Blaming vs Thanking the Battle Rages On

thank you, gratitude, no blame, appreciationno blaming, quit blaming, the blame game, finger pointing, accusations

Blaming vs Thanking the Battle Rages On

Them or Thank Them…that is the question.

A few years ago I was supposed to go to China as a volunteer for a medical mission. I had submitted paperwork and had been approved by the organization coordinating the mission. I had worked hard to also get approval from my job to take vacation time for the mission. I had my passport and the appropriate visas for the trip. I had never been to China, was taking Chinese lessons and very excited about making the journey. Then I got the call. There was a change in the schedule and I was going to be needed at work; no longer available to go to China for the mission in two months. For about ten minutes I played a few rounds of the blame game. It started with the familiar “why me”. I had great intentions in doing the mission. I was going to help children. I was volunteering my time, volunteering my money, and volunteering my energy. Why did this happen? I created a blaming list…

Who’s to blame?

  • my boss,
  • my job,
  • the scheduler at work,
  • my coworker’s mother who was ill and needed attention leaving us short-staffed,
  • the anesthesiologist that we interviewed who didn’t accept the job also leaving us short-staffed,
  • my mortgage company; without whom I would not have a monthly bill and could take more time off work,
  • God, for not helping me achieve what I believed to be a worthwhile cause.
  • myself, for not trying hard enough to make it happen or maybe not wanting it bad enough
  • my mother because, well… just because


OK, so I quickly finished blaming and spent a few minutes feeling sorry for myself. Funny, I didn’t feel any better. I don’t want to live with regret, blaming myself and feeling badly when I feel as if I worked as hard as I could and did everything that I could think of to make that mission trip happen. I can blame God but it doesn’t change the situation or make me feel any better. I can blame my boss and my job but these opinions will not improve my feelings or attitude at work and that will negatively affect all my relationships at work. Ultimately negative attitudes by healthcare professionals lead to medical errors and increase potential for patient harm.

Other options? I want to feel happy. I want to feel good. But I can’t just fake it and pretend that the situation doesn’t bother me because it does. After I’ve given it my best effort and exhausted other alternatives to make it happen, I can’t spend my time blaming myself. I can however take a critical look at what transpired, including my role; in order to help me avoid similar occurrences in the future. This analysis will bring me from a far negative perspective closer to neutral ground. I may decide that I could have done much more to make the trip happen. This is not great news for the current mission trip; however, this is ultimately good news because I can use this information for future mission trips. So I’m moving in the right direction.

Still other options? I believe in purpose. I believe that while I may not always know or understand what my purpose is, that things will work out the way in which they are destined. If I believe that something should happen, I will do everything in my power to try to accomplish it. But after that, if it doesn’t happen, I don’t believe that it is beneficial to feel guilty or to blame myself or others. So when I was told that I couldn’t go to China and realized that there was no way that I was going to change that, I assumed that for some reason, this was the right path. I reasoned that either something was going to happen in China for which I should not be there or that something was going to happen at home that I would not want to miss. If it was going to be at home, then I would probably find out about it. However, if the incident was in China, I had to appreciate that I may never gain any knowledge of it. But I also knew that I would feel better knowing that my not being able to participate in that particular mission served a greater purpose or was for my own good. As I now feel much more positive about what has occurred, I had to change my Blame List to a Thank You list. Although I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to be good, I truly believed that all of the people on the list deserved (or would deserve) my gratitude.

Two months later, the mission was en route to China without me. I received a call from my mother telling me that my father was just taken into the hospital, was on a ventilator and didn’t have much time left; he had end-stage cancer. I immediately got a plane and flew to visit my father, spending a few very important days with him before he passed away.  Had I been on the mission trip I wouldn’t have been able to spend that time with him. I knew then that this was the reason for me not going to China.

My life has been blessed with many similar incidences; appearing on the surface to be negative and later, instead becoming easily identifiable as positive experiences. I believe that I am not special or unique in this way. These occurrences happen to each of us, often, and in many different ways. Our inability to appreciate these events is often the stimulus for blaming. It is not until we realize that what happened was actually for the best, that we stop blaming and complaining. Unfortunately, we rarely reflect back on the happenings and change our Blame List to a Thank List. The act of showing gratitude is associated with many physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness benefits. We each have a multitude of gratitude opportunities. Look for the potential positives in what you may initially deem as negative. Rather than blame the people that got you into that situation, thank the people that got you into that situation.

You can check out my new “blames to thanks blog on website and add your own stories.