leave blame behind and take control
We all have baggage.
Yours isn’t the same as mine but it’s all heavy. It weighs us down in the present because we can’t face the future without looking back at what happened in the past.
And then we place blame.
“I can’t succeed as a writer because my English teacher said I lacked imagination.”
“I can’t get close to anyone because my mother said I was unlovable.”
“I lack confidence because someone said I was ugly.”
Blame lets you off the hook. The blame game is satisfying because it allows you to simultaneously wallow in past hurt and dodge any remedial actions. It’s not your fault, you cry. People or life or the universe did you wrong. You can’t help the position you’re in.
Well, guess what? That story you tell yourself and anyone who’ll listen is BS.
Not My Fault!
A few years ago The Secret by Rhonda Byrne swept to the top of bestseller lists all over the world. It sold people one beguiling idea: that you could bring about anything you wanted by asking the Universe for it. It repackaged ideas about the power of positive thinking that had been around since Think and Grow Rich was written in 1937 and brought them into the modern age.
But this bright smiley idea has a dark side. It’s this; if bad things happen, you brought them on yourself by negative thinking. Got laid off? Ill health? Betrayed by someone? You weren’t thinking right and now it’s your fault.
This idea is insidious and fails to acknowledge that some people have very real challenges that aren’t necessarily avoidable. Nobody chooses a hard life if they have a choice.
In this case, something bad happened and it was not your fault. You shouldn’t blame yourself for events that are out of your direct control.
Fault lies with whoever caused the event.
Blame is something you lay at the feet of the person who caused it.
But while they are responsible for causing the event, you also have a responsibility. It’s your job to fix yourself.
Still On The Hook
Understand you’re not letting the person responsible off the hook. If your father was a violent alcoholic, he made his choices and acted accordingly. Your task now is to choose how you go forward from the place you find yourself in through no fault of your own.
Constantly pointing back to the past won’t help. You have to accept the task of building your own happiness, without either sacrificing it on the altar of blame or outsourcing it to someone or something else.
It’s not necessary to forgive what happened. Remember that forgiveness is a gift for you, not a prize for wrongdoing. You get the benefit; you release yourself from the burden of grief and move forward with a lighter heart.
That might be too much to ask. But it’s not necessary to forgive or forget. What you must do is focus on yourself and your future.
Time To Take Charge
It may not be your fault, but it is for sure your responsibility to fix it.
Will Smith posted a short video in which he explains his idea. He advocates reclaiming your power by facing the truth of your situation and any necessary change head-on but leaving fault behind.
Once again, the person with a strong internal locus of control is better equipped for the task of forging their own path. They’re used to setting their own standards and goals before working out how to achieve them. They accept help if needed and work together with their advisers to succeed.
The person with an external locus of control believes that when things happen to them they’re relatively powerless to change the outcome. They look for answers and remedies outside themselves and are typically passive observers of their lives. They want to be saved. They get angry when the solutions don’t magically appear and don’t expect to exert any effort to achieve them.
But It’s Not Fair
I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?
From my first day of school, I faced relentless bullying. It never really stopped as I got older, it simply changed. The boys chanting names behind five-year-old me all the way home gave way to the woman who was enraged that eighteen-year-old me got the university place that rightly belonged to her son. And so on.
I was hurt and confused and angry. I wasn’t at fault, I simply existed in the same space as people who thought I shouldn’t be there. Many tears were shed in secret.
We all live in a story of our own making. Sometimes we write the script, other times we speak other people’s words. We don’t always control the scenes. But our lives are stories, and we can change them.
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.
John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan
So you’re going to take a long hard look at some of the scripts that run your life. You’re going to be brutally honest about how you react to the bad stuff. And you’re going to change and do better.
For me, that means acknowledging things that have happened without laying blame. Blame is a trap that steals both agency and hope.
People act at their current level of thinking, and they cannot do better until they think better. It’s not my job to change their minds. It’s my job to change mine.
I have to do the work of repairing my wounds, grow a thicker skin, strengthen my resolve, and claim the life I want. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but that’s life and we deserve to thrive despite it all.
Get Up That Ladder
If lightning strikes your roof, you can cry or curse the weather. The rain will keep coming in as long as you fail to fix the problem that you didn’t cause.
Or you get out the ladder and call someone who can help because you’re the one getting wet. Choosing to stay wet? That’s on you.
Stuff happens. It is what it is. What the future will be is up to you.