In-Sourcing Blog

Create opportunities, not excuses or reasons to blame

The dog ate my homework. The train was late. The teacher had it in for me. My boss is a jerk.

We’re human. We goof up all the time. Egg on our face is inevitable. But trying to explain away our mishaps and faulty decisions with excuses and pointing fingers of blame is not in our best interest. Whether it’s a botched decision at work or a personal calamity, in the long run, when things go wrong in our lives, we have two ways of looking at the situation: we can either look around to find some excuse or unsuspecting target or we can be honest with ourselves to determine if it was our part in the event that was the reason for the downfall.

What’s the benefit of choosing the former? We relinquish responsibility and get to identify as innocent, out of reach of any consequence that may follow. And perhaps in the short run, escaping the focus provides a place to hide. But in doing so there is a downside, we allow ourselves to become victims, and take on a kind of “woe is me” mentality that denies a personal responsibility for one’s own life or circumstances, looking for pity and sympathy from others, feeling that they are more fortunate and deserving.

When we are honest with our role in the failures and disappointments that are part of life’s journey, when we stop blaming others or bemoaning unforeseen circumstances, our sense of personal power is regained and reinforced. You have a choice: stay stuck in your loss of agency, ‘a victim of circumstances,’ or take responsibility for creating the script for what happens next, using the flops and face plants as teaching moments, insights to how to redefine a path forward that you would not have followed.

Taking accountability can be discomforting. The ego often is bruised. And a good excuse or projecting blame on others can offer us protection from embarrassment. Our human frailties prompt us to make excuses and to blame others – the reasons we offer for screwing up – when typically the real reason is we fear that we are not good enough or fear we’ll disappoint someone.

It takes some doing, but life is a great deal more fun and much easier to manage when you stop making excuses and blaming others. The events we classify as failures are occasions to heal and grow and create opportunities that would not otherwise have been envisioned.

With Love and Light,
Arlene Englander, LCSW