Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast

Episode 14 – Shame On The Blame Game

August 12, 2021 Coach Raoul Season 1 Episode 14
Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast
Episode 14 – Shame On The Blame Game
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast, we’ll blame it all on the rain, or we won’t. We’ll start off with definitions and quotations, then the main segment will be dedicated to taking responsibility and not blaming others, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care.  Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.

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Before I start today I want to thank all the listeners out there who are putting up with me, interacting with me, and listening to this podcast,. This was always meant to be just a fun time-wasting kind of thing, but I think it’s more than that now, and you’re all to thank, from across Canada, to my new friends in the U.S. and of course my favourite listener from France who listens every episode, a huge thank you. I still want to send you stickers, so DM your postal info to @LifeDisgruntled on twitter, or email Coach@DisgruntledLifeCoach.ca and I’ll send them – I will, my pleasure. Honestly. 

So who are we going to blame today? I mean, we all have problems, we all make mistakes, but how often do we point fingers. That’s a rhetorical question, we all know the answer is too fucking often. But don’t worry, we’re not going to point too many fingers today, and maybe we’ll give you some strategies to stop that ridiculous blame game. Let’s get started.

First, let's define what we're talking about. According to the Oxford English dictionary, Blame can be both a noun and a verb, David. As a noun, it is responsibility for a fault or wrong and as a verb it is to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong. But if we go a step further, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Blame Game as a situation in which different individuals or groups attempt to assign blame to each other for some problem or failure. We're not even going to go further because I can see you already tensing up. Relax, let's get to some quotations.

Firstly, we have Scott Adams, creator and artist of the well-known Dilbert cartoon. He is quoted as saying: “The job isn’t done until you’ve blamed someone for the parts that went wrong.” Of course, take that with a grain of salt from the hazy mind of a guy who thinks that Antifa was allied with Hitler and who supported Trump, all because Scotty liked Trump's "talent stack". I'm pretty sure there's another term for it, and I think it rhymes with batshit crazy buffoonery, maybe, or something. Still, the quotation is valid for this episode.

The next quotations has been attributed to both John Burroughs and John Wooden, and even though Burroughs lived long before Wooden, I'm going attribute to Wooden because he was the best, most honest and most successful basketball coach in NCAA history winning 10 national titles for the UCLA Bruins in 12 years through the 60s and 70s. The quote in question says: "A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else." So if you think you're getting away with something by placing blame, you may be a failure or, at the very least, a failure-in-training, but it's not too late. Or it is, I really don't know.

The final quotation comes from Stephen Schneider who was Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University, a Co-Director at the Center for Environment Science and Policy of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He also served as a consultant to federal agencies and White House staff in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush - Jr. and Sr., Clinton, and Obama administrations. He famously said "I wish I could blame my failure on my integrity and refusal to play bullshit games. But the truth is I just play them really badly." This last one should give you some insight into the fallibility of the blame game, and how truly great men take a little more than there share of the blame, and a little less than their share of the praise. Words to live by, says me, and I'm a fucking life coach.

So let's talk a little bit about blame. Firstly, this fits in very clearly with pillar number 1, don't make excuses. It's not exactly the same thing, but they're very close, like, if they were cousins they'd be too close to marry, except in some notable yet unnamed jurisdictions. If you've been listening, and according to my extensive viewing of my statistics you have not been - alas), you' remember that in episode two I said something like "But, if you make an excuse to make someone ELSE look shittier than you, that's not an excuse, that's just being a trash human being." Blaming people is like that, but it's complicated. Let's dig deeper into that festering heap shall we?

Before I really start to get into this, I want to clarify something here. There are two times when people blame others: The first is when they've done something (or not done something) that they should, and the second is when someone else did something, (or did not do something) that they should. So, in which instance should you place blame on another party? Yeah, you're right, it's a trick questions because the answer is neither. That's correct, blame is never the answer. But here's the problem: If you blame, it's because you learned to do that, probably from an early age, so it's more automatic.

According to an article titled "7 Consequences of Blaming Others for How We Manage Anger" published in Psychology Today, Dr. Bernard Golden who specializes in working with individuals on anger management issues and wrote "Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work" says "Blaming others for our anger, whether as individuals or countries, can be traced back in history. It may stem in part from our need to see ourselves as better than we truly are and as not being flawed." But guess what, placing blame doesn't make you less flawed. more importantly, he goes on to say that blaming creates neural pathways that make it easier to blame again, and again. So blame, as a strategy, needs to stop, and you need to break that cycle.

But the loop may not start and end with you. In a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology titled "Blame contagion: The automatic transmission of self-serving attributions", Nathanael Fast and Larissa Tiedens put forward the concept of the “blame contagion” hypothesis that posits that there exists a propensity for those who witness blame shifting in others to, subsequently, do the same for their own shortcomings. That's right, by simply witnessing blaming versus taking responsibility, individuals were more likely to shift blame for their own personal failings. 

But it's also important to note that if you try to fix it by always blaming yourself, there's a road to a dumpster fire down that alley as well. According to and article in Psychology Today by Dr. Shoba Sreenivasan, and Dr. Linda Weinberger, "Playing the self-blame game can be destructive. Although reviewing your actions to determine what went well and what went wrong can be highly beneficial, getting stuck in “self-blame” has the potential to be psychologically destructive." So if someone walks into a room and says "hey, did anyone bring lasagna?" and you put up your hand and say "No, I didn't because I'm a lasagna loser" you're self-blaming too much. And, also, there's still no fucking lasagna. So how do we fix this? I have some ideas, about the blame, not the lasagna, so much. Mmmm... lasagna ...
The first thing is to note that, even if someone is to blame for something, that doesn't mean there is a bad outcome. A situation that ends up less-than-perfect is exactly the time to address what went wrong, what went right, and how to move forward in a better position. Let's take that lasagna incident again: Once you know that there was an expectation of lasagna, but no actual fucking lasagna, stand up and say "I know where to get noodles, cheese and sauce, so if someone else here has a kitchen and a lasagna dish, we could make some right now." No blame, just accept the responsibility for moving the plan forward, and work with others on a solution. Also, of note, this works if you substitute cake for lasagna as well, just in case you were wondering. Mmmm ... cake ...

More importantly, think in terms of responsibility instead of blame, and always share it, even if it wasn't you who caused an issues, but especially if it was. In an article written by therapist Ana Gonzalez called "Why We Blame Others", she states: "Change how you view mistakes. Instead of viewing errors as failures to be blamed on others, try to see them as opportunities for self-improvement. By acknowledging your responsibility, you are more able to learn from your mistakes and gain greater control of your life." So that's the ticket in a nutshell. Whatever happened, and whoever had a part in something not working out, share the responsibility as a group, plan to do better as a group, and stop blaming yourself and others. The blame game will always fester because, like a band-aid on a hacksaw wound, it's never dealt with. But taking responsibility turns it into a positive, or at least a work in progress. And isn't that better than a failure-in-training as I mentioned earlier. I mean, you still might be, but snap out of it, there's cake to eat!

And, finally, you have to realize that sometimes, shit just happens and it's not anyone's fault - not you, not someone else, no one. Sometimes a business opportunity goes sour because of weather or markets, sometimes you slip and hit your head, sometimes your 70s Pinto doesn't explode but just stops running. In these situations, you may, in fact, have the most room for personal growth because you can't blame, but you have know how to recognize them as opportunities and take them when they're offered. They can be powerful tools if you choose to pick them up.

Okay, so that's it for this episode. As always, I'll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – Yes you heard me, w-w-w. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there's a link on my website. And please request some stickers – they’re fun, free, and they don’t cause measles, OCD or bad jokes, probably. Also, if you like what you've heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that.

Disgruntled Nugget

It has been said that "People blame themselves for the purpose of being praised." However, Francois De La Rochefoucauld once said "Some blames are actually praise, and some praises are actually blame." But I read where Dante points to one of his circles of hell and describes those existing there as "The sad souls of those who lived without blame and without praise." So, it seems, sometimes we blame to be praised, sometimes the praise we get is blame, and if we are doomed for all time if we are neither blamed or praised, or something, I don't know, whatever...

Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...