Why Blaming Others For Setbacks Is Never Productive
I notice a common and steadfast difference between those who succeed and those who do not: the latter are full of excuses and the former…aren’t. That’s not to say that people who are successful have never faced a challenge. Of course they have. There are a lot of successful people who didn’t go to college, are of a minority that’s generally discriminated against in their industry, or didn’t have parents who believed in them. They probably bumped up against the ways in which these factors set them back many, many times. But they didn’t see them as insurmountable challenges. Or, they thought, “Well. I’ll persist anyways. I’ll be the one who thrives in spite of that.” They didn’t dwell on the obstacle. Then I, unfortunately, have a few family members who haven’t made an inch—nay, not even a millimeter—of progress on their goals in years due to a dozen perceived slights and wrongdoings towards them. I want to tell them, “So keep going anyways.” Here is why blaming others for your setbacks isn’t productive or healthy.
It changes nothing
Even if you are 110 percent correct that your setback is somebody else’s fault, it doesn’t change anything. You don’t get the thing you wanted by correctly identifying the person who stood in your way of getting it. Life doesn’t work like that. There are many times when we are correct—that our parents didn’t teach us this enough or that this person sabotaged us—and then what? Nothing. Nothing changes.
They won’t admit it if it’s true
And, even when we are right that somebody else held us back (again, blaming our parents for our shortcomings is quite common) we almost never get the satisfaction of having them admit it. So proving it was their fault is a double waste of time. In fact, it can only leave you more frustrated.
So they won’t help you
Since those who stood in the way of our goals will rarely admit they had any hand in the issue, they’ll also rarely help us. I’ll give you an example: for a long time I blamed my dad for the fact that I’m not further along in my career. I blamed him because right when it was time to apply for colleges and take SATs, my parents were in the middle of a messy divorce due to his infidelities. It was distracting, to say the least. I always say that got in the way of my going to a better college and getting a better footing in life. Guess what: my dad isn’t just going to hand me money because of that accusation.
There will always be someone to blame
The truth is that, if we want to, we can always find somebody besides ourselves to blame for our setbacks and shortcomings. If we dig deep enough, we will find someone. There was that receptionist who looked at you funny when you were walking into that important presentation and she made you insecure. Yeah—this is all her fault.
Even successful people could have done it
Here’s another interesting flip of the example with my father: my dad’s dad left when he was a baby, then his mom left him with his grandparents when he was 10.They were poor and couldn’t give him opportunities. He started working at age 11 and built himself an empire. He’s very wealthy today. So…he certainly had a lot people he could have blamed, and plenty of excuses not to thrive. But he didn’t lean on them. He thrived anyways.
In some way, we are always to blame
In many cases, we are at least in some way to blame. Let’s say a business partner screws you over. You did choose that partner. In some way, you’re part of this equation. We are never entirely removed from our own failures. How could we be?
So there is always something to learn
If we are always in some way to blame for our setbacks, then there is always something to learn. In the case of the dishonest business partner: did you research her history enough before? Did you talk to people she worked with in the past? Did you see red flags that you ignored?
If you won’t learn it, that’s your fault
One thing I see happen a lot is that people don’t want to learn the lessons available to them during their failures. They let the pain and anger consume them. They are too proud to admit they may have had a hand in this. And so, they set themselves up for it to all happen again.
It becomes a habit
When you get in the habit of blaming everyone else for your setbacks, it becomes a slippery slope. You can almost adjust your eyes to see things a certain way—to see the world as conspiring against you. You’ll re-write history after things go wrong, even adding incidents of people wronging you that didn’t quite happen. Making excuses is addicting. I’ve seen people lose their live (figuratively) to it.
So you never look inward
When you stop looking inward and reflecting on your own mistakes in business, you stop doing it in several areas of your life. When a friend gets upset with you, you find a way to say that it’s her own fault—that you did nothing. (Even though you said you’d take her to the airport but you didn’t show up—or something like that).
And sometimes, it’s all you
While the main issue is that people often blame others for their setbacks and they’re right, but it isn’t productive, there’s another issue: sometimes it just is your fault. Nobody else’s. This can be painful and hard to admit. But, people tend to respect someone who admits their mistakes, apologizes, and tries to find a way to make things better.
People want solutions; not excuses
In a work environment, sometimes you’ll find those superiors who don’t want excuses; they want solutions. They don’t want you to pose a question until you’ve determined the answer. When money is on the line, nobody is going to accept an “Oopsies” and a shoulder shrug. You just need to find a new way to get it done, no matter whose fault it is that it didn’t get done.
A stronger person will find solutions
Know that there is always someone who will find a solution if you won’t. Those are the people who become successful. They watch you flounder and make excuses for why you aren’t accomplishing something while they quietly just get it done. Then you’ll feel really silly because, well, they prove that it can be done.
You’ll perpetuate a victim mentality
You don’t want to perpetuate a victim mentality in yourself. This is another slippery slope. If blaming and even fabricating slights is your general way of doing things in work, you start seeing slights that aren’t there. A rude attitude from a server perhaps. Someone intentionally not inviting you to something. You can train your brain to think the world is after you, and it’s hard to un-train it.
You give away your power
When you blame others for your setbacks, you give away your power. If someone else has so much power to stop you from getting what you want, then doesn’t that also mean they have all the power to give you what you want? That’s a rather weakening stance to have in life.