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Mommy, Why Does Uncle Chip Shift Culpability from Himself to Others?

Updated on December 8, 2011
"Shifting Blame" by the author
"Shifting Blame" by the author

Because he’s a yellow-bellied coward who has succumbed to the societal contagion of such behavior, Sweetie.

I once read the news of an elected official who showed up late to a hearing of some type. His excuse was that the traffic had detained him. But the judge fined him for contempt of court, anyway, for his tardiness.

This created quite a stir in our community, as there was really no known precedent for this action. But as I thought about it, I decided that the judge was justified in this: In my opinion, too many people are too quick to shift blame to others, when - in the end - what they did was really their doing, or their lack of proper planning.

In an effort to find official support for this action, I wrote a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, describing the case, then offering my defense. I said what I wrote above, and that this type of behavior can become a crutch that some day will bury the creativity and genius within those who continue to use that excuse. I also mentioned that this behavior could spread enough to create warlike feuds in families and communities, if not checked.

Senator Hatch replied with a letter that said, “Thank you for your letter of support for Judge ________ regarding her actions in the case of ___________. I am sure that many Utahns agree. And our courts deserve the respect of participants in proceedings by their being on time for scheduled hearings. . . ."

For most of us, it has become an automatic defense mechanism to blame others for our crimes, misdeeds or misfortunes. You don’t have to be a “yellow-bellied coward,” as our mother above mentioned. Our society has bred this into us. This is why there needs to be some type of check or program to reverse that trend. Some people are afraid that if they admit ineptness or accept blame for something gone wrong in a place of business, they will get fired, or perhaps demoted. This fear should be clearly and emphatically assuaged on the occasion of a person’s orientation as they enter a place of business.

I once did something in the workplace for which I could have easily blamed another person. But as I stepped back and assessed the overall impact of my subsequent response, I decided it would be best to accept the blame. My supervisor was visibly pleased with my admission, and he also verbally praised me for not being afraid to admit it.

Employers and supervisors should realize that nobody is perfect, and also that we learn through our mistakes. Our goal to reach the moon or Mars was not done in one planning meeting, then in one construction project of the equipment that took us there. There were many mistakes, adjustments and improvements based on those mistakes that eventually perfected the system sufficiently to get us there and back.

When I first heard that my place in life and my failures were all basically my own fault, I was furious, angry at the article’s writer that mentioned such, and refused to believe it for a long time. But as I reviewed my life and became more honest with myself, I decided that the article was right.

All of us need to resist the call of the contagious epidemic that is called “blame-shifting,” and take control of our lives. In doing so, we will also help control the upward trend of progress and unity among the people of the world. With such unity and responsibility, our world can quickly become a better, more peaceful place.

For a professional take on this problem, follow this link:


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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      6 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Blameshifting is a family trait which gets passed down every generation in my family. It's usually the person who is also very negative in general. I doubt anyone would believe me but it really does seem to be a genetic thing.


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