Blaming others is another form of denial but mostly it is also a form of survival.
I think you have a pretty good idea that life can be pretty tough. You’ve no doubt experienced setbacks, challenges, losses along the way and know that likely more will come your way too. The truth is there’s really nothing that you can do about any of that. That’s not to say that you’re totally helpless. You’re not and you never are.
Yet how you react to your setbacks, how you overcome your difficulties, how you navigate your own challenges can really define you. Have you found yourself thinking, or saying, out loud that where you are in your life, or what has happened to you, is all because of something that someone else did?
When I was navigating through multiple bereavements I was constantly on the lookout for someone to blame. The doctor who missed my fiancé’s cancer, the consultant who told us my dad had months to live when he only had weeks and the nurse who told me to go home and get rest the night my mum died. Each became my emotional target. If only they had done things differently, I wouldn’t be hurting. It was their fault I felt how I felt.
Why did I do that? Why was I so desperate to apportion the responsibility of my pain onto someone else? Perhaps it was easier for me to believe that someone else caused my pain, that they are responsible for everything that happens to me even into my future. When you are in pain, as I was, you don’t think rationally and it doesn’t have to make sense.
There are many layers to the blame game, but essentially, it is you deflecting from your own actions and finding temporary relief in holding someone else to account for how you feel. It gives you space to breathe as you come to terms with your new reality.
Looked at from a wider perspective, this is something that we are all guilty of. It’s natural that when you are hurting initially, you want to be able to hold someone else responsible, but I invite you to observe just how often you overstate the role that others play in your personal challenges.
Think of the times as a child when you so easily blamed a sibling or the dog for your missing homework. Can you own up to a time, as an adult, where you may have blamed a manager for making you unhappy in a job you were already miserable in? It happens with your families, your friendships and your close relationships. In fact, those closest to you seem more likely to be blamed than anyone else purely because these relationships are the ones that mirror back your actions and behaviours best to you and you rarely like what you see.
Blame for the most part is deeply rooted in anger. This was true for me when I wanted to blame all the doctors who had cared for my fiancé and my parents. I was angry that those I loved died so it had to be someone else’s fault. It’s was my way of lashing out, it was my form of self-defence. I needed to share my pain as it felt too much for me to carry alone.
You blame other people because it means you don’t have to deal with what’s happening right in front of you. You find it much easier to hold other people responsible for how it is you are feeling, because it stops you from having to. Blaming others is another form of denial but mostly it is also a form of survival.
Misery loves company. I know it’s hard to hear this. I know because I remember when I needed to be told this too. You can slip into victimhood too easily, often without you even being aware of it. You convince yourself that if you play the victim you won’t have to deal with the reality of your circumstances. While that might sound a tad dramatic, the truth is that when you stop blaming other people and take responsibility for your own behaviour and choices, you’ll actually start to feel much stronger.
It’s such a powerful step to decide that you are ready to take full responsibility, for what happens in your life next. That’s when you declare that it is time for you to enter fully into the next phase of your life, changed and different but much more willing to assume responsibility for who it is and who you are becoming.
When you do take responsibility, when you recognise that sometimes nobody is to blame, your heart will feel like it is physically softening as you finally give yourself permission to start healing. Remember also that the moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is also the exact moment that you regain the power to change anything in your life and that’s going to feel incredible.
Think of it like this – blaming puts other people in charge of your happiness and taking responsibility allows you to create your own. I know which one I want, do you?
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Empowerment and Transformation Coach, Founder of The RESET for Change 3 Month 1:1 Private Coaching Programme and host of The TOUGH LOVE ENERGY™ Podcast. She’s known for her practical solutions to life’s challenges and her ability to tell you not what you want to hear but always what you need. For more niamhennis.com or find her on Instagram @1niamhennis.