“I didn’t say it was your fault…I said I was going to blame you.” – Refrigerator Magnet
Oscar and Luna had been together for two years. There was occasional talk of marriage and less occasional talk of having children. Oscar thought the relationship was in a great place. On the surface, Luna seemed to be happy too. But the truth, if she ever uttered it to anyone, was that Luna wanted more. Their casual conversations about marriage and family always left her feeling that Oscar wasn’t really in it for the long haul, whereas Luna was one of those women who had dreamed of getting married since she was a little girl. She had imagined every second of it, down to the finest detail. Of course, she never shared any of this with Oscar. His coolness on the subject worried Luna that too much marriage talk might scare him away. As time went on, Luna began to feel resentful. Why wasn’t Oscar making her dreams come true? What the hell was his major malfunction? The truth was, Luna was deferring accountability to her vision (marriage, three kids, a tudor house with a white picket fence) by blaming Oscar for not making it happen. But Oscar was just being Oscar. In fact, he didn’t even know how important it was for Luna because rather than sharing her vision with him, she was simply waiting for him to figure it out for himself. Eventually, the blame that Luna placed on Oscar for not delivering on her vision became a poison that infected the entire relationship.
There are three ways in which we defer accountability to our vision – Blame, No Belief, and Feeling Sorry for Ourselves. Some people even reach a professional level of deferral in which they practice all three. We like to call that the tri-fu*k-ta. In Luna’s case, she was deferring accountability to her vision of marriage and family by blaming Oscar. Typically, we blame in three different ways. We blame ourselves, we blame other people, we blame the world. When we place blame, we are opting out of vision and we’re creating something else that we’re going to have to answer to. Of course, all of us do this from time to time. No one is perfect. And it’s not reasonable to expect that we will never defer accountability, but what we can do is learn to recognize when we’re doing it and take appropriate actions to redirect ourselves. Because if we don’t know we’re doing it, we can’t change it.
Take a moment and ask yourself, “When I blame myself, or others, or the world, what does that look like for me? What is my strategy for placing blame? What will be the outcome that I create? As a result of that outcome, what will I answer to over time?” I can tell you it will definitely be something other than the vision that you created, because when we place blame we opt out of what’s possible for ourselves. This doesn’t mean you should criticize or punish yourself when you recognize that you’re placing blame. I can’t emphasize this enough. Imagine the rabbit hole you could go down blaming yourself for blaming yourself for blaming yourself. Rather, simply acknowledge that you’re deferring accountability through blame, then redirect and move your focus back to vision.
Acknowledge the way you can influence and make a difference on that which is around you. Focus on what matters and the difference you can make rather than focusing on what you can't do. Rather than deferring accountability through blaming yourself, others, or the world, instead acknowledge, “I was blaming there, and I'm going to make the choice to own the situation and answer to the vision that I choose to create.”
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And just for fun - the quote at the top is a real refrigerator magnet that I saw proudly displayed at a friends house. Here's the photo as proof!