Post Mortem

The toxicity of blame

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/10/2020 12:52:51 PM IST

 The word ‘blame’ is not a stranger to the ears. Though it sounds like a marvel comic character it’s not. You must have heard people talk about it, know someone who is prone to blame. It is actually widespread and contagious like a virus; it becomes a habit. Its origin is seen early in childhood. Have you ever witnessed adults blaming inanimate objects like the ground, table, chairs, in order to sooth a crying child and the next moment you notice he/she is laughing and playing? Somehow deflecting the child’s anger and frustration onto the inanimate object tends to give him/her pleasure which is evident by the change in his/her behaviour and emotion. Similarly in order to avoid punishment or the consequences of one’s action one may indulge in blaming siblings, friends, teachers, subject’s like maths, science, and even pet. But when the child notices that the adult in-charge is upset it becomes a natural response, because when one sees and feels that there is a real threat, what would he/she do? Definitely fabricate a varied number of excuses to make sure that it’s not his/her fault, to escape any kind of punishment. In both cases it’s not about what is right and wrong, which is better but the outcome produced by the act of transferring his/her unpleasant feelings of fear, helplessness and hurt on to inanimate objects or person that makes him/her experience a sense of release and relief.  So when the act of blaming is carried out constantly in different environmental situations and the connection of a network of neurons in our brain strengthens making our brain believe this habit is important. Its starts running subconsciously so when we are faced with anything that is unpleasant and discomforting. Automatically we use blaming as a defence mechanism and the release of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter a chemical in our brain creates a good experience feeling. This reward makes us do it over and over again. Maybe this is the reason why a lot of us must have blamed the virus at the beginning of the pandemic because blaming is simply discharging our unconscious anxieties, pain and discomforts. So it is not causal that we blame anything and everything like the traffic, the weather, people in our lives, the system, laziness, circumstances and institutions for our despondency, failures, stagnation or behaviour. It just doesn’t stop there but also when something goes wrong we are busy trying to connect the dots to figure out whose fault it is so to shift the blame on the whole family, community, religion, a political party, God, the devil or anything we can get our grasp on. We are definitely entrapped in this shifting culture of blame. This collective inability to look at the individual’s deeds separate from the group is clearly unhealthy enmeshment and dysfunctional. So despite these patterns of behaviour raising concerns for our mental wellbeing as it is toxic, corrosive and divisive for the fabric of any human relationship, we continue to do it because our brain is an energy consuming organ which needs time and energy to create a new neural pathway for a healthier habit to substitute the older unhealthy one. Taking on a new task is always a challenge until and unless we don’t have an option or are utterly motivated to bring about a change. So we slip back to our familiar ways which is easier though it means feeling like we are a victim controlled by our environment, complaining about everything that’s wrong in our lives and everything stays the same. So clearly blaming becomes a trap or an illusion that binds us to stay stuck in a loop.  Even though it’s valid to express ourselves because our external world right now is honestly hard on us with people in position not taking responsibilities, unemployment, entanglement in families’ dynamics, poor infrastructure and many more drawbacks. But also we are aware that life is not designed to make us happy all the time but a lot of times is filled with tragedy, injustice, unfairness and all sort of obstacles yet it’s our moral obligation to face these challenges. So even if our external reality is arbitrary and affects our inner world it is because they are inter-connected and dependent. We are only in-control of our contributions to our outer and inner reality and everything that is outside is beyond our grasp. Thus in the pursuit of a meaningful life we cannot choose to become collectors of what is beyond our boundaries because whether we like it or not the fact is our external world will continue to occur even when we are gone. So the antidote is to respond and act not in ways that will provide us temporary comfort and result in a victim’s attitude but to become self aware, reflect on our actions and accept accountability which is absolutely lethal for blame to survive, it is the opposite of how blame functions because it is about taking responsibility for “the whole self” Also holding people to accept accountability is a matured thing to do. Thus guiding us to understand our disorderly external world with empathy and comprehension allows us to take our power and control back and use it. We just have to remind ourselves that we are not the mighty ocean but the drop of water which creates the mighty ocean.

Temsumenla, Counselling Psychologist, 

Member (ANCA)

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