We willingly surrender freedom, delivering our futures to unseen forces. We blindly participate in our own misery. We grimace and roll our eyes, crudely accusing others, pointing our finger for any disappointments. Our expressions scream innocent victimhood while self-righteously condemning others of evilness. Many of us—all of us some of the time, some of us all of the time—thoughtlessly claim entitlement to an undisturbed life. When life opposes, we react, exploding inside, seeking cause for the horribleness that unfairly befell us. We all judge. We gather information, assess intentions, recall the past, and make a judgment, blaming others for our misery. Wisdom from learning protects us from repeated violations of disloyalty and injury. Judgments serve a purpose. But judgments flawed and infused with bias self-serve, by avoiding personal responsibility.
We don’t exist independently. Our story—where we are the main character—is commingling with the billions of other stories that simultaneously exist, playing out concurrent dramas. Others also have self-serving biases expressed in their judgments. On the stage of collective existence, conflict and cooperation play out.
Avoiding Responsibility by Blaming Others
Disappointments are an inherent part of life. Many pieces of experience combine culminating in the moment. Certainly, other contribute. However, focusing blame on others significantly limits our ability to gain wisdom from the heart-wrenching disappointments. We subject ourselves to repeats. Taking responsibility for our role has great power. Understanding how we played into the final outcome, enlightens paths for change.
William Glasser, of choice theory, believe blame is often the cause of our misery. He wrote, “but many times in life, when we are miserable it is because we continue to blame others for our misery or try to control others when it is against our best interest to do so” (2010, p. 19).
Neurosis and Blaming
If our needs define life, we neglect the complexity that includes others. We narrow our vision and unfairly condemn intruders that fail to yield to our self-serving purposes. We blame them for interruption of dreams. We blame them for failures. Yet, the blaming is unwarranted. We expect others to act as unimportant pawns in our game of life. Any discomfort then is the cause of some outside force. In psychology we refer to this as externalizing.
Karen Horney wrote, “whether we forget something we are not proud of, or embellish it, or blame somebody else, we want to save face by not owning up to shortcomings.” Horney explains that blaming is a common tool of neurotics. She says that they experience themselves “only as reacting beings.” Horney continues, “this goes deeper than putting the blame on others. It amounts to an unconscious denial of their own shoulds. Life is experienced then as a sequence of pushes and pulls, coming from the outside. In other words, the shoulds themselves are externalized” (2013. Kindle location: 1,941).
Glasser explains, “many clients want to stay in the past. They are afraid to deal with the present problem and are happy to escape into the past to find someone to blame for present unhappiness.” He concludes “to blame is much easier than to choose to change” (2010).
Realistic Expectations and Personal Enlightenment
When open to reality, through connection with others and awareness of differing goals, our knowledge lessens the emotional upheavals from the misguided entitlements of a singular existence. A wider perspective—which includes visions of others’ needs and goals—enhances our experience, transforming selfish emotional reactions to constructive approaches; which may invite closer examination of our selves for contributing causes.
“Blame is just a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.”~Douglas Coupland
When we realistically exam disappointments, the honest openness ushers enlightening insights, growing wisdom and improving futures. The honest examination of self involvement in disappointments develops wisdom to escape future injuries while promoting the growth of character. We don’t master this process. Pain still hurts; disappointments still sting. We just get better at working through them. Wisdom enlarges self-understanding. We learn our limits, cautiously approaching the edges, seeking assistance where needed before floods of emotions overwhelm and destroy.
“A wider perspective—which includes visions of others’ needs and goals—enhances our experience, transforming selfish emotional reactions to more constructive approaches.”~T. Franklin Murphy
Books on the Psychology of Blaming
Setting the ego aside, we accept vulnerabilities of imperfection and individual needs for connectedness. We acknowledge the presence of blemishes both on our selves and others. When difficulties appear, instead of wasting precious energy blaming, we seek constructive answers. But we approach these assessments cautiously, recognizing the perniciousness of judgmental emotions that protect the ego, and divert blame to something more easily digested.
By ignoring personal connectedness to the happenings in our life, we lose power to change; for a mere morsel of relief, we invite continued failings. Happenings occur from complex inputs; others often share in the blame. They may unintentionally—or intentionally—disrupt our plans. When this happens, we must dig a deeper, seeking how we became entangled with the disruptive forces. The answers may stun our senses but knowledge also releases the demons damning our futures.
Glasser, William (2010/1998). Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom. HarperCollins e-books
Horney, Karen (2013/1950). Neurosis and Human Growth: The struggle toward self-realization.