Blame. It’s like jealousy and guilt and regret. We all know it’s worthless and counterproductive and feels terrible but we still indulge.
That’s because we have a spectrum that ranges from blame to responsibility. Let’s call it the Responsibility Spectrum.
At the far left you’ve got stuff you’re certain you’re not responsible for. Your kid punched your other kid in the mouth. There’s a war going on and innocent people are dying. Your uncle verbally abused you and now you have anxiety. Your boss gave you another project after you told her you were swamped.
On the far right there’s stuff only you are responsible for. You went and got yourself a haircut. You intentionally got pregnant. You worked hard, saved up, and bought yourself a Tesla.
Then the entire middle chunk of the spectrum is this subjective mix of blame and responsibility:
You drank too much last night. But your friends were pressuring you. Let’s say 60% your responsibility, 40% theirs.
You’re financially irresponsible. Yeah it’s mostly your responsibility, but your parents were too lenient with you growing up so you never had the chance to learn to be good with your money. We’ll go with 80% your responsibility, 20% theirs.
Your partner isn’t as kind or loving with you as they used to be. This one is messy and hard to figure out who’s responsible for what. So we’ll say 50% 50%.
Then here’s where you get stuck: how do you solve the problem if you’re only partially responsible for it?
That means in order to solve it you require something you have no control over.
How do you overcome your anxiety NOW when the only way for the trauma to go away is if your uncle never verbally abused you in the first place?
How do you become financially responsible NOW when the only way for you to become financially responsible is if you had a different upbringing?
How do you become a more balanced drinker NOW when peer pressure, a variable you can’t control, accounts for 40% of whether or not you drink?
How do you even begin to solve a massive issue like a war killing innocent people if you’re sitting up in the nosebleeds pointing fingers at the bad guys?
How can you grow if you’re holding something you can’t control accountable for something only you can control?
How can you become your best self when you believe that your experience is someone else’s fault?
It’s important to know that it’s also not your fault. It’s not your fault that a war is happening. It’s not your fault that you drank too much. It’s not your fault that you have anxiety as a result of verbal abuse growing up. But it is absolutely your responsibility, starting right now, to create the future you want. And blaming it on anyone, including yourself, goes in the exact opposite direction of that future.
The fastest way to create the future you want is to take 100% responsibility for everything you experience.
In his book Energy Leadership, Bruce D Schneider outlines The 7 Levels of Energy. Think of these levels like paradigms or perspectives or attitudes. Level 1 is the lowest (or worst-feeling) attitude, and level 7 is the highest (or best-feeling) attitude. The higher your level of energy the more aligned and free and creative you are. At higher levels of energy you are more equipped to deal with tough situations. At lower levels of energy, the more self-conscious and depressed and manipulative you are. The lower your level of energy the less equipped you are to deal with tough situations.
To simplify: the better you feel the more able you are to solve problems and contribute to the world. The worse you feel the more you perpetuate problems, manipulate others, and limit your own growth.
Victimization and anger are the lowest and second lowest levels of energy, respectively. This is where blame lives. These low levels are characterized by the belief that the world is happening to you. You are a victim of your circumstances. Bad stuff happened (or is happening) to you and as a result you are worse off than you should be.
In other words if your current negative experience is anything except 100% your responsibility, you can expect to keep suffering and perpetuating whatever problem you think caused your suffering in the first place.
If you’re serious about feeling better, getting more out of yourself and transcending the problem, you’ll convert your blame to responsibility and start improving your attitude. Being responsible and in control of your attitude feels good.
The more you train yourself to automatically take 100% responsibility—especially for the circumstances that are “definitely not your fault”—the more you’ll expedite the process of moving up the levels of energy to perspectives of service and opportunity and creativity and genius. The more often you take 100% responsibility for everything you experience the more part of the solution you’ll be.
To take it on, ditch blame and make this your new mantra:
“I am 100% responsible for everything I experience.”
This is the first chapter from my first ebook, Get Out of Your Way: Make 2017 The Best Year of Your Life.
The guy in the photo is one of my dear friends and someone who has been a relentless stream of support and inspiration, Kwame Apraku.