Your coworker always seems to get into horrible, bristly moods. You wonder what you did wrong that set her off.
Your friend wants to go to the movies to watch a film she’s been meaning to check out. After reading the movie’s reviews, you agree to accompany her. How come you’re the one apologizing and offering to pay for her ticket when she ends up hating the show?
Your boss leaves you a stack of work with incomplete and confusing instructions. Although you work ten hours to provide what you think she wants, what you produce falls short. When she returns, you accept the blame for wasting her time. Later, you wonder how it was your fault; her instructions were unclear.
Your friend parks in the wrong space when she meets you for a drink after work. When her car is towed, she says it’s your fault because she didn’t want to keep you waiting – not mentioning that she could have left earlier to be on time.
It’s time you stop taking the blame for others’ mistakes. Try these three strategies and walk yourself out of the blame tunnel.
Realize there’s a fundamental difference between taking responsibility and taking the blame
When you accept blame, you step into a swamp of guilt. When you take responsibility, you “own” the situation and work to fix it. One disempowers while the other empowers and leads to action.
Say it once and be done
You can bog yourself down with blame, guilt, remorse and the past. Yes, you made a critical mistake or chose the wrong relationship or job. You should have thought about or done it differently and better. However, “shoulding” yourself in this way doesn’t help you and won’t solve anything.
Even worse, the fear of blame can keep you from leaving your comfort zone to start off in a new direction or to take on a challenging new project. What if you let yourself say once, I really messed up, decide to move off the blame pot and take positive action?
Look for the silver lining
Do you believe the mistakes you’ve made say something about you? Do you leave no (blame) stone unturned? You can blame yourself for trusting the wrong man or choosing the wrong job, but their flaws didn’t reveal themselves in the beginning. If they did, you would have made another choice.
Or you can decide that every mistake you made has taught you something; “problems” become “things you had to go through to get to a better place.” What’s important is what you’ll do now.