Friday, May 25, 2012

Hazards of the Blame Game

This is kind of an extension of my prior post on accepting responsibility. Blaming others is probably built into our genetic code. Little kids certainly pick up the skill quickly. They don't even have to be talking yet—they can just point at their sibling.

I teach teenagers, so I see it plenty. A student's grade is slipping, they're not doing what they're supposed to in class, and there are a thousand reasons for it. None of them acknowledging that maybe they bear some responsibility and control for their own academic fate.

Actually, since I've taught a lot of the same kids over several years, I've been able to see them grow and mature. I've seen them go through this transition to understanding, "Yeah, there are some factors I can't control, but my own decisions have the biggest impact on my life." It's very cool to see that change.

Not everyone gets there, though, even in adulthood.

A number of people I know are currently pregnant. I admit, #blamethefetus tweets are frequently amusing, so I'm not saying any hint of "blaming" someone/something is going to make my head explode. Even less humorous blaming can be okay once in a while. Sometimes you need to blow off steam. Sometimes something really is someone else's fault.

The not one but TWO traffic jams I had to get through on Wednesday after school, for instance. Definitely someone else's fault, definitely preventable, and definitely annoyed me. A lot.

But ... when we're looking at something that's not going right, trying to figure out why, and we look at everyone except ourselves, we have a problem. If we're the ones to blame (even partially), we'll be blind to it, and we'll likely miss opportunities to FIX IT.

I mean, hey, who doesn't want their life to go better?

Not getting the promotion we want at work? Maybe there's discrimination or favoritism going on. Or maybe we aren't working as hard or as well as some others.

Not getting requests with our queries, or not getting anywhere with submissions? Maybe trends in the market aren't lining up. Or maybe we can improve the story and writing in some way.

Do you catch yourself blaming others when you shouldn't? Has it gotten you in trouble? Do particular iterations of the Blame Game annoy you more than others?


E.B. Black said...

Funny enough, I got a bunch of rejections for my manuscript and decided in the end that they were right and my writing was poor. I worked very hard writing and re-writing it, but I'm still learning and think that I agree with their decision to pass on my story, which is why I will not be self-publishing that one.

I've told my friends and strangely they don't understand. They think that if I've finished a novel it must be good enough and it must be the agents faults for being so "stupid" to pass me up. I appreciate greatly their support, but honestly, don't agree with their assessment.

R.C. Lewis said...

Interesting other side of the coin, EB. Sometimes we try to take responsibility, and our own friends try to talk us out of it. They mean well, but I guess sometimes it's hard for them to see the difference between being honest with ourselves and being down on ourselves.