How often do you blame others?

Today is April 9 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you blame others?” Blame is a powerful tool that people use. Didn’t get that promotion at work? Blame your coworker. Didn’t close that sale? Blame the client. Didn’t land that gig you wanted? Blame anyone but yourself.

Blaming others, or yourself, provides absolutely no support during your travels of navigating the chaos. Today’s reflection requires an honest discussion with yourself. The correlation between self-awareness and successful navigation of the chaos becomes clearer when we stop and challenge ourselves to truly understand how we treat others. If blame falls within your reflection, perhaps it is time to think differently and recognize the barriers associated with such an approach.

According to Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, author of The Search for Fulfillment, there are many reasons why people blame others. Here are four. First, blame is an excellent defense mechanism. Whether you call it projection, denial, or displacement, blame helps you preserve your sense of self-esteem by avoiding awareness of your own flaws or failings. It is far easier to point out the flaws of another. If you engage in such behavior are you proud of that?

Second, blame is a tool we use when we’re in attack mode. Falling into the category of a destructive conflict resolution method, blame is a way to try to hurt our partners. Hurting others as you navigate the chaos will serve no useful purpose.

Third, the hard truth is that we are terrible at figuring out the causes of other people's behavior. Truth be told, we are even bad at identifying the reasons behind our own behavior most of the time. The attributions we make towards the success of others, whether to luck or ability, can be distorted by our tendency to make illogical judgments. And we're just as bad at making judgments involving the blameworthiness of actions in terms of intent vs. outcome.

Finally, it is far easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility. There’s less effort involved in recognizing your contributions to a bad situation than in accepting the fact that you're at fault and changing so you don't do it again. As noted in other Navigate the Chaos posts, you are 100% responsible for your life, your reactions to life, and how you treat others. Get over yourself.

Hong Kong and American martial artist Bruce Lee noted “The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, but I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see I will never find the light unless, like a candle, I am my own fuel.” Self-reflection allows us opportunities to identify our own ailments and recognize that the medicine for our suffering has always been within our grasps.

Author Shannon L. Alder echoed Lee’s comment on self-awareness and wrote:

“The more you talk about it, rehash it, rethink it, cross analyze it, debate it, respond to it, get paranoid about it, compete with it, complain about it, immortalize it, cry over it, kick it, defame it, stalk it, gossip about it, pray over it, put it down or dissect its motives it continues to rot in your brain. It is dead. It is over. It is gone. It is done. It is time to bury it because it is smelling up your life and no one wants to be near your rotted corpse of memories and decaying attitude. Be the funeral director of your life and bury that thing!”

How often do you blame others for your lack of success? How often do you fail to realize that you are your own fuel?

How often are you the funeral director of your life and bury ‘the rotted corpse of memories and decaying attitude?