COLUMN: It's not my fault!

-A A +A
By John Lapp

How easy it is for a child to project blame onto someone else when the parent knows, maybe has even visually witnessed, the child in the very act of wrongdoing. But, today’s column is not addressed to children, whatever age they may be, but to adult “children,” no matter what age they may be.
Admitting you are wrong is not anything more than being human. That’s all.
However, many adults have been so accustomed to shifting blame that the habit has been ingrained for so many years that it’s hard to break. There is only one who is qualified honestly never to be blamed for doing wrong, and that one suffered death for all.
In my many years of being in the profession of mental health, I am still amazed that so many continue with the attempt to shift blame to someone else, knowing all along that he or she is actually the one who needs to admit wrongdoing and apologize.
How many times have you told the offending child, more often than not with a firm voice even in anger, “you tell your brother/sister, ‘I’m sorry,’” and the child does exactly that stating in a flat, non-emotional tone. That is not the equivalent of truly being sorry for what was done or said.
I once owned a T-shirt, with the following statement in large print: “You can either agree with me, or be wrong.” A humorous, silly statement and one which I would caution you not to proudly display when disagreeing with your spouse unless you have a relationship that has a comfortable sense of humor.
That being said, too many people actually believe that statement, and will argue at length to defend their right to believe that.
When you know that you have been wrong in some matter, admitting that you have been wrong does not support that you have showed that you lack average intelligence. In fact, the opposite is true. Admitting you were wrong is, in fact, a measure of higher intellectual capacity and actually presents to others that you are a person with admirable character traits because they are able to see that you are actually fully human.
A good sign of growing maturity is to stop laying the blame on others for certain failures. I actually enjoy saying things like “I messed up,” and I don’t feel like an idiot for saying that. Maybe even admitting something like: “I should have listened to you before making that decision,” “I should have talked it over with you before jumping into it without your input,” should never be seen as being stupid or thoughtless.
I need you, and you need me: we need each other. One of the most ridiculous statements that can ever be made is that someone is a self-made man or woman. How can that be possible? Actually, it is not possible. For instance, a man who seemingly depends on himself may appear to be that person, but how did he become so? Do you mean he accumulated that wealth all by himself without the help of anyone? With that in mind, you could develop a sense of “it’s not going to happen with me,
it never does. No matter what I attempt, it usually ends up failing. I’ll probably always have a dead-end job, doing the same old routine stuff, never getting ahead.”
You may have also thought to yourself that you never received any encouragement when you were younger and that’s probably some of the reason that you’ll never get ahead of the game. Maybe your definition of success is the wrong definition because you mesasure it in the accumulation of things like the type of house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, etc.
Finally, at least for this week’s column on this unusual subject, many people who struggle with the fault issue see this in their relationship with others. Many people have, for example, tried dating by putting their profile with a dating service. Perhaps soon after, they have experienced a couple of dates, seemed to have a great time, even wanting to see the date happen again but, alas, nothing happened.
“It must be my fault” could be the immediate response, but then maybe the other is the one that is to blame.
It may be actually empowering and freeing not to have to hide from failure, but embrace it and admit it.
When I first began my private practice in the field of mental health and marriage and family counseling, I felt terrible when I looked back on some of the situations in which I was less than successful. I have always had a real sense of where and how I messed up in some of these situations, but when I developed more maturity in my practice, I began to have an overall perspective of the many reasons why this particular situation did not turn out to be successful. I did a thorough analysis of many things in each of these not so successful outcomes. First of all, I checked myself out on my overall practice including many wonderful successes and productive, healthy outcomes in order to not be so hard on myself. I also did a thorough account, for example, on some things like how long this couple had been in trouble in their relationship with one another, and what they had done to improve, how many attempts before now had they been engaged in counseling with other counselors, how many times had they separated from each other although not moving into separate residences, etc.
I then asked myself, “Did you do the best that you could given these unhealthy patterns that the couple had experienced for so many years?” That type of questioning is good for you, too.
Are you actually at fault for a failed relationship, or for a job that didn’t work out? While answering that question to yourself, ask another question, a different kind of question, “Is it the other person’s fault for the failed relationship, or the failed job?” You might find that looking for a fault may not be the answer in most situations. Maybe try saying, “Oh well” Then, go on with your life without that unnecessary baggage to drag you down.
May God bless you as you keep striving in life to do better, without the accompanying practice of whose fault it is.
For information, call 477-2818.