Speaking on blame
by ROB COOMBS ID. Min. Ph.D.
Feb 24, 2013 | 291 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I still remember a middle-school teacher being accused of something by an irritated student. The teacher instructed the class, “Everyone point your finger at me.” We did while validating in our minds that our teacher had, indeed, lost his own mind. “Now look at your hand. When you point one finger toward me, you are pointing three fingers back at yourself.”

“Yeah, right,” “Who cares,” “Well, that’s pretty stupid,” were only a few of the comments drifting around class. I laughed and commented too, since everyone else was. He ignored us and went on to make his point. That’s how it is with blame. When you point the finger of blame, remember that you will always have three fingers pointing back at yourself. Fortunately, I never forgot his words.

As an adult, I understand all too well that when we point the finger of blame, we in reality become the subject of our own unhappiness. Realizing and understanding this is far from stupid. In fact, failing to realize this is certain to make us feel foolish.

What is blame? A quick trip to the dictionary and blaming doesn’t look too pretty. “To find fault with; to hold others responsible; to censure, denounce, condemn, and criticize.” If blame is obviously so negative, it’s reasonable to ask why do we blame? There are a couple of obvious reasons.

1. Blame is easy. Rather than assume responsibility for yourself, you conveniently blame someone or something else. “My kids are driving me crazy.” “The dog ate my homework.” “My wife is always making me late.” “You would take drugs too if you had a mother like mine.” By finding fault in everything and anything else, blame becomes an attempt to abdicate personal responsibility. Sadly, the more you censure, denounce, condemn, and criticize others, the more you become the subject of your unhappiness. So what begins easily, becomes increasingly destructive as you become the object of your own blame–one finger pointing out, three fingers point at you.

2. Blame is external. As long as you are censuring, denouncing, condemning, and criticizing everyone else, you are afforded the luxury of never having to really look at your own shortcomings. Since everything is somehow, someway, everyone else’s fault, as long as you blame others you never have to consider how you might have participated when things go wrong. Although it may feel like you have absolved yourself of any and all responsibility by pointing the finger of blame, remember that the other three fingers pointing back at you will serve to stunt your own growth.

By continually pointing the finger of blame, the three fingers pointing back at ourselves will ultimately result in a failure to see how even the most difficult realities that we face in life can be opportunities for personal growth. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

When things go wrong, if we blame, we are looking back at that closed door and missing a perfect opportunity to see another door that opens as result of what we have learned by fully accepting our responsibility when things go wrong.

Pointing the finger of blame just isn’t worth the risk of what it does to you.