Blame vs Responsibility

This summer I put out a free course called Strategic Sorcery for the Financially Stuck. In it the first point that I made was the difference between blame and responsibility, because a lot of people I talk to are getting hung up on it. I had to cover this again for a client today and so thought maybe it deserved its own post.

I started to realize how people were confusing these two concepts when I read a review of a Tony Robbins documentary that criticized self help because it…. “distracts its adherents from their actual material conditions, allowing them to misattribute both successes and failures to their juju rather than the intersection of their privileges or oppressions.”

Think about this a second and realize how fucked this is.

The person that wrote this believes that your actions have no effect on your circumstance, and that even trying to fucking improve your lot in life distracts you from your lack of privilege and other oppression.  God forbid we not spend all our energy on things we have no control over.

Now, lets be clear here, I absolutely believe that privilege is real. In fact there are always all manner of circumstances of birth, genetics, environment, and you name it that give privilege or disadvantage in our society. When working on societal problems, these are things that we must address. But if you are trying to better your own life, you have to make whatever changes and moves you can. This is where the difference between blame and responsibility comes in.

Blame is about the past and the reasons that you are where you are.
Responsibility is about the future and who is going to move forward.

In my opinion there are so many factors that program people from the start that I have a hard time blaming anyone for their circumstance. I am gonna go ahead and say it: You are not to blame. You are however entirely responsible.

You are responsible because no one else is. No one else is gonna do it for you. In fact the little safety net we had for people who truly cannot do for themselves is slipping away fast – but thats a whole other story. You are responsible. You.

The day you take responsibility is the day you take your life back from the forces you have no control over. Don’t get me wrong, you still have the same circumstances, the same intersection of privilege and oppression you always had – but you will own your JUJU and start seeing a lot more success than failure.

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Robin Wildheart

Wonderful article! The way you explored blame and responsibility was great. I just wish our society would start to glorify personal empowerment through responsibility the way it has victimhood. Thank you for writing this. Great food for self-examination.


    See the thing is that advice for the individual is very different from advice for society at large. An individual must focus on personal achievement because they have no direct control over society at large.

    But when dealing with Societies problems through governance, activism, or any shade in between we HAVE to focus on the root cause of oppression and victimhood.

    I can tell my daughter to learn Ju-Jitsu as a defense against getting raped – but looking at that as a solution to the problem of campus rape for the country is unreasonable and places all the burden on the victim.

    I can tell my friend to look for the financial opportunities he has, and take every chance to get ahead – but “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is a shitty answer for city or country-wide poverty where there are very real factors keeping people locked in those cycles.

    It is the difference between a single person escaping their situation, vs leading a movement to end that situation entirely. A single person cannot and should not wait for society – but that doesnt meant that people should stop working at the societal level.

Nenad Ristic

My understanding of Blame and Responsibility is similar, but I see responsibility as being more present based, as in what can I do now to increase the probability of getting the situation I want? I also think that it is possible to take responsibility for your own actions, but impossible to insist others be responsible for theirs.


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