The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Contribution and blame

A theme that reappears regularly in my practice is the client’s desire to pinpoint responsibility. It may be that something feels uncomfortable, that something didn’t work out, or that there is something one tries to resist. Often, the link with a sense of personal dread appears as a somewhat unconscious motivator of this desire.

The resulting behavior leads to searching for someone who can be blamed, either oneself or others. Strangely, there is comfort in being able to say that the responsibility is located in one place, blaming oneself or someone else. It might be reassuring to know that one may be able to change things if it is one’s responsibility. And there might be power in seeing the problem elsewhere and thus delegating to change things.

What is less comfortable is to acknowledge one’s contribution to a problem or situation and need the other person to cooperate to be able to solve the problem together or transform the situation.

It requires a specific state of mind to acknowledge one’s contribution. It’s a state of mind that allows one to learn without needing to take the cause of the learning personally. It is a state of mind that is based on generosity, towards others as well as towards oneself. It is a state of mind based on being open and curious in the desire to understand the problem or accept the situation.

It involves the ability to be part of a team and to engage in a team. And it is the willingness to accept responsibility for whatever happened even though one doesn’t see a reason to feel guilty. Also, although the trust one invested doesn’t seem to have materialized.




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