I just love Brene´ Brown. I want to encourage you to check her out. She has given one of the most popular TED talks of all time. (watch her vulnerability talk here) I’m sure you’ll identify with what she shares.
Recently, I came across her animated video on Blame – it’s brilliant and I’m sure we can all relate.
The problem of blaming has been around since the beginning of creation.
When Adam initially sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating from the tree of life, he didn’t stand up like a real man and take responsibility. Instead he blamed his woman.
“It was Eve, she gave me the fruit” …Adam then went on to even blame God…”it was the woman you gave me who brought me some.”
Eve didn’t fare much better and she in turn blamed the snake – and we’ve all been doing it ever since.
Rick Warren reminds us that embedded in our fallen nature is the instinct to not only dodge the blame but shift it to someone, or something else.
When we were raising children, common statements I made were, “Who did this?” “I put my book here, who’s moved it?” “The toaster is broken, who used it last?”
It’s easier to blame someone than have to look to yourself and take responsibility.
Or as Brene says, to realise and acknowledge that ‘stuff just happens’. Like toasters just stop working. It isn’t anyone’s fault.
That deep seated need to be right is often at the core of so many problems and disputes.
I found myself behaving in this fashion just the other day. Our daughter had called me out on something that had happened and I’m ashamed to admit that I immediately became defensive and blamed her. I felt in this instance that she was wrong and I was right. To cut a long story short – in her eyes I had broken her confidence. I had said something I shouldn’t and she was deeply upset with me. I felt that she was being unreasonable and irrational – but she may have been 5% right 🙂 – I had kind of broken her confidence.
But because I am the more mature person – and because I teach this stuff at our events, I modelled exemplary behaviour to our daughter – and I blamed her instead!! :). I said something like ….
“honey this is not my fault, and it’s totally unfair of you to be upset with me. You yourself need to accept that it’s your own fault that this has blown up. You have no right to be angry with me.”
Yes this is how NOT to do it.
And then to top it off, in typical Eve fashion I said…. “actually Dad was the one who’s at fault here. He’s made the situation much worse”. A great example right?
Blaming is never a good thing in fact all it does is sabotage relationships.
You see rather than take responsibility for my own poor behaviour I justified my actions to myself, blamed her and shifted some blame to Andy too.
It wasn’t long before I sensed God nudging me, saying “Nikki, why do you look at the speck of sawdust in Olivia’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your daughter, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
Focus on our own behaviour
Scripture can be so convicting can’t it? I started to feel terrible, and when I focused on my poor behaviour I could clearly see Olivia’s own hurt and disappointment.
I then needed to deal with my own pride and sincerely apologise, and when I did that, our relationship was totally restored. Taking responsibility for our own behaviour, and then asking for forgiveness is so humbling. On paper it sounds so easy but it’s incredibly hard.
I have a friend who has a lovely way of handling these life situations. He isn’t a blame shifter. He’ll be the first to put his hand up, and with a smile say, “it was me, I did it.” Or his kiddy will spill some milk, and with a laugh he’ll just say, “come on, let’s clean it up together.” He doesn’t seem to get emotionally drawn into situations. He sees things at face value, and solves the issue. It’s so disarming.
So my own personal lesson here – and hopefully I can encourage you to do the same, is to put my hand up and take responsibility for my own shortcomings rather than passing them off to someone, or something else.