Pointing fingers – we all do it all the time. Do you find yourself constantly blaming others? We look at psychological reasons for blaming others and what can be done to change them.
We are ready with umpteen reasons for doing what we do – blame others. But isn’t it true that we blame others to reiterate our desire to see ourselves as innocent and blameless?
If we think more about our obsession with blaming others for every problem we face, we will be surprised to learn that this tendency has taken deep roots in our society.
Every problem faced by our city or country is blamed on the government, politicians, bureaucracy, or even judiciary. The laws of the land are focused on finding the person/s to blame. The media thrives on digging up problems and trying to pin them on someone or the other. Victim-blaming is the norm.
It is as if once we find the person to pin the problem on, our part is over. We can wash our hands off it.
When society inclines to blame and not to find solutions, we too tend to take this approach in our own lives.
When something goes wrong in our lives, don’t we contribute in any way? When we meet with an accident, was it entirely the other person’s fault? Without even pausing to consider this possibility, we proceed to point fingers.
When we blame the government, bureaucracy, or even the other driver, the act of blaming may not have as much psychological effect on ourselves as when we do it in our personal lives. If you are trying to find why you are blaming others for your mistakes, psychology offers you many answers.
Read on to know why do people blame others? You will also find here how this can affect us and how to get rid of this nasty habit.
8 psychological reasons for blaming others
The great poet Shakespeare has written – To err is human, to forgive divine. So, as humans, it is natural for us to make mistakes. But the confounding reality is our reluctance or denial to accept our own mistakes. In our eyes, we can do no wrong.
Why do we do this? What reasons do we give ourselves to make us do something illogical?
Here are some of the most common reasons why we blame others.
1. Blaming resolves the problem easily.
If you hold yourself accountable for the mistake, you may have to compensate, find remedies, and deal with the emotional trauma of having done something wrong. In one go, you can avoid all the hassles associated with the mistake by shifting the blame to others.
2. Blaming helps you retain the upper hand.
If the situation is either you or them, it makes sense to point fingers. As long as you are implied to have done something wrong, your ego and pride are dented. This implies that you are not in control. By blaming others for your problems, you are consolidating your position as well as weakening the other person’s. Ultimately you gain control.
3. Blaming is an action triggered by your pent-up emotions.
If you are the kind of person who holds yourself to unrealistically high standards, you are suppressing your natural feelings and emotions. Everyone gets angry, sad, upset, or loses their cool. When you deny yourself the luxury to show your real emotions, all the repressed emotions come out as blaming others. When you blame others, you will feel relieved to let out those stifled emotions.
4. Blaming feeds your ego.
When you blame another person, you feel superior to them. You are the good guy here and the other person is the bad guy. You feel compelled to do a social comparison and every time you want to come out as the winner. Putting the other person in a disadvantageous situation helps you achieve this.
However, some people blame others for portraying themselves as the victim. They want to point fingers at someone else to present themselves as the poor victim and the other person as the villain.
5. Blaming resolves the problem for them.
When something you are involved in goes wrong, you feel the urge to explain the reason. As blaming yourself doesn’t suit your purpose, you blame others.
6. Blaming is used to portray the other person in a bad light.
You may have a grudge against this person. So, when an opportunity arises, you use it to make them look bad. Often this is done unawares or unintentionally.
7. Blaming is done to protect your reputation.
Whether you are accused of the mistakes or not, you want to deflect the blame away from yourself. You want to maintain your good reputation. So, you shift the blame on another person.
8. Blaming others gives you the reason to be aggressive.
You may have a nice and friendly image and find it difficult to confront others. When something goes wrong, you use this as an excuse to turn aggressive. The act of blaming will help you shed your timidness and inhibitions.
How does blaming others affect you?
You may think by blaming others, it is over. The ball is out of your court and is on the other side. You may deceive yourself that this is the case. Unfortunately, by blaming, you are making matters more complicated. It is coming back to bite you.
Here are some of the common aftereffects of blaming others.
- You alienate yourself from others.
- You stunt your own growth as a person.
- You are actually presenting yourself as powerless.
- You are denting your ability to understand and empathize with others.
- Your relationships suffer as a consequence.
- You are denying yourself a chance to positively influence others.
How to avoid the tendency to blame others?
These simple strategies can help you get rid of this negative habit.
- Think before you blame.
- Take a deep breath.
- Learn to treat mistakes as a learning experience.
- Don’t allow your imagination to run wild and make mountains out of molehills.
- Take action to improve your self-worth.
- Stop the narrative. The more often you repeat, the nastier it gets.
- Get help from a mental health professional.
- In case you inadvertently end up blaming people, don’t hesitate to apologize.
What should you do when a friend blames you for their problem?
Friendship is a relationship that has its upsides as well as downsides. You make friends and maintain friendships for the value it adds to your life. However, sometimes your well-intentioned actions can have unfavorable outcomes. This can result in your friend blaming you.
When your friend turns against you and blames you for causing them trouble, you may feel misunderstood and betrayed. Can you do anything in this situation?
Of course, you can. Here are some suggestions.
- Revisit the problem and examine your role in it. If you are even partially responsible, offer your apology.
- In case you are completely innocent, talk to the friend.
- Don’t take on the blame to make things easier for your friend.
- Learn to respect and maintain healthy boundaries.
- Try not to take it personally. Your friend is hurt and they are lashing out at the nearest person.
- Your friend may be troubled by other issues and they may have misunderstood the situation.
- Reconsider your friendship to see whether it is worth it. Walk away if need be.
- Get help from a person you trust to help you see it clearly and come up with the right approach.
In most of us, the tendency to blame others is developed in childhood by observing the people around us. As you started making it part of your behavior, you saw the immense advantage it offers you. This cemented its place in your mind.
Once you realize the foolishness and negativity involved in blaming others for your mistakes, you may want to stop it but find yourself in a helpless position. With the correct strategic approach, you can get rid of this dirty habit. All you need is willpower and a desire to do the right thing.