5 Reasons We Play The Blame Game

When our kids were young Christine and I would be busy in one part of the house and hear an argument brewing between the kids. One of them would come find us breathlessly calling out “Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad.” Having a good idea of what was coming next, I’d say, “Tell me whatever you want except I don’t want you to tell me about your brother (or sister).” With big eyes and intense faces they’d stammer out a few words only to find themselves frustrated because the whole reason they’d come to find us is to tell on each other and blame each other for whatever problem they faced.

This was our attempt to prevent our kids from playing the blame game. It’s a game that started back in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve (and indirectly God) for his sin and Eve blamed the serpent for her’s. Since then human beings have played the game countless times without any winners.

5 Reasons We Play The Blame Game

  1. Blame is a defense mechanism. No one likes to admit that he is wrong or made a mistake or even sinned against another person. So blaming allows me to shift the responsibility to another person. It’s a form of self protection.
  2. Blame helps us make sense of the world. Because people are made in the image of God we want the world to have meaning and make sense. If something bad happens (even small things like the meal was overcooked), we often feel compelled to explain why it happened. It’s more emotionally satisfying to say “you screwed up” than to leave it with “it just didn’t work out.”
  3. Blame is a way to attack another person. If something goes wrong, I can score points by assigning responsibility to you.
  4. Blame is a shortcut. If someone pulls out in front of me on the way to work, the easiest thing for me to do is to blame them which in this case is to assume the driver is a selfish jerk. Of course when I pull out in front of someone it’s because “I’m running late to a meeting or have to go to the bathroom!” Blame is easier than thinking through the possibilities that might have led the person to make the choice that inconvenienced me. Blame is easier than giving another person the benefit of the doubt.
  5. “Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain.” That’s a quote from Brene Brown’s shor and very helpful video on this topic. When I first heard the line it didn’t quite make sense but the more I think about it the more I appreciate how insightful it is. We all experience daily problems ranging from minor inconveniences to major issues that cause in us feelings of discomfort and pain. Often those feelings pour out of us in the form of blaming someone. For whatever reason, we feel better when someone or something is found be to at fault for our problems. Maybe it gives us a sense of control?

When you play the blame game no one wins. Blame always divides people and never unites them. Blaming others keeps me from examining me. No one playing the blame game prays Psalm 139:23-24…

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

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