Things go wrong. It’s what things do. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I am well aware of this. The Cowboys players and coaches are not available for me to yell at. My TV is. It’s human nature to assign blame when things go sideways. But despite all the “blame” I’ve directed at my TV, it still keeps showing me the Dallas Cowboys losing.
Or consider traffic. You’re already running late for an important meeting, and the freeway is backed up to an agonizing crawl. You get angry at the other drivers, the “rubberneckers” who must be causing this with their rubbernecking ways. And your kids were in rare form this morning, screaming and stomping around the kitchen like Godzilla on a soda binge. If only your spouse wouldn’t let them have all that sugar, you could get out of the house more easily in the mornings. If you don’t get that holiday bonus this year, you’ll remind your spouse that she’s largely to blame because . . .
What really causes traffic jams? Nothing. Everything. Same thing that causes rain on your picnic or cancer in your body. But it’s human nature to make things into a drama, a story with a beginning, middle and end. Because stories have heroes, and stories have villains. You tend to perceive suffering in your life as something being done to you, some villainous wrong that you, the hero, must right.
We assign blame because we like to imagine that life is an understandable problem to be solved. We like to imagine that we can control things much more than we can. We blame others. We blame ourselves. We blame our appliances.
When you blame someone, you’re essentially saying Things would be better for everyone involved if only he/she would try harder at this/that. Which means every time you blame someone, you’re reinforcing the idea that problems get solved when people try harder. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it isn’t. Because often, “trying harder” amounts to little more than yelling louder at the TV. Change your life where you can. Make friends with it where you can’t. There is incredible freedom and peacefulness in surrendering, without blame, to the mysterious flow of life.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.