Who can I blame?

When faced with disappointment, we often feel the impulse to find someone else to blame.

It’s understandable, and a very human response. But it’s not a useful habit to cultivate.

Blaming can be a form of avoidance. By externalising our feelings onto someone else, we can minimise our own culpability or responsibility. By ‘defending’ ourselves we can avoid the hard work of acceptance and adaptation.

We seem to be living in a golden age of blaming. Public discourse is dominated by scapegoating and ‘othering’. Everything to do with Covid is everyone else’s fault. The dynamics within our teams and organisations are spoiled by others who play the game differently.

Of course there’s no shortage of injustice in the world. No shortage of manipulation and abuse. No shortage of coercion and misappropriation of power. There’s important work to be done, always, to face up to malfeasance and bring truth to falsehood.

But doing that important work doesn’t require us to continually indulge our desire to blame. In fact, continual blaming drains us of our agency to act.

Better for us to mindfully reflect on where we are, what is required of us and how we can more skilfully honour our own values through the work that’s most important to us.

Next time you notice that impulse to blame, try to tap into your courage and ask yourself the antidote question, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?”

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

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