What is Deflection?
In general, deflection means that you’re passing something over to someone else in an attempt to draw the attention away from yourself. It is a psychological defense in which you deflect blame to others. When you were younger, you may have deflected the blame for a negative activity by pointing out a different negative activity your sibling did. This is to avoid dealing with negative consequences. But, this behavior can be long term and can become a psychological defense mechanism. As you got older, you might have tried to pass the blame for a bad report to a different coworker. You may have tried to get out of looking bad by trying to say that it was someone else who did it. All of these things are examples of deflection. 1
Importance of Avoiding Deflection
As is obvious from the definition cited above, deflection always involves impugning our failures or mistakes onto others. It is, after all, a defense mechanism, but here I want to discuss that becoming aware of our habits of deflection is the necessary first step in taking charge of our lives and our general behaviors.
For as long as we keep blaming others for our mistakes and our “failures” we stop ourselves from really working on our selves. Since we have already assigned the causes of our failures to external factors, factors beyond our control, we can very easily adopt a fatalistic or, in some cases, a self righteous attitude and continue living without changing anything in our lives.
While there is always a reason to account for and name the outside influences that hinder our growth, in fact knowing these factors is highly important, there is also a need to take responsibility for our own actions, for without that we will never really attempt to change our own selves.
Deflection, both at macro and micro levels, can therefore be one of the main reasons for lack of personal or cultural growth. In other words, if we always blame others when things go wrong, then we will never find the time to look at our own actions critically, and if we do not practice some form of critical self reflection, then we cannot build a praxis that enables us to grow and change.
I have also noticed the destructive aspects of deflection on a larger scale. In politics, for example, for as long as the politicians keep blaming their opponents, they never develop a habit of looking at their own actions critically and as a result their politics becomes simply a politics of blame.
I think both in politics as well as in our individual lives we need to create a balance between recognizing the negative outside influences and our own ability to change our own behaviors. In life, only those who develop this kind of critical balance succeed and thrive!
I know this article is pretty brief and maybe simplifies the concept a bit but my point is that if always impugn our failures onto others, then we deny ourselves a chance to reflect on our own behaviors and that is not really a good recipe for personal growth.