This stren identifies the first of the eight mental choices available to our will power to transform information into action. I label this first alternative “Blaming-out” because we direct energy to punish some “other,” a person(s), situation, or object, when we experience frustration.
Blaming-out is the most primitive, common, and easy to identify mental action pattern. The blaming-out response is so instinctively preprogrammed into our mental action pathways that it pops up virtually automatically and effortlessly. Blaming-out is easy to recognize because it conforms to the following “a + b” sentence:
(a) He (she, they, it, the world, God, etc.) did what he should not have done, or He did not do what he should have done, and therefore,
(b) he deserves punishment.
The blaming formula leads to a common action pathway: Someone or something is deserving of harm because an expectation was not met. The expectation may or may not be reasonable. Common sense intelligence, by itself, is usually not sufficient to overcome the powerful emotion that instinct links to the blaming-out harmful aggression response. This is why earlier strens emphasize the self-endorsement skills that empower us to attach emotion to intellect.
I consider blaming out the most popular of our eight choices for several reasons:
- The fight part of the innate “fight or flight” instinct that nature pre-wires in each of us is among our most persistent survival skills. Animals and our early ancestors, living in a savage environment, needed to be automatically prepared to instantly fight or run. In a relatively civil society, however, physical aggression is usually punished. The most ready substitute for our innate reaction to physically strike out, which is no longer acceptable, is mental aggression, some form of blaming. As intelligent individuals, we soon learn that blaming others is a more tolerated, less often punished, and sometimes even a rewarded substitute for physical aggression.
- In our society, blaming others has come to be the way we persuade others to support our instinct for harmful aggression. Attributing our frustration to an outside evil, bad, blameworthy source is an effective means to get others to carry out our destructive instinct.
- In addition to instinct’s natural bias to strike out, as we acquire intelligence we also learn that blaming others is a fabulous excuse to avoid punishment for our own unacceptable acts.
- Through our immature “magic” years when we are helpless and dependent, things just happen! We come to believe that whatever we experience is due to someone or something other than our self. When we experience frustration, we naturally conclude “some other didn’t do what should have been done.” Once we get into the habit of blaming our frustration as the failure of some “other,” emotion sustains this way of thinking. Even when our intellect is sufficiently mature to tell us we are no longer helpless, that we need to take responsibility for our well-being, blaming persists because emotion trumps intellect. How often do we choose to do what is emotionally satisfying at the moment even though we know through common sense that alternative action would provide greater long-term benefit?
- The most palpable evidence that blaming-out is the most common of our mental choices is direct observation of current events. Simply listen to the news or read the paper. Nations, governments, religions, and neighbors persistently blame one another. Yes, there is lots of evidence of common sense action for shared benefits, but we have yet to make common sense sufficiently common to elevate our society to sustain peaceful win/win cooperation. Too many too often remain stuck favoring instinct’s prewired blaming-out action pathway.
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