If you were to ask me what is the biggest barrier to people fulfilling their potential, I would answer without a doubt:
Blame is the number one excuse in the world. It will keep you small and inconsequential without any of the guilt. It’s someone else’s fault in the end.
Blame is seductive
Here are some of the key payoffs of blame:
- You feel ethically superior to the other party. Blaming others is often a defence mechanism to protect one’s self-esteem.
- You avoid responsibility. Facing our shortcomings can be painful, and blame is the go-to way to prevent this pain. With blame, you do not have to face your mistakes or the opportunity for learning and growth.
- You release stored anger. Finding someone to blame can be an opportunity to release stored anger from the past. You will notice that angry people always find opportunities to be angry. Everybody slights them. Their neighbours, colleagues, friends and more.
- You get an illusion of control. When you blame, you somehow think you are doing something to instigate change. You might hope you turn peers against a scapegoat, feel you will bond with a peer group against a common enemy, or get more attention as the poor victim. Unfortunately, what you resist persists. Blame ensures you stay stuck in an unpleasant situation.
Blame comes at a great cost
Blame has great payoffs. It only comes at the cost of your freedom, happiness and success. No biggie, right?
Blame is the key blocker to fulfilling one’s potential.
I used to be constantly in blame.
I spent months at university complaining about a friend who was jealous and competitive.
I spent months (who am I kidding, years) of my work life complaining about leaders who were unfair or not competent enough for my liking.
While blame felt seductive, it kept me miserable and frustrated. I was a drain to my friends and family as I endlessly complained.
I did not realize that blame was putting me in victim mode and wasting all my energy away.
It was not hurting the people I blamed. It was hurting me.
I had to transcend blame to create the friendships and the career I wanted.
When I stopped wasting my energy resisting what I did not want, I could channel it into creating the life I dreamed of.
“70% of the world is stuck on a victim mentality.” I heard Vishen, the founder of Mindvalley, say. And it sounded about right.
But even if you are not stuck in a victim mentality, most of the time, blame has sneaky ways of holding you back.
Sneaky ways blame holds you back.
I found two sneaky ways blame gets in your way. Keeping your heart closed and daily anger bursts.
1. Keeping your heart closed
A big realisation I had was that what attracts people and opportunities to you more than anything else is your heart.
For your heart to act as a magnet of everything you ever wanted, it has to be open.
That usually shows up as you being light-hearted, passionate, present and loving.
We close our hearts to protect ourselves. The best way we can open our hearts back again is by forgiving and cutting the energetic cord with the people who once hurt us.
This does not mean condoning their actions or even reconciling with them. It means letting go of the resentment and the blame so that we are free and our hearts open.
The research on the benefits of forgiveness is astonishing. Just on the physical side, it lowers blood pressure, boosts immune function, reduces the risk of chronic diseases, improves sleep, athletic performance and more.
Let alone the emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits.
Nelson Mandela, after years of imprisonment, said:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
We need to dig deep to address and let go of the blame that contracts our hearts.
It is usually behind our daily conscious awareness.
What is the blame we are still holding? Are there any people that when we hear their name, we close up?
It can be for things that happened years ago.
Can we forgive and let go?
2. Daily anger bursts
The other sneaky way blame appears is in our day-to-day relationships.
Getting annoyed with your spouse. Being triggered by your parents or kids. Feeling frustrated by your team.
Most people do not recognise this as blame, as it is a momentary anger rise that subsides as quickly as it appears.
The erosion it does on our relationships is mostly invisible to us.
We know that those anger bursts compromise our energetic frequency, but we rarely work on addressing them. We think they are justified. If other people were not so annoying!
Whenever something causes an intense emotion in you, it shows where you are still not free.
What are the daily triggers that cause you to have a disproportionate reaction?
It is time to stop hiding behind the blame game about all those people who are getting it wrong every day. Enquire: why are you making it such a big deal?
Nobody can make us feel anything. Our thinking and our inner chemistry cause our emotions.
If you are full of anger and blame, ask whether this is the energetic frequency you want to operate from.
If not, you need to do the inner work to let go of those triggers.
How to transcend blame
We need to realize that we choose to blame. It is our choice.
There are people who have been through the same and worse than us that chose not to blame.
Victor Frankl forgave his prison guards at the concentration camp.
I went through a forgiveness exercise recently during a guided meditation.
What came up for me was that all the blame I was subconsciously holding on to was hiding my mistakes and my share of responsibility for what happened.
The blame was protecting my ego.
I also felt intense compassion for the people I was blaming. I was transported in their shoes and saw why they did what they did.
Letting go of blame requires several steps:
- Become aware of the blame that you still carry. Often it is quite hidden. You might not be thinking of the person who hurt you daily, but if they pop up on your feed or someone mentions them, you feel yourself contracting. That is a sign that you still carry blame and could benefit from forgiveness work.
- Recognise and accept emotions, whether anger, hurt, sadness, or resentment. It’s okay to feel the way you do.
- Acknowledge your personal responsibility for what happened. Also, recognise the payoffs that blame is providing you with.
- Practice empathy to understand the other person’s perspective. They may be acting out of their own pain, insecurities, or challenges.
- Release control: Understand that you can’t change the past or other people who do not want to change. Accepting this fact can help in moving forward.
- Forgive and let go. For your sake.
As we let go of the blame and the bitterness, our hearts finally open.
And we start magnetizing everything we ever wanted.
The seduction of blame is powerful, rooted in our desire to protect our ego.
While it offers temporary relief, its costs are profound, limiting our personal growth and blocking our potential.
What blame are you still carrying?
Are you willing to let it go?
Your happiness and success will be defined by your answer.
PS: If you would like to work with me, why not book a 1:1 coaching retreat in Potrero, Costa Rica, from September onwards? Let’s clarify what you want and build a strategy to achieve it.
If you would like to find out another sneaky way our ego holds us back, watch my TEDx talk: Do your goals prevent your success?