One of the realities that I’ve been embracing recently concerns blame. It’s much easier and more convenient to blame others for those events that occur in our lives, making us victims rather than participants. While I am not suggesting that we take responsibility for everything that takes place in our worlds, it’s much wiser to take some instead of none.
Obviously, we’re not creators of national disasters, weather, crimes or political bluster. But when we look at our individual worlds, it’s easy to understand how uncomplicated it is to assign blame to those around us rather than being analytical or realistic to accept that we are in fact the cause.
Here’s an example. You’re beginning to feel that your partner is dumping on you about issues large and small. It’s quite easy to issue statements such as, “You’re grumpy,” or “You’re resistant to reason” or a variety of other accusations. In addition to alleviating any chance of feeling guilty, you also get the opportunity to feel victimized. The reality is that being a victim is toxic, to you and those who love you.
No, I am not suggesting that you withhold any information about your feelings or reactions. As an educator, I am fully aware of the value of asking questions in the classroom. “Are you having a bad day?” “Is something going on that you would like to discuss?” “Did someone say something to hurt your feelings?”
In the adult world, that type of behavior is much more productive than holding others liable for misunderstanding. My goal is to ask, “Did I sound angry or unhappy?” “Did we get off to a bad start today?” or “I’m sorry if I was impatient.”
To be sure, asking those questions and making thoughtful statements is sometimes very difficult. But if the liability or joy of any specific situation is shared rather than dramatically characterized, life becomes much more enjoyable. This is a work in progress for many of us but as is the case with so many of our growth events, the consequences are well worth the effort. Shalom.