If you’ve been around kids for very long, you know that the Blame Game gets played often. “It’s not my fault!” “It wasn’t me, it was him!” Or “I couldn’t, because (fill in the blank).” Wait a minute, that sounds like some Moms I know…and I’m one of them.
Avoiding responsibility for a situation comes naturally, but it really rears its head when the crunch is on. There are three common situations when making excuses tends to the be the default reaction, and I’m sure you can think of more:
• When the to-do list and a deadline collide
• When it’s scary to do something
• When it’s convenient to blame someone for what we didn’t get done
Let’s look at these situations one by one:
When the To-Do List and a Deadline Collide
Looking at a long to-do list then glancing at our calendar can lead to a feeling of panic. When we start thinking “impossible” the next order of business is to look for an escape. Of course there are times when the list is totally unrealistic, but often we stamp “no way” on a project just because it looks hard. Since it seems overwhelming we start looking for the exit clause by blaming our schedule or our headache or our kids. We expect everyone to understand our special circumstances and give us a break. “It’s not my fault!”
Unfortunately this attitude is rampant in our society these days.
When It’s Scary to Do Something
This one’s a little tricky because we don’t usually realize what we’re doing. When faced with an uncomfortable task that stretches us, we seek to avoid the discomfort by consoling ourselves with excuses of why we can’t possibly do the thing. “I couldn’t because…” When we voice the excuses and others are quick to agree with us, we think we’re off the hook. Except that deep down we’re disappointed in ourselves.
When It’s Convenient to Blame Someone for What We Didn’t Get Done
This is reminiscent of the kids….”It wasn’t me, it was him!” We get into such a habit of mentally assigning blame to everyone and everything except ourselves that we start believing it. Not only do we hold ourselves back from achieving things that would bring great rewards, we water and fertilize resentment and bitterness towards the people we blame. What’s sad is that they’re often family members.
I caught myself in the act just yesterday. I was leaving on a trip and ended up running behind. My thoughts immediately turned to why it was my husband’s fault or my son’s fault and I grumbled. It wasn’t pretty. Suddenly it hit me that I was blaming. It actually calmed me down to take responsibility for my lateness. It empowered me to look at the situation and find solutions, rather than be a helpless victim.
Before we look at practical steps to leave the blame game, here are a few good quotes to chew on:
“Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.” ~ George Washington Carver
“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you.” ~ Wayne Dyer
“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.” ~ Lou Holtz
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.” ~ Jim Rohn
What does this look like in real life?
Three short tips you can start doing now:
1. Catch yourself blaming–quick–and stop it. Turn on the blame radar. Take a good look at your thoughts and reactions, and see how often they turn to blame.
2. Change your language. Rather than “I have to stay home because the kids are sick” say “I choose to stay home.” “I have to” isn’t true—you could make other arrangements. You’re making a choice based on your priorities. Either way, it’s a completely differently feeling to acknowledge personal choice rather than thinking you’re helplessly forced into a circumstance.
3. Think solutions rather than problems. Searching for excuses keeps you focused on why you can’t. Figuring out how you WILL accomplish the task gives you energy and power.
Admitting that you’ve been playing the Blame Game isn’t exactly fun. But getting out of the game can improve your relationships, your stress level and your life!