Whether in families, workplaces, or courts, finding who’s to blame and what the “appropriate” punishment would be is a central preoccupation when our own needs or those of someone we care about are not met. This habit goes so deep that for many of us it becomes completely automatic to the point of having no awareness that we are doing it.
Even when we wake up to the costs of blaming and want to change this habit, it may take much practice over time to be able to recognize in the moment that we have fallen prey to this persistent pattern. Until then, we will likely have no room to maneuver. Even after years of practice, I still recognize that temptation and it takes some conscious choice to pull my energy inward and away from the other person.
Cultivating self-responsibility and releasing blame is a practice that we can do over time. Initially, we are not likely to even notice that we are blaming someone until after we’ve done it and we become aware of the consequences to us of blaming another. That moment of waking up is of great significance in terms of our capacity, over time, to move closer to where we want to be, so we can create more inner space to notice and more willingness to move towards self-responsibility.
Gentleness toward Self
As part of this soft engagement with ourselves, we can become curious to understand why our energy is drawn to blaming. Why is it so important to blame, especially given that it’s against so many other values we are trying to cultivate? What we discover can help us soften towards ourselves even more as we understand that however rewarding self-responsibility can be, it is a strenuous practice. Aside from simply being habitual, blaming others can be tempting because it protects us from the challenge of finding the willingness to take ownership of our needs and reactions.
If we can receive ourselves gently when we blame, our internal organism will naturally want to wake up, because the result of waking up is openness. If we blame ourselves, we are less likely to gravitate toward more waking up. In addition, gentleness toward ourselves prepares us for shifting out of blame toward everyone else and opening to their humanity as well.