Did the devil make me do it?
Yes. Because he was lookin' for a soul to steal.
Okay, so I was being facetious. It's fun. Seriously, though. Let's take a look at this phrase, and others like it.
"The devil made me do it."
"I was possessed."
"I wasn't in my right mind."
What is it about the tendency to blame our own actions and decisions on outside, even mythical forces? Even supposing that you are religiously inclined, the bible I read (King James, if you're wondering) advocates personal responsibility in conjunction with spirituality.
So where does this come from, the need to shift blame? What does it accomplish?
Well, I suppose if you're at all talented at shifting blame, then you get out of a lot of trouble. Personally, I don't think, "The devil made me do it," is the most imaginative or believable explanation -- but perhaps someone does?
On the flip side, what if you take responsibility for your wrongs? Now, there's an interesting concept. How often does, say, a married couple get into a fight that quickly disintegrates into a volley of, "You did this!" and, "Well, if you hadn't done that!"
What would happen if someone just stopped, and instead of blaming their spouse for their actions said, "You're right. I did something wrong; what can I do to make it right?"
What would happen if, instead of blaming your boss for your failure to get a raise, you looked at your work history and ethic and said, "Oh! Maybe I could have done a little better here."
What would happen if, instead of blaming your friend for not understanding you, you tried to understand them?
Well, hopefully we'd get along a lot better. But shifting the blame is more than trying to get out of trouble; it's a power-play. It's essentially saying, "I'm not that stupid/ powerless/ inept. I would not do this of my own will."
It's why it's so hard to admit wrongdoing, to man up and say, "Hey, bad me. Whoops." By admitting wrongdoing, you put yourself in an inferior social position, that of one who has failed. You must wait on the mercy of the one you've wronged, and it's so much easier not to put ourselves in that passive position.
Of course, you miss out on all that personal growth and the learning aspect of personal responsibility -- but who needs that stuff, anyway? Immaturity, for the win! (Sorry, the devil made me do it.)
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