[This post is part of a series on overcoming guilt and blame for good. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Two days ago I suggested that we all believe we don’t try to hurt others and therefore should give others the same benefit of the doubt, even if we feel hurt by them.
Yesterday I proposed a model that we all the the best we can, not just yourself.
Today I’ll combine those two ideas and suggest that if you were in someone else’s position and had their same perspective and abilities, you would do the same they would.
Being in another’s position is difficult to imagine — you also have to forget your position. If you think maybe because you know something they don’t or you can do something they can’t or vice versa that they did something wrong or sub-optimal, you haven’t gotten it yet.
if someone else did what you would have done and you do the best you can, how can you blame them for what they did?
Of course you’d like others to know what you know, but they can’t and they don’t. People blame you for things you wouldn’t have done if you had known different, but you know you don’t deserve it. The same thing goes in the other direction.
Any time you feel the urge to blame someone, consider that they are doing the best they can, they have different perspectives and abilities, and you would have done the same thing in their position.
The more you consider such things, the less you blame them (likewise, the less you accept others’ blame for your actions, which improves your life immeasurably). You did the best you could. No matter how much they try to blame you, you’ll recognize their perspective doesn’t apply. You may have to find ways to communicate that you understand their position even if you don’t agree — people blaming others often don’t like when the others don’t accept their blame.
Guilt is when you blame yourself or accept someone else’s blame. When you realize yourself in the past is like the other person, you realize you in the past did the best you could, had different perspectives and abilities, and would have done differently if you then had known what you now know.
Guilt and blame melt away with this model. Play with it as much as you like, make it your own.
That said, the model alone will only get you so far. Putting it into practice and experiencing rewarding emotions for beliefs and behavior without guilt or blame motivates you to maintain this model and behave accordingly, which I’ll cover in the next few days, gets you further.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book