After years of close observation, I have come to the firm conclusion that human-kind can be classified into two distinct groups. There are those who blame the whole world for the mess they and their lives are in. I am not to blame, the world is the culprit. I have done no wrong, the world has wronged me. Sample these:
Son to father: “Papa, I am always so quiet in the class, but for some reason, this teacher always picks on me and punishes me”. (Papa has been hearing this for many years, across classes and across teachers. The situation- and the excuses- remain the same.)
Husband to wife: “If you had only left me alone to pursue my passions I would have had a more successful career.” (The passions being golf, bridge and the frequent boozing sessions with buddies)
Wife to husband: “If you had only left me alone to pursue my passions I would have been a happier woman.” (Happiness as in unlimited use of the debit and credit cards, unending shopping, and
Subordinate to boss: “If only my subordinates did their jobs, the company’s performance would not have been this bad.” (The subordinate does not remember to mention that his job is to ensure that his subordinates do their jobs properly.)
Losing politician to the press: I did all what was good for my constituency. But the opposition gave it all a different spin in the campaign. Hence I lost. (The neta should know that along with doing his so-called good job, he also has to communicate it to his constituents- if he has done any. In this case he has probably not done anything great.)
Flop movie producer to anyone who cares to listen: We made a great film, but I suppose it was too early for its times, the audience just could not take it. (Then why the hell did you inflict it upon the public?)
This list can be endless, I will stop here now. I hope you get the picture. There is a whole army of people ready to blame everyone else when things do not go the way they think they ought to have been. These losers, who continue to indulge in games of blames whenever things go wrong. They just can’t seem to realize that they could be in the wrong too. They have been lazy, careless, insensitive, unplanned, biased etc etc. They could not think well, they could not strategize well, they could not manoeuver well, they could not communicate well. Maybe they do realize, but they think that their repeated woes of lament will cover up for their deficiencies.
And then there is the other half of the population; they keep blaming themselves for all the ills in the world. Sample these:
Wife to husband: “I have been a bad mother, no wonder our son eloped with that girl. (Mother dearest, why don’t you admit that it was your stubborn persistence trying to prevent your son from marrying a girl of his choice just because she was from another caste. And thank yourselves for being in good mother that he chose a wonderful girl, bad mothering could have had some pretty bad consequences)
(Incidentally, Hindi movies are filled with such mothers, always accepting blames on themselves.)
Subordiante to peer: I goofed it, my boss gave me such clear instructions. (the subordinate forgets the boss gave her/him impossible timelines)
Girlfriend to boyfriend: Sorry darling, I wish I was a little bit more understanding. (Like ignoring his addiction to drugs, soccer, whoring, in that order)
There are so many others of this ilk, let me not bore you; I am sure you got the idea.
So there are externalizers and there are internalizers. Each takes great delight in doing what they always do, externalize or internalize a problem. Rare is the individual who takes an objective view of the goings-on and adopts a rational view. For them it is a “me-versus-them”, never “me-and-them” or “neither-me-and-them”. I am no psychologist but I would love to know what dictates these personalities. Why do they behave the way they do. The psychologists talk about flight-or-fight responses to adversities. Perhaps this applies here too.
Fighters are externalizers, they want to fight with the rest of the environment to absolve them of the lapse.
Fliers are internalizers, they want to escape from the issue at hand, they do not want to confront it. The attitude is, “Ok, I am the culprit, all blames on me. Now let us do not analyze this further, your search ends here, with me; do not probe any further.”
I do not have the answers, but I will end this piece with a classic “externalizer” story. I have known this dear friend of mine for the last twenty five years. A highly successful guy in his career and personal life. But a huge “externalizer”. Like this episode. Let us call him M.
“Hey M, why are you late for the tennis practice?”
“You know what, my shorts did not have pockets.” M deadpans.
“What does apparel have to do with your tennis game?”
M gets into a very detailed explanation of this in all earnest.
“You know what, I got into the bus even before time. I was on the bus for ten minutes and then the bus conductor asked me for money. I slipped my hand into my shorts pocket and guess what, there was no pocket!! I was wearing shorts without pockets, so no money! Now, what do I do..! I had to get off at the next bus-stop, trudge back home, get some money and then another bus. And hence, now you see, I was late.