Cause vs Contributing Factor

It seems in life, so often people will play the blame game. It’s my parents’ fault, the school’s fault, my bosses fault, my employees fault, her fault, his fault, the frog’s fault…

The thing is, there are so many people and things that influence us. In our daily activities, our growing up years; our journey. All play a part in who we are and how our lives are lived.  We are also born with our own set of genetics, personality traits, and individual strengths and vulnerabilities. So how do we handle curveballs, set backs, slamdowns, sucky scenarios? How do we process where we are in our current life state?  If we are in a bad place, or just not where we want to be – do we blame?  If we are in a good place, we are happy with our current scenario – do we credit others?

How we process things is crucial in how we develop as a human being. Having strength in character is recognizing the difference in “CAUSE” and “CONTRIBUTING FACTOR”; and knowing how to address our own responsibilities throughout the various scenarios life presents.

Let’s take a moment to look at a few scenarios where this may play out:

My child hit her sibling. She gets in trouble for said action. But she is determined it isn’t her fault because the sibling “made her so mad”…

– No – as much as said sibling may have been annoying and frustrating (Contributing Factors), the sibling did not MAKE (Cause) her to hit.

I have to be at work in 10 minutes. It takes between 8-12 minutes to get there depending on traffic and lights. I get there late. “It was because of the lights”/ “I was stuck behind this jerk… I would have been on time…”

– Um No – I could have/should have left earlier (perhaps a more realistic “cause”) allowing for slow downs (contributing factors) along the way.


I’m dealing with depression.  “It is because of my spouse and his actions, or, “it is because of a surgery”, or “it is because my career isn’t where I expected it to be”  or “it’s because I’m not eating healthily enough or exercising enough” or “well it  is in the family – so it must be because of a genetic predisposition”, or..

This one is harder for sure. Depression can be hard at times to figure out the root CAUSE, frankly because often there are so many potential Contributing Factors. Nor, can we say it isn’t real, or tell a person just to shake it off or the like – thus putting the blame, or “cause” on some supposed decision they are making. But still – getting stuck in the blame/cause does not help anyone. Being aware of contributing factors either past or present, or whatever the “straw that broke the camel’s back is – is helpful as it addresses reality, while allowing us to move forward towards healing in whatever form that takes.

Again – I get that we need to look for root causes, or where things stem from; but how about looking at these things and addressing them as contributing factors, things that may spark, or lead you to where you are at. Influences – some will be minor, some will be major, all impact. But let’s stop this blame game, and rather be more productive in addressing these people and things, and move forward in resolving and improving ourselves.

Love you all lots – I am thankful.

Disclaimer: This post is in no way addressing or intending to minimize the extreme situations like Sexual Assault or Abuse. It is intended as a reflection of our own contributions to our everyday frustrations, struggles, anxieties and situations of life.

Photo Credit: Salvatore Vuono. via

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Ruth. What a great reflection! Rather than automatically assigning blame to one thing/person, when we’re able to recognize this truth (including our own contributions to our troubles), we are freed to grow.

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