The concept of blame deals with not taking responsibility or ownership of our actions and intentions.
Blame is an excellent defense mechanism. Whether we call it projection, denial (“I didn’t do it!”) or displacement, blame helps preserve our sense of self-esteem by avoiding awareness of our own flaws or failings (shadow material).
It’s often easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility. There is less effort (at least until we get better practiced at becoming humble and taking responsibility) involved in recognizing our contributions to a situation than in accepting the fact that we are actually at fault.
Further, along with accepting the responsibility comes the increased awareness and efforts to then change the behaviour so it does not happen again (or less often). ‘More work’ (says ego) and thus, it is more efficient (at least it initially seems) not to take responsibility.
Depending on the degree of this defense, blame can result in more of an attack, falling into the category of an unhealthy conflict resolution technique where we try to actually verbally hurt others (with the blame).
Another ‘easy way out’ reason that people don’t take responsibility is that people lie. It can be relatively easy just to lie and blame someone else even though you know you’re at fault. This is especially true when the chance of the truth not being discovered is high. One does not even have to name someone else, merely saying “It wasn’t me,” suggests that it was someone else.
With the extreme inability to take responsibility (and thus, extremely likely to blame) comes the narcissist who, in their own eyes, can do no wrong. Everything wrong that happens around or to them, whether their own fault or not, is immediately blamed on other people. There exists an unwillingness to see any part they may play in the issue or incident. Denial is rampant!
Further, gaslighting occurs when the blamer turns the story around to make it seem like others are at fault, attempting to make others feel guilty (emotional manipulation).
When there is no one who could have conceivably caused the situation, we may blame fate or God/higher power. We may feel that we are being tested or even punished. Be careful, as this may reinforce the victim, ‘poor me’ stance that blaming often places one in. Does there need to be any blame at all?
Be on the lookout for the fundamental attribution effect. This shows up when we excuse ourselves for the same unbecoming behavior that we blame others for doing. We attribute or blame others’ behaviour to internal personality traits (e.g., laziness when a nail is left on their driveway resulting in a flat tire) while attributing our own behaviour to external or situational factors (e.g., the wind blew the nail onto our driveway or “I was so busy doing something else.”).
We’ll end with a question to ponder: Does there really have to be any fault or blame (in certain circumstances)?
“He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey.
He who blames himself is halfway there.
He who blames no one has arrived.” Chinese Proverb