All entrepreneurs struggle with motivation. Finding the why we’re doing something is hard enough without spending time trying to squelch the negative thoughts we have that are always an arm’s length away. One of these negative thoughts is blame. If you ask one hundred people what blame is you’ll get slightly different takes. All of them will hover around the issue of a responsibility we haven’t lived up to in some way. What isn’t clear, however, is why does this cause blame? Why do we feel blame has any place in our lives? This is the key question I want to address here.
What Is Blame REALLY?
Is blame nothing more than an acknowledgment that we’ve fallen short in some way? You’re supposed to pick up your best friend after work and go to dinner. You get lost or leave late or whatever. Bottom line is you end up getting there too late for dinner. You’ve messed up. Your friend is mad but they don’t stop liking you because of it. You, on the other hand, feel awful because of what you’ve done. Why is this?
I believe from an early age we are taught when we fail at something (or fail someone) that we are somehow less. If we feel badly enough about it, God or the Universe will excuse our failing. If we don’t feel bad enough about it, there is something wrong with us. This I believe is where the shift happens between responsibility and blame. We had a responsibility to pick up our friend and we’ve failed at it so we are to blame for anything that transpires relative to this. Bear with me. I know this sounds ridiculous but do we really act like it is when it counts?
For example, if your being late causes your friend to go on a shooting spree would you feel that you are to blame? Of course not. But if being late caused your friend’s blood sugar levels to drop to comatose levels you would feel at least a little blame, right? Of course, your friend should know how to take care of their diabetes. However, do we blame ourselves because in some twisted way it makes us feel better? Like if we condemn ourselves before the rest of the world does it will soften the psychic blow?
Is Blame Only a Matter of Chronology?
Let’s say you agree to bring the bottled water for the office party. Your water heater goes out on you so you barely get to work before the party. You’ve completely forgotten about the water. When you show up people are mad until they hear your story. Most of them will let you off the hook, right? Why can’t you let yourself off the hook? Because it was your responsibility to bring water and you’ve failed so you’re blaming yourself.
Here’s the curve ball. Before your water heater went out, you already had a responsibility to bring water. After it went out, you still had that responsibility (and you could still leave work and get water if absolutely necessary) but because you’ve failed you now own the blame for not living up to expectations or something equally grand.
In other words, did the passage of time create blame or were you always to blame for the water? No, you weren’t to blame for the water until you didn’t bring it. So your responsibility shifted to blame by that one simple act of omission.
Stop Blaming Yourself!
I am not for a minute suggesting that you commit to things you have no intention of doing. Nor would I say that nothing is ever your fault. All I’m saying is we need to revise the language we use in our self talk so we can see the good we do and not focus on our shortcomings. I believe blaming yourself for one thing after another can seriously impact your mindset and ultimately, your impact in this world.
So, stop blaming yourself but accept your responsibilities!
Try This Today
For today, see how many times you blame yourself for things that may have been your responsibility. Honor the responsibility but chuck the blame. Also, notice how many things you blame yourself for that you had NO responsibility for. I think you’ll be very surprised how many things like this that come up in a day.
Ok, when you notice them I want you to take a deep, slow breath in and a deep, slow breath out and say “I accept the responsibility but NOT the blame for this! If I caused some harm, I will make it right!” Say this even for the things you identify are NOT your responsibility. This way your mind will be able to let the negative thoughts go.
I know it can be tough at first to really listen to yourself and not just have a knee jerk reaction. That’s ok. It’s another thing that will just take some practice.
Talk To Me!
Let me know if this article has helped you release some pent up negativity and allowed you to feel just a bit lighter today. Also, let me hear any outrageous thoughts you’ve had about what was and was not your responsibility. Take it from a recovering self sabotager: just because you think something’s your responsibility doesn’t mean it is! Or do you think this is all just mental hair splitting? Let me know your thoughts because they DO matter!