A culture of blame

The Dalai Lama of Tibet is quoted as saying “When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realise that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy”.

Being able to accept responsibility and acknowledge our mistakes actually empowers us and allows us to take control of our lives. By not trying to apportion blame on others we can look for ways to put right any problems that have been caused by our oversights. If it is someone else’s mistake then finding a respectful and congruent way to call their attention to it will facilitate a more trusting relationship. Research shows that being able to make an apology in relationships makes them much more likely to deepen and flourish.

We seem to have become a blaming culture. ‘Had an accident that wasn’t your fault’? How many times have we seen this type of advert on television or read one in the newspaper? Their buzz word ‘compensation’ can have the effect of luring people in with the hope of getting a big pay out for an accident/mistake that could actually have been their own fault. Of course there are many valid cases but I can’t help wondering how many people are encouraged to claim without just cause.

Some of the biggest ‘mistakes’ in history have been of enormous benefit to humanity. The scientist Sir Alexander Fleming was experimenting to find a wonder drug that would cure diseases. After discarding a contaminated Petri dish he noticed that it contained a mould that was dissolving all the bacteria around it. Through this mistake he learned that it contained a powerful antibiotic, penicillin!

Accepting responsibility does not equate with punishing ourselves unduly. Making mistakes is not only part of being human but is one of the best ways to learn about life; understanding where you might have gone wrong is how you progress and develop. It also enables you cultivate a more empathic way of being when encountering the misdemeanours of yourself and others.