I feel like this is a really important one, because it can be so tempting to blame someone else at times when deep down you know you were at fault. There’s a big emphasis in Western society on rising through the ranks, getting that next promotion, which means we can get that new car, which means our status will go up, and so on…
This drive that becomes engrained in us isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does engender a very competitive mindset. If you want the promotion, but everyone else on your team is also gunning for it, then you’re inevitably pitted against each other.
The trouble with this is it means that when things go wrong, we’re much less likely to want to accept ownership for the mistake, because it makes us appear weaker than our colleagues, friends, family, etc. - whoever it is that we’re looking to impress.
I think once we remove any sense of ego, then it’s a lot easier to be willing to hold your hands up and say, ‘Okay, I dropped the ball. But I’ll do better next time’. Because if we’re not willing to accept that we’ve made a mistake, then how can we possible learn from that mistake so that we don’t make it again?
Nobody likes to mess up, and trust me, whenever I was playing on a football or cricket team, it was my worst nightmare to make a mistake. So if there was a way out through covering up and pretending I hadn’t made that mistake, then I would take that way out hands down.
But, as you can imagine, eventually you’re going to get found out. I keep linking specific teachings to ones that have already been covered, and this is because they’re all interwoven, and some of them you can’t accomplish without having already learnt a previous lesson.
This idea of accepting your contribution to a problem is tied in with the teaching of compassion, because if you’re cultivating a truly loving and compassionate attitude towards others, then you wouldn’t ever be willing to blame someone for something you did wrong.
It’s also linked with the teaching of acceptance, because it involves accepting ownership of your mistake. Equally, if you adhere to the teaching of treating human nature as compassionate, then you’ll be more trusting of others, and you won’t fear that there might be judgment or a negative reaction to you admitting that you made a mistake.
“When I dance alone, and the sun's bleeding down, blame it on me”
Today’s song is ‘Blame it On Me’ by George Ezra, and from the title alone it’s clear I haven’t gone for subtlety with this one!
“When I lose control and the veil's overused, blame it on me”
Ezra rattles through various cryptic ways that he messes up in some shape or form, but he punctuates each one by saying ‘blame it on me’. When I listen to it, the repetition of this acts as a kind of mantra in my head, and reaffirms the idea of taking ownership of our mistakes as Ezra is doing.
“We counted all our reasons, excuses that we made, we found ourselves some treasure, and threw it all away”
Here he sings about how he has been making excuses and trying to justify why he did what he did, being stuck in the mindset of not acknowledging the mistake. But in saying that he found treasure and threw it all away, it clearly signifies his about-turn, as he begins to realise that he can only blame himself.
“What’re you waiting for? What’re you waiting for?”
I think a middle way approach is important in practising this teaching, though, because we don’t want to swing too far in the opposite direction and start being overly critical of ourselves. While we should, according to the Dalai Lama, take blame where blame is due, it’s just as important to take credit where credit is due too.
This leads nicely onto tomorrow’s teaching…any guesses?