In Employee, Return to Work

The effect of blame on our recovery

Like guilt being an unhelpful emotion, blame can be an unhelpful action.

As a return to work professional I come across many barriers that prevent people from returning to work.  These barriers can include anything from pain and lack of knowledge and understanding right through to blame. Beyond Mechanical Pain, in their article ‘The blame Game’ describe some people as carrying their story of blame around with them like a big heavy suitcase containing all of the agony, gloom and hardship that has gone hand in hand with their injury since the accident. It is not hard to see this anger and blame spill out of their full suitcase causing a massive roadblock in their recovery. In WorkCover it is usually the boss who doesn’t care about safety, or who overworks their workers or gave them the unfair roster. This is very common, and whilst blame is completely understandable and often an engrained approach in many, it also unhelpful and is often the biggest barrier in someone’s return to work.

We are all guilty of blame especially when we aren’t happy with a situation. We blame the weather as our reason for not exercising, we blame pregnancy and childbirth for our excess weight, we blame our partner for our bad mood, and we blame our boss for our workplace injury. This is normal but staying in a place of blame for too long can have a detrimental effect. Blame hands over power, and ultimately keeps us in a place of despair. As justified as this blame may be, as you may well be the victim of a terrible workplace accident, being in a constant place of blame is not going to help you in the long run. Blame can often cause people to retaliate by doing nothing which isn’t going to get you want you want or to where you want to be, all it is doing is holding you back.

Psychology Today say that blame gives us the illusion that everything gets corrected by identifying the culpable party and then punishing that party. Blame gives the illusion of doing something, which ultimately is a form of giving power away because when we blame, the only person with any power to change the situation is the other person. The quickest and most effective way to regain this power is to take full responsibility of the actual truth of the situation, then use this truth as a vehicle to move forward and push through the barrier of blame.

One simple yet very effective way of realising the truth of a situation is to go back and journal about the experience but making sure to keep the focus on yourself and your own actions. Look for the positive things that you have done and continue to do throughout your recovery then build on these. It could be that you are consistently doing your home-based exercise program, or you have swapped your afternoon cupcake for a banana, or you have increased from a 2kg lifting capacity to a 5kg lifting capacity. Keep the focus on yourself, as soon as you realise your focus has shifted from yourself to your boss or workplace or whoever you were previously blaming, bring this focus back to yourself and the positive steps you are taking.

Once you have learnt to shift your focus away from blame and towards yourself and the positive steps you are taking towards your return to work and recovery you will be amazed at the positive flow on effect this will have. Regaining your power will be the best gift you can yourself.


For more help with overcoming return to work barriers go to or get in touch with me at

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Posted on September 26, 2020

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