- Dora Nudelman
Unjustifiably Receiving the Blame
Not everyone wants to take responsibility for their actions and so it is likely inevitable that from time-to-time each of us has or will find ourselves on the receiving end of unjustified blame. Now, there are several ways we can respond, but the key is to find the most enlightened way.
It is highly unfair to be the scapegoat for situations for which others do not want to take responsibility, but sometimes it does happen. You see, it is so much easier for people to point the finger at others than to take ownership of their actions and subsequent consequences. We too must consider the role we play in the situations we attract with other people, but we also need to know when to reject full blame when it is not ours to take on alone. Now rejecting blame does not mean getting defensive or trying to justify our innocence. And it doesn’t mean feeling guilty without real reason either. It just means being understanding of others when they refuse to be accountable for their own behavior and realizing that this is more their issue than it is ours.
No one likes to be blamed for anything, whether it is justified blame or not. But especially when it is not our fault it can be hard to keep our cool and not defend ourselves against false accusations. Now while I am not telling you to repress your emotions, I am asking you to realize that as long as you know the truth for yourself it doesn’t really matter what other people think of you. Their anger, their disappointment, and their resentment is a projection and not to be taken too personally.
The best thing to do I believe is to wait it out until the pot cools, and then try to have a conversation with that person later to try to come to some sort of peaceful agreement. A conversation like this can start with, “I would like to figure out what part I might have played in this situation between us. Can we talk about it so that I can understand where you are coming from better?” This is a very non-judgmental and non-aggressive way to start a conversation. You are not absolutely accepting blame but you are showing a willingness to listen and take responsibility for your part, if there is one. This will also open the door for the other party to do the same or, at the very least, to explain why they are so upset. Do not have specific expectations of how they will respond, but do be open to what comes and take it from there.
The best way to resolve conflict is not through anger but rather through a desire to understand each other. Everyone sees things in their own way and the only way we will come to any resolution is by being willing to listen, accept, and be compassionate with one another. Anger only begets more anger, and then resentment ensues and nothing gets resolved as a result. If you get defensive or angry at first know that this is just your ego's desire to protect itself. Try to get centered and then go approach the situation from a spiritually mature place that allows for more open dialogue, than empty words (some of which you may later regret saying).
However, if you are the one who is doing the blaming, try to distinguish between where you are projecting versus the truth. Where are you reluctant to take responsibility for your actions and choices? Why are you reluctant to do so? What would it mean to you if you took ownership of your behavior? Sometimes we feel guilty or regretful for our actions and would rather lay the blame elsewhere so that we don't have to feel badly about ourselves, but the truth is the truth and we cannot escape it for long.
The blame game never really works. No one ever falls in love by being blamed for other people's mistakes. Honesty, integrity, and compassionate listening, these are more likely the key ingredients to successful human relationships.