There Is Always Someone Else to Blame

Last week I had to take Molly to the vet. He’s been my cat for almost seventeen years now. That’s half the time I’ve been alive. If you’re like more than half the people my age, 34, you also own a cat and know how difficult a trip to the vet can be; Especially when they’re that old. I can only hope you don’t leave the veterinarian’s office in a homicidal rage after it’s all said and done because that’s what I did. Molly is fine, but if my sister goes missing, those of you reading this will know why.


But first, if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s this: In our minds, there’s always someone else to blame. It’s rare that we point the finger at ourselves, and it’s rarer still that we openly admit to the problems we’ve caused and apologize for them. It’s way more convenient to blame someone else and pass the buck. Especially now while we’re all worshipping at the altar of data. Sure, the company isn’t bringing in revenue, but that’s because big data said to put our money and resources into Facebook advertising because we can at least measure that, and big data is never wrong. (Spoiler Alert: It often is.)


Here’s what happened to Molly: On one of his many adventures into the dark realm of misery and despair (also known as “the basement”), he cut his foot on some broken glass that had been left unattended. Nobody knew the glass was there, and when he was discovered with a bleeding paw, my sister was quick to suggest that it was my fault the cat had cut his paw. She claimed I had used a hilariously sharp knife to cut a bagel, and left the knife in the sink where Molly is known to play. First of all, I don’t know who is cutting their bagels open with a butcher’s knife, or something with the same equivalence in sharpness, but you should probably not do that. Second, I’ve never once left a knife behind in any sink anywhere on this planet because I suffer from OCD, and leaving things unclean and unattended to is the exact opposite of what it’s like to have OCD. OCD is a mental illness that compels you to clean, even if you don’t want to.


In bringing Molly to the vet, and after making sure to have spread this bit of fake news around the family, my sister let the truth slip out. She found broken glass in the basement, and instead of cleaning it up, she just swept it under a dresser that’s been down there for what seems like a small eternity. When I asked her why she didn’t pick up the glass, she responded that she didn’t want to cut herself. It was at this point I felt my blood pressure begin to boil. “You can use a broom and a dustpan,” I told her, to which she just shrugged her shoulders and made another excuse, saying she can’t afford to get cut. $164 later, Molly was fixed up, and only I knew the truth about what had happened. The wound he suffered was pretty severe, and at his age, it’s not the kind of thing you want to happen. It’s sort of like when a ninety-one-year-old man falls and breaks his hip, only to die a few months later because of a cold. In other words, after you’re eighty, the wheels fall off the bus quickly, and the same is true for pets. To add insult to injury, my sister insisted everyone chip in for the bill despite being the responsible party for what happened to the cat.


I wish I could tell you that this was an isolated incident with my sister, but my family consists of professional liars. It’s never their fault. There’s always someone else to blame. If you’re fortunate, you grew up in a more regular environment than I did. But you don’t need to come from a dysfunctional environment to experience the blame game. As pointed out by Dr. Robert Feldman, author of “The Liar in Your Life,” everyone lies. And since we live with that universal truth, we also live with the fact that it’s way easier to blame someone else and hope no one notices like my sister did, than it is just to admit the truth.


Why You Should Always Accept The Blame


Few things in life are easy. Taking the blame, especially for something genuinely cataclysmic whether it’s at work or in life is one of the harder things you’ll have to do. As Dale Carnegie said in “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain— and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” These days, it can be a bit of a challenge to find good role models that do exactly that. Everyone lies. Everyone has some hustle they want to sell you on. Maybe not today, but certainly tomorrow, after you sign up for their email newsletter and ads begin to track you around the web to promote their services. I’m not without an agenda. I’m going to collect these essays and put them in an e-book to sell. Not because I’m greedy and want to profit from your self-improvement journey, but because I’d go broke if I don’t.


In spite of that, I want to encourage you always to take the blame for the things you did wrong in your life. For one, it’s healthy and life-affirming. You admit your mistake, and you can then immediately take steps to correct it without a heavy conscious that may otherwise impact your ability to get things done. I’m not kidding. Stress, guilt, and other harmful feelings have been proven time and again to keep people from getting the sleep they need. Stress also impacts your immune system, meaning that between the lack of sleep and susceptibility to colds and everything else under the sun, you’re going to be nowhere near as efficient as you could be. So why add to your troubles by shifting the blame to others?


But here’s the best part about accepting the blame that I want you to remember. Regardless of who you are, what you are, where you live, or anything else, we all have the opportunity to improve ourselves. If you can’t go to college, you can go to the bookstore. And if you can’t go to the bookstore, you can go to the library, and we have some beautiful libraries in this country that are going neglected and shouldn’t be. Accepting blame is the first step toward improving yourself because it generates an opportunity to learn something new. I learned that my sister is a filthy liar in this instance, but in other cases acknowledging my failures and accepting blame has developed into the intense study of things like Search Engine Optimization and Statistics. Both of which are skills I can now add to my repertoire and charge my clients more for knowing it. Accepting blame translated to making more money. It also translated into making me a better human too.

Photo Credit: Peter Vanderwalker/Scattergood Designs