Brené Brown on Letting Go of Blame

When painful or difficult things happen in life, how do you react? Do you immediately want to know whose fault it is? Blaming is the habit of making other people or things ‘wrong’ or responsible when difficult things happen to us.

According to research professor, author and speaker Brené Brown, we mostly blame when we are in pain or angry. “Here’s what we know from the research,” she says, “Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Blaming is a way that we discharge anger.”

What We Lose by Playing the Blame Game

The problem with blaming is twofold. Firstly, when we’re stuck in blaming and finger pointing, we get defensive and we miss the opportunity to look honestly and gently at ourselves, see what role we played in events and how we might be able to learn and grow from it. We create wrong-doers and right-doers in our minds and may even feel justified to punish and attack others.

“All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.”― Marshall B. Rosenberg

Secondly we also miss out on the possibility of having an honest, open and empathetic conversation to hold people accountable for their actions and ask for change. Holding people accountable takes a lot more grit, courage and self-awareness than raging, attacking and fault-finding.

The takeaway: The moment that you place blame you undermine your resolve to create change—both within and without. In the words of Andy Stanley, “People who blame things rarely change things. Blame is an unassailable change-avoidance strategy.”   

In this short animation, Brené shares a funny, personal story about being a ‘blamer’ and goes on to share some key insights from her research into this unhelpful behaviour.

May we all blame a little less, love a little more and take gentle, courageous and compassionate responsibility for our lives.

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