Blame is built into the English language, and this affects us deeply, and silently.

If I drop my mother’s favourite china plate in the kitchen, in English we might say, “You dropped the plate!”


I live in Japan, and in Japanese we might instead say お皿が落ちた! – “The plate fell.”

It might seem trivial, but these differences in the way we describe everyday occurrences are very important for defining how we see the world. In English we immediately lay blame, whereas in Japanese we made an observation without assigning fault.

How might our world and our image of ourselves be different if instead of assigning blame by default, we made observations?

“I feel upset” rather than “You upset me.”

“You’ve ruined my day” rather than “I’m having a tough day.”

The narrative of “you did this to me” is disempowering and hurts us in ways we cannot appreciate until we realise that our interpretation is always under our control.