Blame is a sensitive issue for me. Not because I tend to blame others for my way of being and feeling. Judging others is not my strong suit. Judging myself on the other hand, I excel at that! The painful reality is that in the long run, there is very little difference between judging ourselves verses another. Whether we externalize or internalize blame, at the core is the same issue: feelings of inadequacy and lack of worth. Feelings that are born from questioning our value.
For a very long time, I held onto a fantasy. I thought that if I said the right thing in the best way and behaved in some magically appealing manner, that I would finally feel loved and accepted. The chains of oppression birthed from guilt and insecurities would drop away as I experienced unconditional love and well-being. Well, maybe it’s just me, but I’m well into my fifties and I’ve yet to see that happen. Eventually, I had to come to terms with reality: If I sit around waiting for some fairy godmother to grant me love and acceptance, I will die still hoping and waiting for that day to come.
So, I started down the yellow brick road to self acceptance. Understanding and accepting is the first step out of denial, right? But, my monkey mind is strong, my neuroses are not that easily calmed, and I had to admit that ultimately I would have to face the pain that I carried and kept buried deep down: Am I of value to the world in which I reside? Am I of value to myself? And, will I ever genuinely experience appreciation for my own being?
How does this relate to blame? It is our hidden desires (or maybe not so hidden for some) that drive us to hold another responsible for how we feel and our well-being. Maybe it’s life’s circumstances, other’s misconceptions of us, or a multitude of things. Excuses are easy to come by. The reaction can create suffering through denial, or encourage us to dig deeper, observe the root cause, and heal the pain. In other words, we can blame – internally or externally – or accept genuine responsibility for how we feel.
For me, blaming is a form of bullying. On some level, a bully feels inadequate, denies his or her feelings, and then attempts to bring others down in order to feel more equal and less inferior. Bullies push their own agenda of denial and suffering out and into the world. Blamers attempt to get others to take responsibility for their own pain and suffering by bullying others into believing that they cannot and do not create their own suffering.
In order for blaming to succeed as a means to run from pain, we need a scapegoat. Some one or thing that is readily available to assume and take on responsibility for the pain and suffering. When we bully and blame ourselves, the message may be centered in self talk: they must be right, there is something wrong with me, I deserve to be treated this way, and so on. When others are holding us responsible for how they feel, we are the target and means for their denials and defense mechanisms. Those who take on the culpability for another’s feelings are the yin to the blamer’s yang.
My weakness is internalizing blame by holding myself responsible for things that I am not. It’s silly really. I take offense if another assumes responsibility for how I feel. Yet, I have no problem thinking that I must have done something offensive and inappropriate to cause another’s unhappiness. Naturally, I would deny any influence if they were happy instead. It seems as though I have set myself up for a lifetime of pessimism towards myself and optimism towards others. Otherwise, I must be in denial since I can’t be trusted to honestly evaluate my own short comings. And the monkey swings on.
Yet, I know that none of my neuroses and doubts truly reflects my authentic being. I know because I center my life in an awareness of unlimited potential in all. After all, I can’t possibly be so special as to be the only one who does not deserve love and acceptance? In spite of my doubts and fears, I am quite certain that the greatest challenge of the human experience is this: self acceptance, self love, and self appreciation. Not the Disney kind, the real deal.
As I face a more genuine reality, I often find myself in a quandary. Instead of justifying my insecurities by taking on others blame, I must admit to my own tendency to blame and bully my own self. I am encouraged to own my ability to readily take on the role of scapegoat, codependent, and less than. As I become more visible to myself, I let go of attaching my identity to how others see me.
When we believe in our own value, we release the need to rely on others views of us as an indicator of our worth. The need for external gratification via approval and acceptance ceases to define who we are. We can help free and support ourselves – and in turn those around us – from the tyranny of blame. Space for compassion, empathy, and gentleness are expanded. As I allow for loving kindness to be expressed towards my own self, I increase my capacity to reflect the same to others.