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    Why Nobody Wins the Blame Game

    Blame stops growth and traps you from going further.

    Blame doesn’t want to move forward; it wants to dwell on the anger and pain.

    You may blame yourself for decisions and actions you’ve made that contributed to a state of depression. You may be so hard on yourself for past mistakes that your depression sometimes feels like relief, you are finally getting what you deserve. Self-blame produces guilt and shame, and these may seem like fair compensation for what you’ve done wrong in your life.

    You may blame others for the way their decisions or actions have hurt you and contributed to your depression. You may blame others for simply not doing enough to help you or for being too wrapped up in their own problems to know you were hurting. Circumstances, instead of people, can also be a focus of your blame. You feel the odds are against you or the breaks don’t fall your way:

    “The cards are stacked against you,” or “Life just isn’t on your side.”

    These are all rationales used to blame impersonal situations for personal problems.

    It can appear that forgiving people who have hurt you leaves you open to more pain. Forgiving is an action of control. By forgiving that person, you acknowledge their hurtful action and put them on notice that you are now in control of the relationship. With that control, it is up to you to decide the parameters you feel safe operating within. You can forgive that person of something in the past without granting them permission to hurt you in the future.

    Forgiving others has another helpful benefit — as you learn to forigve others, it becomes easier to forgive yourself. But how do you know if you’ve actually achieved forgiveness? You can think you have forgiven someone, only to realize you still feel the pain of their offense when you are with them. You haven’t enjoyed the freedom of true forgivness if the anger, hurt, and resentment are still there.

    Seek to accomplish the following five goals as you work toward forgiveness:

    1) I will not get even or do harm.

    2) I have personal peace.

    3) I will not engage in self-destructive behaviors because of this person or event.

    4) I am able to put what has happened to me into the context of my present life.

    5) I am able to accept myself and others.

    On the road to recovery, blame is a dead end masquerading as a short-cut. Forgiveness, on the other hand, can appear to be a much longer, more difficult road to take. Forgiveness feels like a loss of personal control. But when you blame another person, or circumstances, you turn power over to that person or circumstance. Forgiveness returns power to you, because it puts you in charge. Forgiveness allows you to respond and not merely react.

    Blame is reactive, but forgiveness is responsive.

    SOURCE: Chapter 9, “Renewing Your Spiritual Connections,” in Moving Beyond Depression by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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