Scapegoating and blame

People blaming each otherAnother mistaken blink-of-an-eye assumption (or “mis-blink“) we can easily fall into during times of change is called blaming or scapegoating.

When a situation turns out differently from the way we expected and we blame a person for something they had only partial control over then we are mixing up the person, the event, and our feelings about the event: we are ‘scapegoating’ the individual.

Human beings have used this as a way of getting rid of unpleasant feelings for thousands of years. But it is inappropriate and it doesn’t make the situation any better.

This complex mis-blink is likely to contain a mix of all the other mis-blinks:

  • a value judgment (of the person)
  • an attachment (to the outcome that didn’t happen)
  • blinkered thinking (that the failure to get the outcome we wanted is somehow “the end of the world”)
  • expectation (that it ‘should‘ have turned out differently from the way it did) and assumption (that it was going to)
  • mistaking feelings for truth (imagining that someone else has caused our feelings)
    and perhaps even
  • dependency (for the actions that we ourselves didn’t take, which might have led to a different outcome).

All of this makes scapegoating a great way for us to dump or project our emotions on to another person and make us feel better. But it doesn’t improve the situation.

Better, instead, to manage our own emotions and make clearer sense of what has happened. Use the tools of Chapter 1 of Inner Leadership to centre and ground ourselves and the people around us. Then use the tools of Chapter 2 to make clearer sense of what is real, what is imagined, and how to learn from what has happened.

Then we can identity the only two things that really matter: what we will (all) do differently next time and what we will do now to move forward.

How often do you hear the people around you (for example in the media) asking “Who is to blame?” How often does this approach lead to positive change and improved results?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building emotional engagement and inspiration during times of change.

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