Free Friday Therapy No. 11: Letting Go of Blame Brings Peace and Understanding

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.  Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.”  -Eckhart Tolle

I was driving north on Churn Creek Road in Enterprise, California approaching what is called the Four Corners at the Hartnell Avenue intersection.  This was back in the early 1990s and my mind was wandering as does when I don’t have any specific duties for it to perform.  As it wandered, it found something and offered it to me.  I accepted it with gratitude.  As I examined it carefully like a shiny, smooth stone one finds on the beach, it occurred to me that this gift could be useful.  I reverently packed it away and have relied on it ever since.

The offering was an idea, of course, the currency of the mind.  A powerful but simple idea, one that most people may already know but had never occurred to me before that moment.

It occurred to me that there was a direct connection between blame and understanding.  Like two sides of a coin, when you had one, the other was hidden, but always there.  If I blamed myself or someone I could not understand them.  If I understood myself or someone I could not blame them.

We always have that choice.  Our critical, judgmental, evaluative minds is constantly doing its job; liking this, loving that, deploring this, rejecting or resisting that, adoring this, condemning that.  That is its job and it does it well.  Walk down the street and watch it work.  It notices people and judges them.  They are tall or short, skinny or fat, young or old, attractive or ugly, dressed well or not, interesting or boring.  We might even form an opinion of them based on how they look or act or what we hear them say.

Same with cars, especially those with bumper stickers.  We might love or hate someone merely due to the words they have pasted on their bumper.  Our mood might even change because of those words.  Or we might not like how fast or slow they drive, or if we see them smoking a cigarette or talking on the phone while they drive.  The mind judges everything all the time.  It cannot stop.  And the more we judge, the less we understand.  They more we criticize, the less we accept.

It works the other way of course.  The more compassion we feel for others, the less we judge them.  The more empathy we develop for our fellow humans, the more we can enter into their world and see, feel and understand what they are experiencing.  We no longer judge them, hate them or blame them.  We understand and accept.  We “get” them.

I imagine a person who is spiritually enlightened no longer judges anyone or anything.  They see the world from all perspectives at once and understand why at this particular moment in this particular place this particular person thought, felt, said or did what he or she thought, felt, said or did.  They would completely understand, not judge.

To judge someone or something, we project our limited understanding onto another.  We think we know what they should have done or should be doing.  We picture how they are and we picture how they should be and we decide one is better.  Not only that, but we might decide this person is wrong or bad to say or do what they said or did.  We might think they should not have done it, that they had a choice and they chose wrong and it was personal.  It was against you and you cannot let it go.  At that moment, where is understanding?

You are right and they are wrong.  You are good and they are bad.  You are the victim and they deserve to be blamed.  They had no reason to do what they did, you decide.  At least not a good reason.  And therefore you have a right to be angry.  It isn’t fair you decide.  You end up falling in love with your truth or view of reality and decide that other views are wrong or bad.

But remember whose mind is telling you that.  Remember you could be wrong from another point of view.  Remember you only have one side of the truth and it is not the whole truth.

Always seek to understand.  Blaming self or others seldom brings us peace.

Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.

Douglas Craig
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 30 years. He believes in magic and is a Dawes fan.
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6 Responses

  1. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    I think I like the unruly, 1st grade monkey mind better. . .

  2. Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

    Thank you for another great article. My brain is continually involved in filtering and evaluating information, but I'm missing "critical and judgmental" part. I think being critical and judgmental about others is like a hobby that many people enjoy. People could try this trick…..when you really get on a roll about how awful someone looks say to yourself "But wasn't that woman just awarded the nobel peace prize in chemistry?"

  3. Avatar Doug Bennett says:

    Another insightful and compassionate article, thank you.

    I have to admit I sometimes am driven by a general anger that understanding doesn't seem to be able dissuade. I think a vague comprehension that somehow paradise has been stolen from us humans, and we have literally been given a lump of coal in its stead is responsible for that feeling. Do you think there is legitimate outrage and pain that comes with understanding the human situation on Earth today? Do you think their is a truly righteous way to act out in this world? And I mean righteous, not self-righteous.

    Save me a spot on the couch.

  4. Avatar Pamela says:

    This is a tough one, Doug C: to accept not judge. I love the idea; it is simply challenging to follow. I do read Eckhart Tolle every morning. I am trying. I think you had better save me a spot on that couch TOO!

  5. Avatar Sagan says:

    “Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy." -Eckhart Tolle

    To bad I was not familiar with this piece of nonsense as I was sitting in my car with broken neck, (when someone I chose to, broke my neck crashing into me).

    I worked with it (broke my own leg myself) made her my friend and ally which made me living in undying friendship and happiness with her ever since.

  6. Avatar Sagan says:

    Are you judging me for my good judgments ? do you think there are any people with proverbial good judgments ?

    Define judgments Douglas.

    Even if you would describe and differentiate: judgment, evaluation, opinion your article does not open any new nirvanas for me.

    Wow, now I see not only judging is unacceptable but blaming as well.

    "If I blamed myself or someone I could not understand them. If I understood myself or someone I could not blame them."

    The more I try to understand a child rapist the more above sentence seem nonsensical.

    For millions of years earthlings of all kinds tried to judge, blame, evaluate, opinionate their surrounding to survive, prosper, create, for the most part doing a great job of it.

    Now the society improvers are telling us that this has to change, because HATE, WARS they do not like, holocausts they do not like are looming, (as opposite to wars, holocausts they do not mind )

    "I imagine a person who is spiritually enlightened no longer judges anyone or anything. They see the world from all perspectives at once and understand why at this particular moment in this particular place this particular person thought, felt, said or did what he or she thought, felt, said or did. They would completely understand, not judge."

    Now I totally understand a child rapist and can not fathom a person who would not. Would I dare to judge or blame him/her ? I am enlightened now I would not do that.

    I now can understand, who can see the world from all perspectives at once: enlightened, Politically Correct Police.

    Nor would I judge ANYTHING, would I judge if a stove is hot before I burn myself ? no ! Would I judge the speed of my car before I crash ? no !

    Would I judge a person about to rob me ? no ! I will judge him as a person in need and will give him whatever he needs.

    Oh my God ! can I JUDGE him as person in need ? Douglas ?

    Are you to tell me which of my judgments are bad and which are good ?

    Or are you telling me that I can not evaluate, have an opinion anytime anywhere on anything ?

    Are you in agreement with the Media Society Improvers who told Americans long time ago that lily white neighborhoods and lily white people in general are shameful ? that one national language adopted by lawmakers will lead to Nazism so we will have as many as it takes ? that functional national border is bad ,unfriendly, nationalistic, on its way to fascism ? That Christmas greetings should be banned in favor of Holiday because 10 out of 313 people would be offended ?

    "To judge someone or something, we project our limited understanding onto another. We think we know what they should have done or should be doing. We picture how they are and we picture how they should be and we decide one is better. Not only that, but we might decide this person is wrong or bad to say or do what they said or did. We might think they should not have done it, that they had a choice and they chose wrong and it was personal. It was against you and you cannot let it go. At that moment, where is understanding?"

    At that moment where is common sense Douglas ? What you're describing is MORALITY, it served cultures of people for thousands of years very well thank you, of course until Political Correctness era in USA, (elsewhere known as ten sadistic mayhem movies in every pot era, I mean in every household)

    God save societies where good and bad is beyond reach of people's judgment.

    One way to subjugate populous is to disorient them, to take away ability,will to judge bad or good and instead to TELL them what is good or bad.

    My hope is that there are not enough feeble minded people to sign up for their own demise.