When tempted to blame, propose self-responsible solutions

This Week’s Article:
When tempted to blame, propose self-responsible solutions.

Blaming is endemic these days.

It is almost as if western culture has spawned several generations of ‘helpless victims’ seeking redress for crimes, real or imagined, committed against them. This victim mentality often rears its head when something goes wrong, and things often do go wrong—due another western concept—that of unlimited freedom.

Extreme Example

I remember reading of a lawsuit where a couple of drunken students climbed an eight-foot fence to toboggan down a mountain. There were clear warning signs posted, in addition to the fence. (This would be the entitlement part—“we have the right to do whatever we want to.”) The students crashed into a tree—one was killed, the other paralyzed. There was a lawsuit. (This would be the ‘poor, helpless victim’ part—“Look what happened to me, through no fault of my own!”.)

The living drunken idiot won. The decision was that the owners of the mountaintop had not done “everything possible” to keep the students from exercising their entitlement.

The students seemed to think they had the right to circumvent the fence and disregard the signs, and were not in any way responsible for their actions. Had they been stooped, they would have cried, “This is a violation of my rights!” Yet their actions had no bearing, apparently, on their self-responsibility for their injuries.

Now, you may be thinking, “How is this possible?” Yet I can almost guarantee that there have been points in your life when you blamed another for what you were

  • feeling, (“He makes me so angry!”)
  • doing, (“I had no choice. She made me hit her.”)
  • or even thinking, (“My father was an evil man, and now I can’t get evil thoughts out of my head.”)

In short, blaming behaviour is anything that allows you to sidestep responsibility—total responsibility—for what you do, think, say, or feel.

Conditioning Starts Early

the lecture

We are conditioned (how often have you heard a parent say to a kid, “When you spill peas, you make me so sad!!!”) to think that others cause us to behave in certain ways we find objectionable, yet, when pressed, it is impossible to demonstrate compulsion. To go back to the two morons on the toboggan— who ‘made’ them climb the fence and ignore the signs? How does it follow that, just because they have the ‘right’ to be stupid, actually being stupid and getting hurt is someone else’s fault?

Or, more on topic, how does anyone get away with thinking that others have some nefarious power over him or her —that, if it wasn’t for them, he or she would never mess up, but somehow they ‘make me.’
Poor me, poor helpless victim of a big, bad world filled with ‘them.’

Well, phooey.

What We Need Are More People to Choose to Grow Up

There is no way to get others and the world to ‘behave.’ Things happen and, as we have been saying, we then interpret (give meaning to—right / wrong, good / bad, etc.) those things. We put the spin on the details of our life. No one makes us define things a certain way.

Once we see this, we can ask, “What do I want here?”

To blame another is to make myself a victim of her or his behaviour. To recognize that others are not predisposed behave the way I want them to, or to agree with me ‘just because,’ is the beginning of wisdom.

It is the same for everyone. Each person sees the world from a uniquely personal perspective, and here is a hint: others see the world through their experience, filters, and understandings, not yours! What others think, do, and say are what they think do, and say. It is not about you. What is totally about you is how you live your life, and how you respond to the situations you confront.

The Cult of Self-responsibility

I just had a flash! I often describe myself (in workshops) as the president of the Cult of Self-responsibility. A woman once demanded that I stop saying that, because she’d had a bad experience with a cult. I suggested she get over herself.
Imagine a world where I (or you) can only speak words approved of by others. I vote ‘no!’

So, what is a self-responsible solution (SRS)? A SRS is one where I let others know what I am thinking, and what I will do. Period. As such, the pronoun one uses to convey a SRS is ‘I.’ Here is who I am, what I think, and what I will do.

And then, being a person of integrity, you do what you say you will do.

To get into blaming is the perfect way to never resolve anything, while at the same time being able to pretend self-righteousness, through making others guilty for your behaviour!

SRS, on the other hand, are not determined by others, and are not dependent upon others for their implementation. There is no one other than you that can take responsibility for what you will do. That’s what makes it self responsible.

Think about the number of times you have used ‘the blame game’ to get off the hook for personal responsibility. Think about all of the times you have blamed your parents, partner, co-workers, for things going wrong in your life. Think about sitting there, whining, and blaming, and notice that no situation changes until you do.

Then, adopt self-responsible solutions as your way of being. Own up to where you are, who you are and what you will do.

Then, do it. No excuses. Your life will never be the same.

We Used to Raise Self-Responsible People

An Article Addressed to the Present Generation

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing and didn’t get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no child proof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat. We’d pack the back of a station wagon with a pack of kids, and head off and be dropped off at the neighborhood fair.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and NO ONE actually died from this. We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us (by cell phone, for god’s sake…!) all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps, and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X‑boxes, no video games at all, no colour TV with 99 channels on cable, no DVD movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no internet or internet chat rooms.….…..WE HAD FRIENDS, and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very
many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little league had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an
explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “When tempted to blame, propose self-responsible solutions”

  1. You broke it, you fix it.”
    “Want it? Then earn it.”
    “Its not good enough? Make it better.”

    Just a few of the many S‑R maxims that ruled the world of my childhood. Today, that point of view has largely been replaced by a bee-hive mentality

    You’ve certainly ‘nailed’ the issue here…and I’ll be sending as many as I can to read and digest what you’ve said. Good work. Keep it up!

    • Thanks, William,
      Most of my work for 30 years has been living and teaching 100% self-responsibility. I’m just re-doing the Bodywork section on my site, and noticing how much it also reflects this way of being — as in, what’s happening physically is also all about us.
      Glad you found the article useful, and thanks for sending others.


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