If you live with children, you also live with two other mysterious people — Somebody and Nobody. Somebody always did it and Nobody ever knows who. As children, we quietly learn to point fingers. Blaming is an accepted, even expected response.
I walked into a preschool classroom, all the toys where put neatly away except one red truck. The teacher was standing in the middle of the room saying, “Be brave. Who played with the red truck? It’s time to come put it away.” Apparently, they’d been waiting for the red truck player to step forward for some time. It makes me chuckle to picture the scene and yet there is so much truth on display. It requires courage to not blame.
Blaming comforts us, at least for a while. It gives us the illusion we are in control. (Keep in mind, illusions are false.) “You are ruining my life.” At least, I’m not ruining my life. “My boss makes my life miserable.” Thank goodness, I’m not responsible for the misery. “My relationship is so bad because he won’t . . .” The good news is I’m not the problem here. This feels like control and in the moment blame comforts. What it’s really doing is stripping us of our personal power leaving us helplessly stuck. If it’s someone or something else’s fault than we mistakenly believe we cannot do anything.
The real dilemma: if we decide to stop blaming, we are forced to start looking at ourselves. If I don’t blame other people or institutions or circumstances for ruining my life, than I have to get vulnerable and work on my own emotional health. If I don’t blame my employer for my unhappiness, than I have to face the fear of looking for a new job. If I don’t blame my partner for our relationship struggles, than I have to do the tedious, exhausting work of creating appropriate boundaries. It’s so hard to admit I’m the one — I played with the red truck!
Blaming is easy, comforting, a place to slide into with little resistance. The preschool teacher provided a priceless lesson: Stop blaming and BE BRAVE.
What would you have to start facing if you stopped blaming?