Live your best life …
Bad things do happen to good people. Sometimes, even though our intentions are honourable, things can go awry. Under these circumstances, we tend to fall back on our habitual protective behaviours because our ego has been mobilised to deal with an emotional attack. It is normal to feel outraged, disappointed, flabbergasted or hard done by. Depending on the severity of the ‘transgression’, we may follow up with analysing, finding fault or blaming.
In this blog, I want to examine the impact of blaming on personal growth and relationships.
In the following quote, Robin Hobb, the author of a trilogy of fantasy novels, highlights the consequences of a blaming attitude to living a full life.
Etta (the pirate chief’s mistress) is speaking to a young man (Wintrow- a young priest in training now forced to live a sailor’s life) who is bemoaning his fate because he cannot see how he can ” restore his life to what it is supposed to be.”
“ You can’t go back. That part of your life is over. Set it aside as something you have finished. Complete or not, it is done with you. No (human) being gets to decide what his life is supposed to be…. Discover where you are now and go from there, making the best of things. Accept your life, and you might survive it. If you hold back from it, insisting it is not your life, not where you are meant to be, life will pass you by. You may not die from such foolishness, but you may as well be dead for all the good your life will do you or anyone else.”
In the novel, the young man keeps looking back to the past. He is constantly unhappy and resentful. He hates the ‘new life’ that had been foisted on him. From this point of view, his response is perfectly understandable. There is no way he is going to be able to ‘complete’ what he’s started (his former life). However, by dwelling on what is not present, he is cancelling out any of the positives in this new life. He is not using many of the skills and talents he possesses whilst his whole attention is focused on blaming and resentment.
What is anyone’s life supposed to be? Let’s look at the meaning of the word ‘supposed’. To suppose is to assume (something) without reference to it being true or false. ” I am supposed to have THIS particular life” sounds like an entitlement or even a somewhat arrogant assertion. Society has lots of opinions about what life is supposed to be. It is often based on social status, political or religious conviction. Culturally and morally, we have been schooled in ‘the right thing to do’. Adherence to this code equalled belonging. We can suppose all sorts of things. Often we don’t let the truth get in the way of a convenient story. If you make up your mind that your life or a relationship is supposed to be a particular way and it is not, then you are in danger of focusing on everything that is lacking. The trouble with focusing on lack is that we get to keep the lack we have. In fact, it will probably multiply because of all the attention we give it. We become paralysed by what we lack. What we lack becomes so enormous that it overshadows everything positive. Remember that we all get more of what we focus our attention on; that’s just the way the Universe seems to work.
When we hold back from life insisting we are not where we are meant to be, life will pass us by. This is sad but true. While we moan and complain about our present circumstances, life goes on. Unhappily, we are in no fit state to take advantage of opportunities that come our way because we are focusing all our energy on what is supposed to be. We are treading water. We are hooked into the story our ego is running in order to protect us from further emotional pain. Is this really working?
Etta states that, ” You may not die from such foolishness (resisting life) but you may as well be dead for all the good your life will do you…” What a waste of time and missed opportunities! Staying attached to past scenarios does not help in any positive way. In fact, nothing changes. By not looking for the silver lining in the less than favourable situation, we are allowing the ego to run and re-run the old negative patterns; we just reinforce habitual reactions and we go nowhere. Unchallenged negative reactions won’t kill us but they certainly can make us very miserable.
We need to stop the blame game. Blaming is a judgemental act whose purpose is to punish the transgressor, absolve ourselves from wrong doing and possibly to comfort the victim. When we stop blaming others (God, our family, friends or workmates) we have the option of observing the situation for what it really is; we have a chance of observing the truth. Observing takes the heat out of the situation. And, when we put some kindness and even a little love into our observation, we take on a neutral position and we begin to see things differently.
We get to see the part we play in the emotionally fraught situation; the ‘stuff ‘ we are contributing to the difficulties. We may be acting out of laudable motives but be reaping negative results. For example, family dynamics are often complex. Loyalty to a family member who is having trouble with another may seem like the right thing to do. Surely support is needed? Perhaps. But it depends on the type of support. Support that creates division; an us versus them scenario is a counter productive move which usually has unintended results. One of the biggest fallacies perpetrated on family unity is the advice of ‘keeping the peace’ at any cost. The clue is in the word ‘cost’, because it will cost in the end. Why? because there is only a semblance of peace whilst underneath the ‘volcano’ is readying itself to blow!
Blaming is a mug’s game a losing game. It is a waste of time and energy. It tears at the fabric of the life we want to lead. It blinds us to possibilities and keeps us imprisoned in old habitual reactions which are no longer working and which stifle growth. Blame does not have options.
Blame shrinks when we team it with responsibility, compassion, love and truth.
BE KIND TO YOURSELVES
Are You Minding Your Own Business
Doing The ‘Right Thing’, What’s Your Motive
Observation- A Perspective Altering Skill
You Get What You Think About -Whether You Want It Or Not