Blame vs. Personal Responsibility

 “The search for someone to blame is always successful.” – Robert Half

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”  –Dr. Robert Anthony

“Yes, there are times when something is legitimately not our fault. Blaming others, however, keeps us in a stuck state and is ultimately rough on our own self-esteem.”   Eric Allenbach


1. to hold responsible; find fault with; censure:

2. to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) (usually followed by on ): I blame the accident on her.

As exemplified from the definition and the quotes above, blame is the act of holding someone else or something else responsible. Every time we blame, we avoid personal responsibility. When we blame a circumstance or other people for our failings or our current state of dissatisfaction, we hinder out ability to move forward. It is very difficult to learn from the results of our thoughts, feelings, actions and beliefs if we continually blame “God”, “Nature”, or “Them” for our current reality.

Robert Half was correct when he said, “the search for someone to blame is always successful”. It is easy to blame others. When we do we no longer feel the possible emotional discomfort associated with  owning our mistakes. If our boss is angry about the result of a current project, it feels safer to blame a co-worker. In the workplace, blame can be harmful since it can facilitate a cycle of blame – defensiveness- attack –blame cycle.

Just think how easily blame can creep into our own lives. If we are late for work, it is customary to blame the traffic or other life circumstances. How many times have you been at work when a co-worker arrived and stated; “I apologize for being late. I did not adequately plan my time so I am responsible for my tardiness. Could you please write me up so I am discouraged from continuing my pattern of poor time management?”

When we blame, we have a negative influence on others. If we model the pattern of blaming at home, our children will imitate our pattern of avoiding accountability. When we blame our spouse/partner for our own emotional responses, our spouse/partner will likely feel resentful.

Blame is a habit that we are in control of. Once we become aware of our tendencies to blame, we can move away from blame and move towards personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility arises from acknowledgement that we are in control of our beliefs, habits, thoughts, feelings, responses, words and actions. When we accept personal responsibility, we understand that we are responsible for our general life circumstances. If we are dissatisfied with how things are, personal responsibility will lead us to changing our situation whereas blame will allow us to be complacent and stick with the status quo of dissatisfaction.

I accept full responsibility for this post!


8 Comments to “Blame vs. Personal Responsibility”

  1. While blame is sometimes legitimate, I’ve found in most cases, people can not do to you what you don’t allow to have done. So often when people blame others for their circumstances, they should be looking in the mirror instead.

  2. it is easy to blame someone else and very hard to look at why we put ourselves into the position to give that person control in our life. personally, i dont think there is ever anyone else to blame but ourselves because we are the one that makes the choices in our life that brings in the people that brings in the issues and potential conflict.

  3. Great post! there are so many people out there who blames others to avoid their own problems.

    PS: i accept full responsibility for my comment hehe 🙂

  4. I really hear what you are saying here. It is true, we do need to take personal responsibility for our actions… However, for a long time, up until recently, I was the one who would say things like this (and I know many others who do this). ““I apologize for being late. I did not adequately plan my time so I am responsible for my tardiness. Could you please write me up so I am discouraged from continuing my pattern of poor time management?” In my own personal experience, what this behavior did (and I’m not saying I was late often or anything) was invite others to scapegoat me and place their blame on me…. Now, I am not saying it’s not good to say, “Hey, I was late. Sorry. It won’t happen again.” But going into too much explanation is pointless and I think violates personal boundaries. We are all human, we all make mistakes… but there comes a point where I’ve learned to just own it and move on. Also, it is dangerous to only blame oneself, one of my BIGGEST lessons in personal responsibility is understanding the importance of delegating, or understanding that it does not just take one person to mess up a situation. I used to blame myself soley for things that go wrong in my life or things I’m not happy with about my past… and now I see that though it is not my place to blame anyone else for my crap and I definitely have no desire to push my issues on others, it is also just as important to understand that the whole world does not rest on my shoulders. Others make mistakes too and though I am not going to point out who did what and place judgement on anyone (and maintain responsibility for my own stuff), it is important to gently remember that sometimes others make mistakes too. I find holding so much blame for oneself is toxic, leads to sickness and shame and is a HUGE self-esteem killing personal sabotage.

    • Thank you for your comments. You do make a crucial point that we do not serve ourselves when we blame ourselves. I believe a key part of personal responsibility is acknowledging our mistakes, learn form our mistakes, forgiving ourselves and then moving forward.

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