your partner, make plans that will give both of you a loving and memorable evening. If your home isn't as clean as you would like it, rather than thinking you need a bigger house, a maid or a tidier roommate, perhaps it's time to pare down your belongings so you have less to clean and more room to keep things. Opt out of blame and into solutions.

Conversely, many of us opt to be "kind" to others by taking all of the blame upon ourselves. This is no better. There is scientific backing that suggests that a bit of outward blame is good for our well-being in that it can help us see that bad circumstances are temporary and circumstantial, letting the space for improvement still exist. If you get laid off, for example, by feeling like you are a bad worker and that if this company didn't want you, no one will, you are telling yourself that these circumstances are permanent and will be true no matter where you work. This way of thinking is very hard to overcome if you don't let some, if not all, of the blame shift. Instead, you should consider that the opposite is just as true. Play the blame game: the company that laid you off is a bad fit, is perhaps suffering, and their decision will be another company's blessing when they hire you. Framing it this way makes the circumstances temporary and only true of the previous company, not all companies.

Think about what we say to children when they face hardships from classmates: "She just does that because she likes you," (turning bad into good) or "He just says that because he's jealous," (turning the negative description on to the bully.) And we say "You're going to be okay," when they scrape their knee. We let them know that things will get better.

Today, look at something in your life that is troubling you and ask yourself: Am I taking all the blame for this and making it impossible to grow and improve? Could it be true that I'm not wholly responsible for these circumstances and can move beyond them? Or, am I placing all the blame on others and negating my chance to personally improve the situation? When things are down, or you feel like the world is against you, re-frame the situation in a less self-deprecating manner to see if the opposite could be true, and thus reveal a place to grow from.