When we blame others for situations and circumstance in our lives, we give up! Rather, we give up the right to make a change. When the right to change is gone, there is no more hope of something different.
Not long ago I got really frustrated with a perceived problem. This is really a very 1st world issue. We live in a lovely suburb neighborhood with curbed streets and sidewalks and yards. In our part of town the houses are on pretty small lots and very close together. Our neighborhood is also blessed with lots of growing families with teenage kids who are learning to drive and getting cars of their own.
Now to my frustration. There used to be a town ordinance prohibiting overnight parking on the street. Everyone had to move their cars onto their driveways overnight. Fast forward to today – no more ordinance. Now we have multiple cars on the narrow street that sit there daily. Not only is this inconvenient but unsafe for young kids chasing balls and riding bikes.
The blame game begins in my head –
- It’s the city’s fault – They should reinstate the “no overnight street parking” ordinance and make people move their cars off the street overnight.
- It’s these families fault. Why does every kid need a car when they turn 16?
- Or, why can’t people clean out their garages and park their cars there. Isn’t that what they’re built for?
I was bound and determined to have my voice heard and MY PREFERENCES UNDERSTOOD! Surely they would all make adjustments if they knew how nice it used to be to just drive down the street without doing the weave and bob like they had too many at the brewery. I’m sure they all want our neighborhood kids to be safe and the street to look less like a car lot.
I was blaming them for their actions and failure to understand what I understand and prefer! Surely, if I talked with them they would understand the error of their ways. By blaming my neighbors and not taking any positive action, I gave away my rights and power to make change!
The moment I blame someone else for NOT:
- Living up to my standards (my values)
- Doing what I think they should (my preferences)
- Seeing things the same way I do (my world view)
I give up my ability to be a change agent and turn myself into the victim.
And I give up the opportunity for things to be different.
Brene’ Brown says that blame is the discharge of pain and discomfort (watch her amazing animated short here). Now, we all need to deal with pain and uncomfortable things. But her research goes on to say that blaming has an inverse relationship with accountability! It is corrosive in relationships. And when we blame, we miss opportunities for empathy.
Instead of Blaming How about:
- Having a conversation with the neighbors about the car situation.
- Celebrating the fact that we have growing teens in our neighborhood who are functioning, independent individuals needing to “drive” to school and work.
- Changing my perspective on the circumstances from “poor me (i.e. victim) to negotiator, change agent, good neighbor and community advocate.
Instead of blaming others, I can choose to understand that most differences are just preferences. They are not right or wrong, moral issues. They are merely my personal preference based on my world view.
My world view includes how I see things according to:
- How and where I grew up (1 or 2 parents, siblings, income, safety, # of moves, etc.)
- Education including school, places I’ve lived or visited or read about, jobs I’ve had
- Experiences including relationships and health
- Opinions of people I respect often influence the way I “see” things.