The following is a guest post from Deb Wunder (who comments here as Otherdeb). She is a published short story writer from Brooklyn, and has a blog called The Dangling Conversation. She also makes beaded jewelry and knits (and apparently is pretty good at it, since she takes commissions for both), reads anything she can get her hands on, and gets paid to keep a high school cafeteria under control ten months a year. She is between half and three quarters of the way to becoming debt-free.
When things go wrong, it seems natural to try to cover your rear end. In fact, in most offices, the game of CYA has been elevated to an art form. However, many folks often try to carry it over to other areas of their lives, which is where it falls apart.
The worst time to play the blame game is when you are trying to eliminate debt and clean up your act. This is a process that demands your honesty, and your willingness to stop blaming and making excuses.
For one thing, while almost all of your friends would help you out once or twice, no one wants to hear your pleas for them to bail you out over and over again. In fact, by the third or fourth time, most of them will be wondering whether your tales of woe are even true.
For example, my ex has bailed me out repeatedly for a very long time. Even as he growled about all my excuses, he helped. When I got my wake-up call four years ago, and stopped lying to myself and others about money, he – quite naturally – didn’t believe my promises to reform. See, he’d heard them all before, along with all my excuses for needing help.
Well, I still owed him a lot of money, but I had been doing a lot better at keeping my word to him. So, four years later (about a month ago), based on the fact that I was now keeping my word, he put a bill on his credit card for me, with the agreement I would pay him back from my next paycheck. This would have been fine, except my roommate got scammed to the tune of $2,000, and all of a sudden, my next paycheck was needed to keep a roof over our heads.
I knew that this was going to be rough, but I called my ex and told him the situation, and when I would have his money. All the years I had made excuses bit me on the tush at that point, and I sat there and listened while he yelled at me about how I was reverting to my old behavior. Four years of trust-building was destroyed in about five minutes, because of all the times I had made excuses over the years. He eventually talked with my roommate and found out that I was, indeed, not making an excuse, but the damage was done. I did repay him from my next check, but I now have four years of work to redo. (He did give me credit for calling him immediately, and not waiting until the day I was supposed to pay him back.)
Blaming Only Makes Things Worse
Further, blaming others does nothing to rectify the problem; in fact, it exacerbates it. If you keep blaming others, you never get to look at what you are doing to cause the situations you find yourself in, so you never find real ways to fix them.
My roommate has had to be bailed out over and over again regarding her finances. Each time she swears she will do better, and about six months down the road she messes up again. And every time she messes up it’s a bit worse. Her mother, her best friend, and I have all had to deal with this. In fact, the time that served as my wake-up call was when she lied to her mother and her best friend and told them I was bullying her into paying most of my share of the rent. I never would have known this was going on, except that her best friend threw that little tidbit in my face out of the clear blue sky after my roommate had bounced a huge check on her mother. At that point, the three of us started comparing notes, and found out that we all had been bailing her out over the years.
Even that wasn’t enough to stop her blaming everyone but herself for her problems. The result: Last month I got a call from her mother, who was finally exhausted from my roommate’s excuses, saying that she would no longer be able to write out the rent check for us (she wrote the rent checks to the landlord who had tired of my roommate’s excuses and had been going to evict her until her mother offered to write the checks). I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for her mother to make that decision. Yet even her mom finally got tired of her excuses.
The bottom line: blaming others not only does not fix the problem, it exacerbates it. It is nothing more than a mechanism for avoiding taking responsibility for the choices and decisions you make in life. And it will, sooner or later, backfire on you every time.
Come back tomorrow for Deb’s tips on getting out of The Blame Game.