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Stop Blaming Other People and Take Control Over Your Life

Photo Credit: Adi Goldstein

If you’re the kind of person who is always looking for someone to blame, welcome to the club! That was me. But I didn’t even realize that was what I was doing until I got into recovery. I’ve come to realize that I have an internal blamer that almost always wants to point the finger elsewhere.

I’ll give an example. One night, when I was sleeping at my sweetheart’s place, I woke up, and the pillow between my knees was missing. My first thought was, “That fucker stole my pillow!” Do you see that?! I went from unconsciousness right into blame! It was a reflex.

First of all, in my waking life, I have never once thought of him as “that fucker.” Secondly, the pillow was on the floor on my side of the bed. And third, he was sound asleep.

That’s how insidious that blaming part of us can be.

You get to stop blaming other people, circumstances, and institutions for your problems. Note I said, “get to” not “have to.” It’s a choice you can make.

If other people really are to blame for everything that's wrong with your life, you’re screwed! If that’s true, then you have no options, and you might as well crawl under a rock.

Now, of course, that’s not what I believe. When you realize other people are not to blame for your problems, you can then take responsibility for making change in your life. That is, you have options.

This doesn't mean nobody has ever done anything harmful to you. It means that if you focus entirely on what other people or society did to you, then you’re never going to try to make any changes in your life because you believe you don't have options. But you do. Blaming others is acting as if your fate has been sealed.

In part 2 of my 5-part series on victim mentality, I mentioned two perfect examples of people from history who were horribly harmed yet chose not to blame: Nelson Mandela and Victor Frankl. They both chose not to blame and instead, focused on what they could do. They lived through some of the worst atrocities that could be committed on humans but did not blame. They made choices about what to do with their lives given the circumstances they were faced with. 

That means it’s possible for you and I. You can make choices with your life - even if you don’t believe it’s possible right this moment. 

When you blame others, you keep the focus on them. That means you’re never going to have a different life because you’re not even going to try to do anything about it. Even if other people did cause something and are to blame, it's not helping you to blame them. Nothing is changing by you blaming them. It may very well be keeping you stuck where you are.

When you stop blaming other people and start looking for ways in which you can make a difference, that’s when everything will start to change. When you stop blaming other people, you’re coming out of victim mentality or what’s sometimes referred to as learned helplessness. 

If you've learned helplessness, then you can unlearn it. You can learn to help yourself and to reach out to the right kinds of people who can help you change things if you need such help.

When you blame other people, you will not focus on yourself and what you can do in the here and now. If your life sucks and you want it to change, stop blaming others. When you continually blame, you’re abandoning yourself. You’re abandoning yourself and putting the focus entirely on them while you’re the one who’s stuck.

This is yet another reason why one of the most important things that I teach my clients is to keep the focus on yourself. Like the Serenity Prayer says, we need the wisdom to know the difference between the things we can and cannot change. One of the central tasks of life is discerning if what’s going on is something we can or cannot change. Once we know, we can put our energy toward the things we can change and accept the things we can’t. When we’re stuck in blame, we’re not able to do that.

Once you understand what you can control and you put your focus on that, then it’s a matter of getting the courage to change the things you can. But you're never going to change anything if all you do is focus on other people and what they did or did not do to you. If you continue to blame others for things you haven’t accomplished, you’ll never accomplish them. This isn’t about beating yourself up (i.e., shifting blame from them to you) it’s about taking responsibility for your own life. You get to do that.

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