I love to cook, but I don't enjoy making
pancakes. I can cook all sorts
of pasta dishes. I enjoy playing with exotic
vegetables, but pancakes
are irritating. My wife does them.
One day I was stacking pancakes and thinking
about fixing blame and
nurturing resentments. It dawned on me that blame
is kind of like a
single pancake. If you're smart you eat it and
get done with it.
Resentment on the other hand is like keeping a
stack of pancakes
around. We take the individual events that we
blame people for and then
stack them. Every time we add another flapjack to
the pile the
resentment grows. Stacked resentment is how we
build those lists of
items that we resent about people.
Blame is a character flaw that can be saved,
transformed and recycled.
It turns quickly into resentment. When you act
out on blame and
resentment, trying to pay back the other person,
you experience or
In my upcoming book, Flawless! I discuss a
lithograph hanging in my
writing studio. It shows Yama-Saburo, a young
samurai going off to
avenge the death of his father. Most societies
have myths that describe
the avenging of an injustice as duty. For
Yama-Saburo, who's father had
been unjustly murdered, it was his duty to avenge
For most of us, blame, resentment and the
eventual vengence are
If payback is a b... is blame really useful?
You bet it is. Blame is a way of holding people
uses it, and very often it is appropriate. What
makes it a character
flaw is when it is used to avoid punishment for
something we have done
because we fear punishment. It is a flaw when we
use it to hurt others
because we want to avoid accountability. Often it
is worse than that.
We use the flaw to feel superior.
How about those people who beg forgiveness when
they do something wrong
and yet criticize and punish others for the same
offenses, don't they
just frost you? They are never the blame for
anything. Blame surfaces
anytime you have adolescent thinking. Of course
they never grew up
A colleague of mine at NYU used to say that
adolescence should be a
diagnosis, especially if you are an adult acting
like one. It should
have a special name like adult adolescent
thinking disorder. They
justifying what they did wrong by blaming someone
else. They don't
want responsibility when things go wrong, yet
they always seek
recognition when things go right. Blame is a way
for them to salvage
self-esteem because they only feel good when
things go right. "It's not
my fault," is one of their mantras. Being at
fault feel threatening and
dangerous, perhaps because at some time in the
past it actually was.
What causes blame?
There must be some sort of universal desire to be
innocent. Just watch
people who are accused of wrong doing but aren't
adult enough to be able
to accept responsibility for their actions. For
some it is easier to be
angry at someone else rather than oneself so they
create resentment and
ill-will through blame. That gets the ball
rolling. If they are good
at blame people will believe them. They feel
relieved and it's easier
to do next time.
"Judge not and you shall not be judged.
Condemn not and you shall not
Blamers desperately try to avoid being judged and
will judge you so that
you don't judge them. These are the people who go
on the offensive to
take the heat off themselves. If the person is
cleaver he will get you
to judge yourself or someone else, and in the
process sidetrack you from
One method for doing this is to whine and
complain about how
incompetent he was. The two universal excuses is
I am not competent by
nature or you didn't train me properly. I'll
cover that in greater
detail when we cover inadequacy.
How about people who blame because they are
addicted to praise. People
who suffer from Self-regard Run Riot often use
blame when they are
getting their fix of praise.
Now back to those pancakes. There are some people
who are really good
at stacking resentment. I call them
"stackers." They love to use their
great memories to remember all the times that you
were at fault. They
keep an inventory for you. Interestingly enough
all the pain and
resentment in the stack flows together, but the
winds up being the worse pain of the whole bunch.
When a stacker needs
you to feel their pain and feel guilty they
dredge up the old pain.
"Thar she blows," Moby Dick by
She really blew her stack! You know it when you
see it. Stacked
resentments are used as an excuse for Raging
indignation. It is almost
always a minor event that triggers a major
explosion. Worse yet it's
not you who did anything, but someone else and
they resent you too, so
they vomit their venom on you because you were
These blamers usually grew up in an environment
that was punishing and
not geared toward solutions. The grew up in the
households devoid of
hope and joy, but filled with despair and blame.
It may have protected
them as children, but blame robs them of their
joy in their adult lives.
Because blamers are vengeful they often harm
themselves when it
backfires. Vengeance is like that. They are
trying to fix the blame
and not the problem. They wind up creating bigger
They weren't looking for a solution, they were
looking for a scapegoat.
Blame needs a scapegoat, because his goal is
praise even when he has
failed at something. They are not looking for
solutions, but ways of
handling being a victim and dealing with the
rejection that thing being
wrong brings. They really enjoy scapegoating
because blamers gloat over
failure when they can blame someone for it.
The character defect of blame develops into
chronic resentment almost
imperceptibly. It just sort of happens. We don't
notice where it
began, because we are in denial that we use it.
That is why it is so
important to look at what the resentment
How do you tell if it is the present situation or
It may look like little issues trigger
resentments. The amount of
energy expended is a clue, however, that it's
something bigger, usually
from a person's past.
Blame is the great mirror to the soul. The life
energy is in a gordion
knot. Watch what a person is constantly blaming
others for and you will
get a glimpse of what his life's energy is
Next time I'll be back with how resentments are
used, followed by an
article on responsibility. We don't have a lot of
accountability in our
society. It's high time we started practicing it.
I don't blame you. I want to fix the problem, not