When things aren’t going well in life, we may blame circumstances or people for our lack of life satisfaction. Whether the blame is directed outward or inward, these self-limiting stories keep us stuck in the blame cycle. We may feel confused, lost, helpless, or hopeless. While these emotions are valid and should be recognized, we need to realize that we do not have to feel these things. Ultimately, we are responsible for what we feel and do. You have the power to change your emotional state, but first, you must accept personal responsibility and learn to challenge yourself.
An Introduction to Personal Responsibility
When we feel like we are stuck in life or a situation, we are not acknowledging the incredible role we play in shaping our own lives. Accepting personal responsibility allows us to become empowered in our relationships and take steps toward concrete solutions instead of focusing on the perceived problems. Personal responsibility is the willingness to take ownership of our needs, emotions, and behaviors. At the same time, we must look outside ourselves to gain perspective on the situation and look for solutions that take others into account.
If you have not accepted personal responsibility yet, you may have beliefs like, “It’s not my fault I am like this,” or, “I want you to fix me,” or “Look what you made me do.” You have to challenge yourself to let go of feelings of blame in favor or accepting personal responsibility. Other people are not responsible for your emotions or actions. It is your responsibility to make sure your needs are met and to communicate those needs effectively with the people in your life.
Not accepting personal responsibility can have negative consequences that pervade all areas of your life. You may become overly dependent on others for approval, are constantly angry or depressed about how you have been treated, or are unsuccessful in personal relationships. In addition, you may find yourself overwhelmed by fears, unable to make a decision, and in poor health.
There are vulnerable emotions underlying blame. As a result of experiencing an emotion, we change the meaning of what happened to fit our emotional experience. Yet, we blame others for our emotions and behaviors. Instead of blaming others for their insensitivities toward you, recognize it is your job to help others become more aware and responsive to your feelings.
Why the Blame Game Is a Lame Game
Why play a game that no one ever wins, especially if it isn’t even fun? When you place blame on someone else, you are sending a message that this person needs to change their behavior. Consequently, you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration. You may ruminate about these feelings you perceive to be caused by others. In fact, before you know it, you realize that most of your time is spent feeling disappointed or frustrated.
Blame is a seductive game that everyone plays at some point. It’s cultural and habitual, so we may be playing it without even realizing it. We are vulnerable to feelings of blame because we are human. Even so, we do not have to act on the feelings. Here are some other reasons why this game is not worth your time.
You Are Robbed of an Opportunity to Empathize with Someone
Instead of being pulled toward feelings of blame, you could try empathizing with someone instead. Ask yourself what needs the other person has that led them to the behavior you want to point blame at them for. This level of understanding of others cannot be achieved through the lens of blame.
It Damages Intimacy and Connection
No one wants to be intimate with someone who is always blaming others. Challenge yourself to openly and honestly communicate your feelings, perhaps using an “I feel” statement instead of saying “You made me…” or “Because of you….” If you’re highly sensitive, you may feel a responsibility for the emotions of others that prevents you from displaying vulnerable emotions. Just as other people are not responsible for your emotions, you are not responsible for theirs.
You Do Not See the Truth in the Situation
When you blame others, you inevitably deny some truth in the situation, your role in the situation, and your subsequent power to change the situation.
You Give Away Your Power
When you blame others, you may feel you attempted to resolve the situation. In reality, you have given away your power and ability to change to the other person.
You Get Stuck in a Fixed Mindset
People caught in the blame game have a fixed mindset of blaming others which reinforces negative patterns. On the contrary, a growth mindset is characterized by a state of continuous learning and expansion.
If you are tired of playing the blame game, challenge yourself to take personal responsibility. Challenge yourself to reconsider the meanings you have given to situations in which you pointed blame. Instead of saying, “I did this because of you,” try saying, “I did this because I was hurt.” Our emotional responses are not caused by others. They are based on the meanings we assign them, and we are free to choose the meaning we give. That is where our power lies.
Challenge Yourself: The Benefits
It is courageous to take an honest look at our own behavior. We are vulnerable when we acknowledge that we could have been more aware or could have done better in a situation. This is not the same as blaming or judging ourselves. You can combat feelings of blame by seeking to be more aware of yourself and others. Awareness is both the first step and a continual process.
When you blame others, you miss the opportunity to learn more about yourself and others. However, when you challenge yourself to be personally responsible, you strive to become more aware of your knowledge, skills, and limitations.
Developing positive self-talk that steers away from blame facilitates self-growth. In the challenge to accept personal responsibility, you give up your fixed mindset in exchange for a growth mindset.
Improved Mental and Physical Health
When you assertively communicate your needs to someone, you are letting your mental and emotional health needs be known. A healthy mind helps keep us physically healthy as well. By challenging yourself to improve your physical and mental health, you will see improvements in other areas of your life.
Setting and Achieving Goals
By casting blame to the side, you stop holding onto the limiting belief that external forces are preventing you from reaching your goals. By not focusing on blaming, you will have more time to set and conquer your goals. It’s a wise idea to give your goal a time frame, such as a month.
The Chance to Advance Your Career
When you take personal responsibility for your life, you have to look at the areas of your life that you are unsatisfied with or want to improve. If your career is one of those things, then you can challenge yourself to set and achieve goals. Deliberately setting goals can help improve the present situation.
Be a Better Friend or Partner
Simply reaching out and listening to a friend or partner can improve your relationship with them. By gaining knowledge and understanding of others and yourself, you can combat feelings of blame.
Increased Creativity and Inspiration
Inspiration does not just pop up out of nowhere. To become inspired, you must challenge yourself to seek the inspiration you desire. This can involve setting aside your limiting beliefs and being open to new ideas.
Gain New Experiences
When you are stuck in a fixed mindset, you may find yourself stuck in a dreadful work routine and a tiring interpersonal blame game. When you challenge yourself to have a growth mindset, you become open to try new things and gain new experiences. While these old patterns can help us feel safe, we must be open to changing them to foster new experiences and real growth.
Peace and Happiness
You cannot achieve sustainable happiness if you blame others for your unhappiness. You are responsible for your peace and happiness. These can be challenges in and of themselves. The key is to discover what makes you happy and then take the time to do those things.
By blaming others, you give them a power that could otherwise be used to transform your life. While blame assigns negative intent to another, taking personal responsibility acknowledges your part is wrong. You may think, “but I did nothing wrong,” but wrong and right are too limiting of terms to apply to complex emotional reactions.
By accepting responsibility, you allow yourself the freedom to choose how you respond to any situation. You take your power back. Acknowledge your action or inaction that played a role in the situation. You need to realize that we all come from a different background and are at a different level of awareness that shapes our interpersonal reactions. While others may blame us, we do not have to go on the defensive. Alternatively, we can help them become more aware of the needs driving their reactions.