Don’t Blame-Take Responsibility
October 26, 2020
I was once in a coaching conversation with a young friend who had recently been made redundant. It was close to two months since the exit, but instead of moving on, this friend was very bitter, blaming the Organisation and his boss for his dire situation. This bitterness and angst were showing up in conversations he was having with other prospective employers and negatively impacting his chances of being picked.
“How could they do this? I thought my boss was honest. He turned out to be unscrupulous. He is responsible for all my woes, and It is because of him, my life is a mess right now.”
We explored ways by which he could move on and let go of the bitterness and anger he had bottled up inside him. Not only was he blaming his ex-boss, but he was making that ex-boss responsible for his present emotional state.
One of the key points I tried to bring home in this conversation was this-
There is an essential difference between blaming someone for something versus that person being responsible for how one feels.
Nothing external can be responsible for how you feel. Only you can be responsible for your emotional state. Others may be to blame for your unhappiness and bitterness, but nobody can ever be responsible for your own emotions but you.
Responsibility always has an internal locus. This is because you get to choose how you interpret your experiences and what meaning you derive from them.
Yes, the supervisor may have done something terrible towards my young friend. And, my friend may be wholly justified in blaming him for his current predicament. But, instead of taking responsibility for improving his emotional state, he was focussing his energies on accusing his ex-boss and being bitter.
By blaming his ex-boss, he was excusing himself completely.
But, it was his life and therefore his responsibility to manage his own emotions. Unless he took responsibility for how he wanted to feel, he would continue to be in the rut.
The conversation ended positively. My young friend realized that he was ceding his personal power to external factors. Others may be to blame for his unhappiness, but he was responsible for his own happiness. He understood that it was his responsibility to manage the emotional fallout of the experience of being made redundant. Someone else was the cause for some of his troubles, but he was responsible for finding his way out of trouble.
Post Script: This young friend of mine is now an entrepreneur, very happy and fulfilled. He acknowledges that he is in a better position today and in hindsight, getting the pink slip was a blessing in disguise. Also, he is graceful enough to admit that his ex-boss may not have been entirely at fault. He was not delivering his best and that had something to do with he being chosen for the pink slip.