Monday, August 17, 2009

The Truth About Blaming

Blaming is easy and sweet. Taking responsibility requires a bit more effort. But blaming puts the power over your life and happiness to another person, or something, or an event. Is that really what you want?

What does this poster mean?
"Responsibility" by PaDumBumPsh

I can see you breathing heavily, heart pumping, and feeling so sure that it has not been your fault -- it is most definitely his or her fault. Therefore, that person must take the consequence. I respect that and I have no intention of changing that.

Let me elaborate ...

Does blaming make you happy? You may say, "Yes." But for how long would that make you happy? Would it be a "happy" happy? or a "bitter" happy?

Say, 5, 10, 20 years down the line, that person is long gone in your life, would the pain in your heart be completely healed? Or would there still be the nagging question, why did it have to happen? Why? Why? Why?

Where's the power now? Is it with you? or is it with that other person? or with that event that happened?

Who has control over your happiness?

Let me explain ...

The questions I threw are difficult I know. I do not mean to trivialize what has happened to you. They *are* infuriating. In fact, perhaps a part of you may already be resenting the questions here -- they're not fair!

Am I right?

There is one story that may help you see the bigger picture and give you the sense of control that you need. The story is that of Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor.

He was born in 1905 and experienced first hand war and suffering during his prime. His book Man's Search for Meaning  has sold 10 million copies in 24 languages by the time he passed away in 1997.

What was it that made that book sell so well?

He was quoted to have said:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

This is it. Now you no longer wonder how some people go to the depths of depression and bounce back in life with fury. They found that which they had control of, despite everything around them being a mess.

They stopped blaming. Blaming may sound righteous, justifiable, worthy of sympathy. But that distracted them from appreciating that which they had control of -- their choice over what to do with what happened.

Let me tell you about some people I saw.

During seminar sessions, participants recounted with passion their painful experiences where they felt like they were real victims. After telling their story, they were asked to tell their story again -- but this time, they were asked to also tell their participation in the creation of that event, no matter how small that could have been.

Some realized -- seemingly for the first time -- that their lack of gratitude to their parents or partner contributed to the painful event. Some mentioned that their lack of cooperation during a critical stage in the project contributed to the decrease of trust and respect of their peers. One mentioned that a sarcastic remark he made gave his peers an impression that he was not "in."

Gigi (not her real name) in particular shared that she felt freed of something. She grasped for words to describe what replaced it, until someone supplied her the words, "greater control." Because she realized what her contribution was, she then knew how to fix it and how to change the results in the future.

She found the steering wheel that she would grasp and turn to determine her attitude would go in response to anything that would happen in her life, no matter what that would be. Instead of being a victim, she could choose to be a victor.

Their experience could be yours.

That's the beauty of taking responsibility. When you exercise it, freedom is absolutely yours and no one can take it away from you.

Related Post: Ten Tough Questions To Ask When the Going Gets Tough

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