Gina Behm, MA, LCPC
Blame vs. Responsibility
Updated: Jul 13, 2019
Hi there! After writing my first post about blame, I wanted to touch base about the difference between blame and responsibility. The definition of blame in the Merriam Webster dictionary is, “to find fault with”and “place responsibility for”. On the other hand, Merriam Webster’s definition of responsibility is “moral, legal, or mental accountability”. So what’s the difference between these two?
Well, the way I see it, when it comes down to the difference between blame and responsibility, one is assigning liability onto someone else, while the other is owning up to your own liability. Blame allows us to take our own selves out of the picture, and while this may feel more comfortable initially, what it really does is breed anger and create helplessness. If we aren’t in the picture, we have no control; things are happening to us and we have no say. When we take responsibility for things, yes we may experience shame, guilt or embarrassment, but the flip side is that we open up the door to be able to take control of our own lives and create change.
Language is a key factor in how we learn about ourselves; when I talk about blaming the brain instead of ourselves, this is not a way to remove responsibility we hold for our problems, but rather a tool to begin seeing ourselves as parts that are changeable and able to be improved. If we need to start with blame, that is okay, but what I do not want to see is clients holding onto self-blame in order to self-sabotage and halt any forward progress. We can absolutely begin with blame; at some point though, that blame is going to turn into responsibility, and from here, we can move forward.
In my experience, often times when we need to take responsibility for something, our guilt and shame lead us to blaming others. So next time you find yourself blaming, pause for a moment and get curious; what is your part in this situation? Do you have any control here? How can you rewrite this story to have a better ending? Take charge! Be accountable for what happens in your life, don’t let others create your story.
See you soon!