IT’S 2013: GET RID OF BLAME (part 3 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about building trusting relationships. I believe that we are all created for relationships and what gives our lives meaning and purpose is to know that we are loved and accepted. When we have happy, purposeful, and meaningful relationships, then our lives become meaningful because we are loved and accepted by someone. Meaningful relationships really do bring hope to our lives.

In my first post, I asked you to consider becoming a loving person at the start of 2013. In my second post, I want you to consider practicing being humble as you journey through 2013. Each month I will ask you to consider practicing various themes so that by the end of the year, you will have seen that 2013 was not just a year in which you passively allowed time to happen to you, but that you actively became a different person by practicing healthy character and success in all relationships.

In my third post for 2013 (January was love and February was humbleness) I want to focus on finding ways to get rid of blame. The most common response to a problem is “It’s not my fault.” We all tend to blame and try to find the root of a problem by stating that it is not my fault, but we blame the problem on a variety of other things. We all like to point the finger and try to find faultfinding as a way to either not take responsibility for our problems or find fault with others as a way to try to get someone else to take responsibility.

Resolve Failure & Mistakes

In this post, I want you to consider various ways to resolve failure and mistakes, so that these two areas do not become reasons for blame. We all can identify how failures and mistakes can set us up to feeling stuck or defeated as reasons or rationale for staying stuck. Staying stuck, blaming others or our self will only lead to concluding that we can’t find success in life. But this does not have to be true.

We all know there are two things in life: death and taxes! But we can also add a third certainty in life: failure and mistakes. Both of these are an absolute given. We don’t like to admit or talk about it but the reality of life is to accept this truth: all people fail and make mistakes. The challenge for all of us in life is how do we respond when we fail or make a mistake and how can we learn and mature.

You see, resolving failure and mistakes, and not blaming, is part of the process of learning and trying. Life really is all about learning and trying. We all try something for the first time, and we fail or make a mistake, and then we learn from them and keep moving on so we can succeed. Remember when you learned how to ride a bike? Or drive a car? Or learn to swim? Or gave your first speech or closed on your first sales project? Sure, we could go on and on about various examples but the bottom line is this: Whatever we feel good about doing now was at one time a very, very, daunting task, and we all failed the first time we tried it. The healthy way to look at failure is to realize that a task was yet to be learned. When we fail at a talk, we feel defeated; but when we keep on trying and learn, then we feel successful.

The challenge for all of us is to recognize how we feel about failure and mistakes. Do you view them as a series of tasks and skills to be learned or do you view yourself as a failure? Our journey toward success and accomplishments has to go through the door of failure. The challenge when you fail at something is the invitation to keep moving and not remain stuck, feeling like a failure. When we get stuck, we tend to pull to the side of the road of life, we quit, and blame the trying effort as useless, and get hung up with not succeeding.

The difference between the winners and those who are not winning is not that winners do not fail. We all fail, except that the winners view their failure as normal, move through in and learn, and get past it. Those who get stuck and stay stuck are incapable of doing whatever it is they7 are attempting because they are incapable of handling failure. And when the wall of failure hits them, they pull to the side of the road of life, quit, and then blame and find fault.

The invitation to get out of blame is for each of us to analyze what failing means to you and me? If failure is part of life and normal in the process of becoming successful, then the following questions are going to be asked of all of us when we fail.

What do you feel when you fail? (In other words, when you are rejected for a job, or you do not close the deal of a sales project, or your new business goes belly up.) Do you feel bad and get defeated? (Not a mere disappointment or sadness, but a judgment about yourself that plunges you into criticizing yourself and immobilizing you). Does all hope go out of you? Do you tell yourself that you are a loser and also conclude that success is for others and not for you? Do you feel it is all your fault and then feel shameful that you are all bad and quit? Do you then start to blame yourself, accuse yourself or condemn yourself or start to blame others or God thinking that others are out to get you?

Many people respond to failure in these ways because they personalize their failure having a negative meaning for their lives. They personalize it and either blame themselves or blame others. But the accurate meaning of failure is that it is a learning experience—a time to learn about ourselves, to learn the skills needed to master an endeavor we want to accomplish and to not quit. Usually our negative interpretations come from our past experiences that have not been resolved or healed. Our past failures then get applied to current and future experiences. Thus, if past experiences of failure lead to our belief that I am a loser, then we will have that same conclusion about our self when we take on new experiences into the future. We drag our baggage of failure into all new opportunities and sabotage them due to this belief we are going to lose and fail.

To heal this failure cycle is to do three things: Learn from it, forgive yourself, and let it go. Sure, that might be easier said then done, but when we can do this, then we will find ways to let go of the bag called loser and not allow it to sabotage or spoil our future. Instead, we need to view failure as normal. Failure can be normal as long as you learn from it and see it as part of the process of being human and finding success. When we all view failure and mistakes as your friend, then we can learn and welcome new tasks. But, if you only view failure as your enemy, then you certainly will run from it and not allow it to be a lesson learned but instead something to avoid.

So find a supportive friend, a group of people, a counselor, pastor or someone that you trust to help you work through your view of failure. The negative meaning you place on failure and your negative emotional reactions will create pessimism and not optimism. Find a way to work through your negative patterns, take ownership of them, and learn from them so they don’t trip you up into the future. You can deal with failure!

Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback, comments and reaction.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist