Blame is convenient. Why? Because blame’s sole purpose is to exonerate us from feeling guilt or responsibility for our experience, for the way that we feel, for what ails us. Truthfully, we don’t know what is at the core of our malaise because we use the construct of blame to keep it from our awareness. Blame is a way to dissociate from our experience rather than lean into it, be with it and savor our presence. A telling sign is that we are far more curious about others' experiences, reactions and motivations than we are about our own, wrongly thinking we understand both.
We are in the midst of some crazy times right now. And blame is rampant. If you think you are not implicated in the blame game - consider your list of ‘if onlys’. If only we had handled this differently in the beginning, if only we had a different president, if only China had been forthcoming, if only we all wore masks, if only schools were open, if only they weren't.
It is not that things are actually worse than before. External circumstances may have shifted but what ailed each of us individually and collectively then ails us now, ironically with very little variation. But we have forgotten what we felt like pre-pandemic. Corona has lulled us into a form of amnesia where before the onset of COVID everything was great. We idealize what was, yearning to get back to it - to normalcy. We have forgotten that we were stressed and overwhelmed prior to the pandemic wishing things were different - then as now.
As we continue to blame others or events in our lives, we remain caught in a cycle that never ends whereby we attribute our internal experience to external causes. Through the process of blaming we confuse cause and effect believing that external events create our internal experience. To heal from and beyond the COVID era, we must reverse this reversal. The correct order of operations is inner determines outer, not the other way around. Period. Whenever you are feeling off or your peace is disturbed, do not look around you for the cause, for something or someone to blame. Just sit with the way you are feeling and be kind to yourself. No blame required.
I thought I was afraid of flying. It seemed logical by conventional psych standards as my mother suffered from fear of flying and I took after her. When my daughter started to show signs of anxiety on flights, though, I was no longer comfortable with that narrative. It needed to be addressed. As you all know of me, what I see outside, I heal within and you can read more about that process in my blog Beyond Fear (which actually inspired this website). But in a nutshell what I understood was that we had fear - and we blamed planes for our fear. In blaming my fear on planes, I devised a solution to avoid planes and in doing so I simply kicked the can. As with many of us, I never dealt with the fear until it showed up in some other way which in my case was cancer.
We don't have to kick the can. COVID with all of its ripples is a great opportunity for transformation. It is not the cause of our collective dis-ease, but a symptom of it. I learned the ‘hard’ way when we heal symptoms (aka not flying) without addressing the underlying cause (aka fear) we create side effects (aka cancer) that then need to be managed. Trust me when I say that it is much more expedient to go to the heart of the matter than to continually put out ancillary fires.
Becoming savvy to the blame game, why we use it and what it does should feel liberating. Think about it. Trump is not the cause of your frustration, COVID is not responsible for the dis-ease you are feeling, quarantine is not responsible for the loneliness you are sensing, your spouse, kids and home schooling are not what is making you crazy. What a relief. In truth, even if all those things remitted today, right now, we would not be any closer to peace.
We can take a big step toward peace by taking a moment to get honest with ourselves and see where we are precariously hanging our sanity in this moment. Begin by making a list of your ‘if onlys’ so we can negate them one by one.
All would fine if only there was a cure
All would not be fine if only there was a cure.
All would be fine if only Trump was out of office.
All would not be fine if only Trump were out of office. (How many of us are waiting for election day? Remember those days when all would be fine if only Trump was impeached??)
All would be fine if we only had more money.
All would not be fine if only we had more money.
All would be fine if only my relationship was better.
All would not be fine if only my relationship was better.
All would be fine if only I could work out again.
All would not be fine if only I could work out again.
All would be fine if I lost a few pounds, got more sleep, etc...
Our experience tells us that our if only's don't work. We have actually achieved many of them with only momentary relief at best. Taking ‘if onlys’ off the table interrupts the cycle of blame, discourages the tendency to seek out another erroneous ‘solution’ to fill the blame gap, and redirects you to your source within.
It is only here that our answers lie, and peace resides.