My kids love to play board games. I do too, but I don’t play as often as they do. So, I lose quite a bit. We played Catan together recently, a game they play a lot and knew all the moves and strategies for winning, and I was losing bad. But there was a new game I played while I was in Japan that I fell in love with, and the more I played, because I loved it, the better I got. And the more I was able beat my adult children. Which made this momma feel really good about herself.
But oh, the Blame Game. It’s one game that the more you play, the more you lose.
Blaming others is a common human behavior where individuals attribute their problems, mistakes, or failures to other people rather than taking responsibility themselves. This tendency to blame others often leads to negative consequences such as strained relationships, conflict, and a lack of personal growth.
One reason we tend to look for someone or something to blame is because our brains always trying to make sense of our world and the things we experience. It’s what our brains do.
I remember my Mom had a pattern stating who it was she thought gave her something like a cold. Like a sleuth, she’d start calling friends and co-workers to see if they were sick, too. I always thought this was so funny. I was fascinated because I couldn’t figure out why it mattered. It certainly wasn’t going to make her cold less severe. So funny.
With Suicide, people looking for answers to “why” tend to need to satisfy that question by blaming – not the one who took their life – but other people. I even did this when Brian took his life. I knew he was working with a pain management specialist at the time, and my first reaction was to blame the doctor for not helping him enough. Or for maybe not seeing the signs that he was so desperate. It’s not uncommon for extended family members to blame the surviving spouse.
But it’s all because we’re just trying to make sense of things. We need answers and we blame.
Another reason we blame others is because we don’t want to take responsibility for our own actions.
This happened as early as the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate fruit from the one forbidden tree in the garden. When God called them out on their disobedience, Adam blames his wife, Eve. He said, “The woman YOU gave me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” I kind of sounds like Adam is also trying to blame God, right? “The woman You gave me”? Then, when God asked Eve about it, she said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So it was the serpent’s fault that she ate. You can find this story in Genesis 3, verses 1 through 19.
And sadly, there were many others in the Bible that did the same – played the blame game – including Adam and Eve’s son Cain, Moses, Abraham’s wife Sarah, the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. It’s an attempt to shift responsibility to someone or something else. Blame is a product of our sin nature rooted in pride. It comes with a lack of humility and willingness to be wrong. It comes with a greater concern of what others think about us than the ability to admit we’re not perfect.
Or if we DO know we’re not perfect, and those imperfections show up in our life – in our workplace, or our relationships, or our actions or words – we’re quick to blame our mothers. It’s always our mother’s fault, right? Or we’ll blame the environment we grew up in, the way we were raised, our poverty, the city we grew up in, our heritage (I act like this because I’m just a hot Italian). But even if our Mommas did or didn’t do something in our childhood that messed us up – whatever that might look like for you – at some point we each must take responsibility for our own behavior. As an adult, you can no longer blame your Momma – or anything else - for your bad behavior. In Life Coaching, we call that living in Emotional Childhood, which is a state where we react to our emotions, act out, or avoid emotions rather than taking full responsibility for them. Here, we usually blame other people for the way we feel. Like saying, “you hurt my feelings”. Or you may have heard someone tell you they wouldn’t have yelled at you if you hadn’t made them so mad. But, we are responsible for how we feel in every moment. We are in charge of how we think, and we are in charge of how we feel. When we are functioning as emotional children, we are blaming other people for how we feel, how we act, and for the results we get in our life. And so we must take full responsibility.
Here's another reason we need to quit blaming people or our circumstances in our formative years. Beginning at birth, our brains process information about our experiences all the time, all day long, and create perceptionsor stories; again, because our brain is always trying to make sense of our world and the things we experience. The problem is sometimes those stories our brains make up are not true at all. But it creates a particular perception or filter through which we see and understand the rest of our lived experiences for the rest of our lives. Until we recognize or get new understanding that what we believed or the story that our brains made up was not true.
We know this can happen because you’ve probably heard of a set of siblings that were raised in the same household with the same parents with the same experiences, yet one says they had a very normal and enjoyable childhood, and the other says their childhood was filled with dysfunction and hardship. Same experiences, different stories. Why? Because while their brains function the same way – creating stories to make sense of their world – their brains are wired individually. The beautiful thing about this is, according to Neuroplasticity, our brains can be wired and re-wired up until our last breath. We don’t have to live in lie-based perceptions anymore. All stories can be reframed.
Hey, this is a good time to encourage you to go listen to episode number 106 – How to…Frame, Reframe, and Deframe Your Stories. While you’re over there, you might also want to listen to episode number 123 – Re-Write The Code that talks about how to rewire your brain. Actually, there’s probably not one episode I’ve recorded that doesn’t touch on this to some degree or another. It’s that important. Let me take a quick second here to remind you that I’ve just created a Podcast Road Map that has grouped together episodes of like topic. So if you were looking for something that focused on anger or faith, or fear, I’ve grouped those together so you could easily identify them and go straight to those for that specific content. There’s a link in the show notes to get that for free.
So, what should you do if you suspect or you KNOW you’re playing the blame game? Before you do anything, know that God promises that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s First John 1, verse 9.
So the first thing we must do is to humble ourselves before God and confess our sin of pride. Prideful hearts don’t want to humble themselves. They don’t want to be wrong. They don’t want to look bad. They’re too concerned with their image to make things right. They don’t want to take responsibility.
As a Christ follower, of course, this is not who we want or strive to be. When we recognize we are in sin, we are directed to confess and repent.
The Bible also instructs us to make amends if we have wronged someone.
So, the second thing we should recognize what it is exactly that we need to take responsibility for. Since I told you a funny story about my mom, I’ll tell you something else I learned from her. My mom was an exceptional seamstress. My junior and senior years of high school, I would draw the dress I wanted to wear for homecoming and prom and she would make it. She would buy several different patterns and modify them until it looked like what I wanted. She spared no expense on some of the most beautiful fabrics. It was a blessing! But I learned something very valuable from her sewing process. She’d say to me, “The good dressmaker takes out stiches.” What she was saying was that to be a good dressmaker, when you made a mistake, and everyone does, you go back and undo the last few stiches that were made in error or not done well. Same with the good follower of Christ.
Where do you need to make amends? Is there something you actually did that you blamed someone else for to save face or avoid shame? Did you do something to contribute to a problem or conflict in any way? Is there something you could’ve done differently? Is there some way you could’ve responded differently? In a more godly way? When you have humbled yourself before God in confession, He is surely to show you what you need to see in order to take responsibility and make amends.
The Blame Game is altogether negative and unproductive. It leads to bitterness, resentment, and fracture relationships. Blaming others can also suck you into a vortex of negative behavior and attitudes where you become trapped in victim mentality. And when you feel like a victim, you feel powerless and unable to change your life.
So, perhaps you need to ask God to shine the light on those stories you’re believing that are not true that are directing you to blame someone or something for your current life or behavior. Then, take responsibility for your own healing. Fight to know and believe truth. Look for new understandings and new perspectives that are rooted in truth. And be determined to walk in them. Change your mind. Re-wire your brain. You can do it!
Friend, start living in the fullness of life Jesus intends for you to live. Start today! Not as a victim, not in conflict with others, not in emotional childhood, but in love and forgiveness and personal responsibility. By taking responsibility for your own actions and behaviors, and seeking forgiveness when necessary, you can break free from this destructive cycle and grow emotionally, as well as in your faith, and really love the life you’re living. Now, that’s what I’d call a win!
Hey, don’t let The Blame Game make you lose an opportunity to enjoy life to the full any longer. Let me be your Life Coach and help you work through any of those old stories that your brain is using to keep you living in lie-based assumptions. If you need spiritual direction to help you take ownership and responsibility for your own actions, I’d love to help you here, too. Let’s have a chat and see if we’re a good fit to work together. There’s a link in the show notes to book a free 30-minute call at your convenience.
Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode to help you work through The Blame Game on your own. The link is in the show notes, also.
Okay, have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.