What's the first thing you think when something goes wrong? Often our knee-jerk reaction to assign blame. That might be towards someone else or it might be towards yourself. Have a think, what's your most common reaction when it comes to blame - outwards or inwards?
The great crayon cartoon above made me laugh out loud; the obvious evidence makes the picture so funny, especially when you've heard children (maybe yourself) do the same. When it's perfectly clear who got it wrong, is it necessary to point it out?
Let's think for a moment about what happens when you get blamed for something. I wouldn't be surprised if you feel anger, shame, injustice, humiliation, revenge, in small or large doses, whether you are guilty or even if you're innocent. (I behave in very strange ways when I know there's a police car behind me, even though I'm doing nothing wrong!)
Now let's look at what you want from other people on an ordinary day. Perhaps co-operation, responsibility, respect, listening, helpful, humour, teamwork, honesty, motivation and energy?
You might already see where this is going. Blame doesn't necessarily get you want you want. It might feel like a win when you throw the blame out there but after that, what have you got? Someone who is the opposite of the change-maker you hope for.
Do you want to be right?
(Or do you want to be happy?)
When I ask this at conferences and workshop and people nod in recognition of that choice and then it makes me smile when there's one person who calls out "BOTH!" with great gusto. It's a sign that they're choosing the first one and got a little way to go before they're going to see the advantage of letting it go.
Now, let's be clear I'm not talking about people not being accountable for their actions and some misdemeanors have to have consequences but the question to ask is - does this particular thing matter? Is there anything to be gained (other than a short lived "I'm right!" buzz) by laying the blame with them in this instance?
Also - check if there's a chance you have the wrong person anyway!
Let's also consider that the person you're blaming is yourself. How much good does that do? How does it make you feel? And is that the most useful frame of mind to move forward with?
Here's an alternative...
It is what it is
When you've done something wrong, or they've done something wrong, it's a bit obvious but worth stating - It's already done. The most important question is; What's next? You choose.
You can get embroiled in the blame game in which nobody really wins or you can say to yourself "Oh that's interesting" and move on. Do you want to be right or happy?
I, for one, would love you to be happy.
More of the time, even all of the time!
And on the 'getting it wrong' front in general, I like to remember that we're all doing the best we can with what we have and we all get it wrong sometimes. Rarely is anything actually done with malicious intent. And if it is, then what's that person afraid of? Happy, balanced people rarely do hurtful things. Let's have a go at being more balanced ourselves, being kind to yourself in your own mind and let a few things slide, you've got enough else going on! Take a break and take care of you.
Have a wonderful April. And if you're in the UK, you've made it through the winter - well done! If you're elsewhere in the world I hope it's lovely where you are.