Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. All recommendations and opinions posted are my own and are not associated with any institutions I am affiliated with.
Blaming others for what is our own fault is the oldest trick in the book for getting out of trouble. Everyone does it. From small children blaming their siblings for something they did, to governments around the world asserting there was an imminent threat to justify cold blooded murder.
The punishment that we receive when we do something wrong is necessary, but unfortunately in the confusing brave new world of cyber hacks and information leaks, the punishment often does not fit the crime.
Blaming people comes down to having a fear of owning up to one’s mistakes. This runs deep in many different issues, and even many adults have a big problem with taking responsibility for their actions. Actions have consequences, whether good or bad, every time a decision is made by someone, it starts a ripple effect that can unknowingly go a lot further than initially intended.
Retribution cannot be put off forever. Whether or not one believes in karma, its core value is sound. What you put out into the universe, will come back to you. If you accept and understand the gravity of your actions, you can become a better person. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, we all make them, big and small. However, never understanding someone else’s emotions, and never thinking about the affect your words can have can cause enormous pain to others. Acting proud of yourself by consistently avoiding blame and transferring onto others is cowardly, irresponsible and neglectful. By avoiding the blame, you are also avoiding a chance to grow.
However there is a big difference between taking responsibility and beating yourself up about a mistake. If we acknowledge what we have done and work towards improving ourselves it is much more productive than wallowing in sorrow or embarrassment in our problems.
There are steps that everyone can take to reduce the hurt caused by their actions. It’s simple, but it still takes time to change a mindset that is created on avoiding the blame.
1. Acknowledge the other party – Something you’ve said or done has hurt someone. Why? Can you see their point of view? Even if you are emotional or clouded, maybe ask them how they are feeling. Don’t say you ‘didn’t mean it’ – it doesn’t matter now, the hurt has been done, time to start the healing.
2. Apologise – Say sorry! A lot of people have a surprisingly hard time at doing this. Be meaningful. Actually be sorry before you say sorry. Don’t just hollowly apologise to cover up a situation with a band-aid solution. See how the other person is feeling and genuinely apologise, with heart and head.
3. Don’t expect forgiveness or anything in return – don’t apologise to seem ‘gallant’ or any other selfish motivation. The other person or party may not forgive you straight away, but this isn’t the point of apologising. The point is to acknowledge any wrongdoing and take the pressure off the other person. Check in to see if they are coping if you have not heard from them in a while. This is important to show you truly care about them.
4. Move on – you’ve apologised. You’re genuinely sorry. Now change your actions to reflect the apology, maybe you’ve said something hurtful and acted irrationally. In a similar situation in future, you can try and act differently. This is hard in the heat of the moment but it’s important to learn from mistakes. Otherwise they will keep being made over and over again.
Not everyone is going to act like this. Some people will believe they are right in every way, every time. This is a toxic way of thinking and this kind of person should be avoided. We all have the potential to grow and become kinder at any point in our lives, and we should work harder at it to make the world a better place.