TW Viewpoint | The Blame GameJuly 17, 2019 | Winston Gosse
Have you ever played the blame game? Is there ever a winner in this game that is growing ever more popular?
We live in a “blame culture” where many fail to assume responsibility for their own actions, instead choosing to participate in the toxic practice of blaming others.
It seems our society has the default position of pointing the finger and of course it takes less energy to blame others than to improve our own circumstances.
As Australian author Gillian Duce said “You do not blame your shadow for the shape of your body: Just the same: Do not blame others for the shape of your experience.”
Wife blames husband, husband blames wife, employers blame employees and employees blame employers ---children blame their parents --- a never ending cycle of blaming others.
People who tend to blame others oftentimes use the words “never” and “always” -- “you never help me”, “you never get home on time”, “you are always too busy.”
We also see the act of blaming others played out in the political world as well, where the party in power or its leader is facing continuous criticism and is expected to shoulder the blame for all the ills of the country.
Of course there are also individuals who blame themselves for everything and look upon themselves as being incompetent, or irresponsible even when they’ve had little to do with a negative situation and outcome. At times self-blame can be as a result of false modesty or simply a way of wanting and looking to be reassured from someone else.
Are there winners in the blame game?
Susan Krauss Whitbourne wrote in an article in Psychology today that: “Unlike other games, the more often you play the blame game, the more you lose. Learning to tell when you need to own up to your role in a bad situation will help you grow from your experiences, and ultimately help you achieve more fulfilling relationships.” (Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D)
John Burroughs, an American naturalist and writer said: “You can get discouraged many times, but you are not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else and stop trying.” (John Burroughs, 1837 – 1921)
And Dwight D. Eisenhower former President of the United States said: “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”
This is illustrated in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 a fire that burned for three days, killing hundreds of people. Soon after the fire was extinguished a search for a scapegoat started.
The Chicago Tribune wrote that the fire began when a cow that was being milked by a Catherine O’Leary kicked over a kerosene lamp. The reporter that created the story admitted a number years later that he simply made it up (Mrs. O’Leary was apparently sleeping when the fire started). So Mrs. O`Leary became the scapegoat – she was blamed for the Great Chicago Fire!
Another Psychology Today writer, Guy Winch, wrote the following: “No one enjoys being wrong. It’s an unpleasant emotional experience for all of us. The question is how do we respond when it turns out we were wrong: when there wasn’t enough milk left for coffee, when we hit traffic and missed the flight, or when we find out the man who sat in jail for five years based on our identification was innocent all along?”
He goes on to say “ADMITTING YOU’RE WRONG MEANS YOU’RE STRONG.” (Guy Winch Ph.D)
Researchers at Stanford and the University of Michigan, studying the annual reports of various public companies found that self-blame came with a bonus. The firms that attributed their problems to their actions instead to external factors performed much better. Accepting responsibility and admitting blame was actually empowering.
The blame game can be very addictive. But regardless of our proficiency in playing the game we will never win. As Guy Winch stated, “Stop playing it and regain control of your life. Some people blame others as a habit. Others do it occasionally. What about you?”