The Blame Game

So, I had an epiphany today.

Last week was the start of another semester of my Organizational Behavior course at a local Business School. And of course, I didn't start to really prepare for the course until a few days before it began because...well, I have taught it before and I'm used to the sequence of the material. But last week I decided to change it up a bit. Yes, I am still covering the material I'm supposed to, but the sequence is changed a bit. Now, of course, my students don't know this but I do and it keeps it fun for me :)

And so, today, I showed Brene Brown's TED talk on Vulnerability In previous semesters, I had waited to share this video - waited to get to know the students a bit better; waited until we covered more material; just waited. It is one of my favorite TED talks and even though it was recorded in 2010 it is still relevant today. Actually, given the current climate in America - maybe even more so.

After the video, we had a really great discussion because the premise of her talk was perceptions - how we perceive ourselves, actually. I shared the video because I wanted to students to hear from someone other than me that we are all more alike than we realize or may want to realize. There are varying degrees, of course, but at our human core, we crave connection. And vulnerability is an amazing vehicle to gain that connection. Easy, no. Painless, definitely not. But vulnerability is necessary if we are going to share ourselves and connect with others.

My epiphany - blame. What it is, where it comes from. All because one of my students caught onto her definition of Blame. Brene says that:


NOTE: Here is a great short video where Brene is talking about Blame specifically

The student who caught onto the blame definition said:

"I have been on the giving and receiving end of blame. And I have seen and read a lot of blame over the past few months, too. What if we had less blame? What would that look and feel like?"

Wow...what a great question. And not just for today, given our political climate and our divided country. Not just because people in power - notice I didn't say politicians - act like toddlers and call each other names. Not just because my boys keep asking 'what craziness happened last night?' and not just because I am concerned about what type of country my children will have in 4 or 8 years...

No, it's not just all of that but it's how I function as a human being and how people function around me.

And I came to realize that while I have shared with my kids and clients and myself that blaming is "wasted energy," that we need to take responsibility for our actions and decisions it's more than that. It's talking about accountability and what I am doing and will do. What others are doing and will do. And our expectations of ourselves and one another.

If you are blaming, there is no accountability. You are too busy discharging your discomfort and pain on others and not looking at yourself or those around you. You may feel a short-term feeling of release but that's all it is...a short-term release. With no accountability, there is no one there to ask "why?" or "how did that happen?" There is no reflection so there is no awareness, no recognition of what happened to learn from and so it happens again..and again...and again. There can be a level of almost addiction to the cycle - build up, up, release...and so it goes.

If you are blaming, you don't see the full picture. You are reacting and looking for control. And almost never finding it.

But what if you don't react. What if you sit with the discomfort and pain.

Maybe sometimes we just have to sit with that discomfort and pain.

Maybe sometimes we have to ask ourselves "where is all of this discomfort and pain coming from?"

Maybe we have to, as Jessica Williams shared with me today, let it RAIN [Recognize, Accept, Investigate and Nourish], which comes from a Buddhist teacher who teaches Radical Acceptance.

See what's going on, accept that it's happening, investigate why it happened and/or where it came from and then nourish your body, your mind and your soul. The more you can give yourself pause, the more it RAINS!

Or if all of that sounds like too much, maybe just start with stopping the blame game.

Start with taking a breath.

Start with not pointing a finger at anyone.

Start with YOU.