Taking the Blame vs Taking Responsibility

Are you pretty hard on yourself? In my experience, when something goes awry, some tend towards blaming external circumstances and other people, while others almost always point the finger inwards. If you are one of the latter, you may have been taking the blame for long enough, and perhaps it’s time to take responsibility instead.

Here’s the difference, as I see it:

Let’s suppose there is a conflict, a misunderstanding, or some kind of big interpersonal mess. When we take the blame, we are saying, “Oh no, I’ve done something wrong. It’s all my fault. I messed up, of course I did.” That litany can go on and on, all with the purpose of self-flagellation. The result? Feeling crappy about yourself and stockpiling reasons why you’re not a good person. 

Now take this same conflict, and instead of taking the blame, take responsibility for your part (and your part only). This looks more like, “Oh wow. I missed the mark there, and I am going to look at this further so I can make amends, starting from where we are now.” When you take responsibility, you acknowledge where you made a mistake, and you don’t beat yourself up because you know you are human, we all make mistakes, and you want to do better next time. It’s the difference between using what happens in life to prove you’re unworthy and using what happens in life to learn and move forward. The only way to make that shift, in my experience, is to develop a true friendship with yourself. One where you look in the mirror and say, “Hey, I really like hanging out with you all the time. You understand me even when no one else does.” 

That’s also part of the difference between taking the blame and taking responsibility. It is very possible that you did something that hurt someone else, and you didn’t mean to hurt anyone at all. Both can be true—someone else is hurt AND your heart was in the right place. With clear communication and an eagle’s eye perspective, we can see where we went off course and take correction for next time. We can ask forgiveness and know we are worthy of it, even if we don’t receive it from anyone but ourselves. And if someone is angry at you for more than what you actually did, maybe you don’t have to take the blame, and you can still have compassion for what they’ve been through. 

As I’m getting to know the amazing women in the release and empower groups (only one spot left, but you have to register before Sunday!), the question on my heart is “What happens when nice girls find their strength?” I’m not at all an advocate of becoming cold or uncaring. Considering other people’s feelings is essential to the entire world’s well-being. But many of us will break out of our shells and have SO much more to offer when we care a little less about what other people think. When you love yourself, you can clean up the messes you make instead of collapsing in them. You can hold others accountable for their parts without blaming either one of you. You can be a true friend to yourself no matter what happens next.

I hope this message speaks to you in some way that is helpful. If it doesn’t, I hope you send it straight to the trash without a second glance. Maybe this message wasn’t meant for you; maybe someone else needed to hear it instead. You get to decide what you allow in. I honor your truth, and I sincerely thank you for honoring mine.

May your heart simply overflow with compassion for yourself, and for everyone else in this crazy human existence,


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