Taking Responsibility for Disappointment
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 2016 (edited March 28, 2022)
We soothe guilt by blaming others, providing immediate relief and long term damage.
We willingly surrender freedom, delivering our futures to unseen forces. We blindly participate in our own misery. We grimace and roll our eyes, crudely accusing others, pointing our finger for any disappointments. Our expressions scream innocent victimhood while self-righteously condemning others of evilness. Many of us—all of us some of the time, some of us all of the time—thoughtlessly claim entitlement to an undisturbed life. When life opposes, we react, exploding inside, seeking cause for the horribleness that unfairly befell us.
We all judge. We gather information, assess intentions, recall the past, and make a judgment. This occasionally includes identifying hurtful acts of others. Wisdom from learning protects us from repeated violations of disloyalty and injury. Judgments serve a purpose. But judgments flawed and infused with bias self-serve.
We don’t exist independently. Our story—where we are the main character—is commingling with the billions of other stories that simultaneously exist, playing out concurrent dramas. Others also have self-serving biases expressed in their judgments. On the stage of collective existence, conflict and cooperation play out.
Blaming is assigning responsibility to a single cause or person for an event or misfortune. Blaming typically ignores the complex and vast contributing factors leading to the event.
Avoiding Responsibility by Blaming Others
Disappointments are an inherent part of life. Many pieces of experience combine culminating in the moment. Certainly, other contribute. However, focusing blame on others significantly limits our ability to gain wisdom from the heart-wrenching disappointments. We subject ourselves to repeats. Taking responsibility for our role has great power. Understanding how we played into the final outcome, enlightens paths for change.
"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny." ~Albert Ellis
Selfish Expectations and Blame
If our needs define life, we neglect the complexity that includes others. We narrow our vision and unfairly condemn intruders that fail to yield to our self-serving purposes. We blame them for interruption of dreams. We blame them for failures. Yet, the blaming is unwarranted. We expect others to act as unimportant pawns in our game of life.
The psychological benefit of placing blame on a single cause or person is that it protects from the personal discomfort of considering our contributing role in an event, or the sense of helplessness from living in an unpredictable, complex world.
Realistic Expectations and Personal Enlightenment
When open to reality, through connection with others and awareness of differing goals, our knowledge lessens the emotional upheavals from the misguided entitlements of a singular existence. A wider perspective—which includes visions of others’ needs and goals—enhances our experience, transforming selfish emotional reactions to constructive approaches; which may invite closer examination of our selves for contributing causes.
"Blame is just a lazy person's way of making sense of chaos."
When we realistically exam disappointments, the honest openness ushers enlightening insights, growing wisdom and improving futures. The honest examination of self involvement in disappointments develops wisdom to escape future injuries while promoting the growth of character. We don’t master this process. Pain still hurts; disappointments still sting. We just get better at working through them. Wisdom enlarges self-understanding. We learn our limits, cautiously approaching the edges, seeking assistance where needed before floods of emotions overwhelm and destroy.
"A wider perspective—which includes visions of others’ needs and goals—enhances our experience, transforming selfish emotional reactions to more constructive approaches."
Books on the Psychology of Blaming
Setting the ego aside, we accept vulnerabilities of imperfection and individual needs for connectedness. We acknowledge the presence of blemishes both on our selves and others. When difficulties appear, instead of wasting precious energy blaming, we seek constructive answers. But we approach these assessments cautiously, recognizing the perniciousness of judgmental emotions that protect the ego, and divert blame to something more easily digested.
By ignoring personal connectedness to the happenings in our life, we lose power to change; for a mere morsel of relief, we invite continued failings. Happenings occur from complex inputs; others often share in the blame. They may unintentionally—or intentionally—disrupt our plans. When this happens, we must dig a deeper, seeking how we became entangled with the disruptive forces. The answers may stun our senses but knowledge also releases the demons damning our futures.
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