Thursday, October 4, 2012

Giving up the Blame Game

Blaming others for your circumstances never works. It makes you more of a victim. It puts you into a passive, helpless mind frame. It's not a mentally healthy neighborhood to hang out in. It's negative, and it keeps you stuck and powerless to improve things.

You can hear people blaming all around you. Like these statements:

"I'm all stressed out because of my boss."

"My teenagers drive me crazy."

"My marriage is bad because my (wife, husband) does (x, y, z)."

"I've always had bad self-esteem because of my childhood."

"I can't control my anger because people upset me."

"My health is bad because of my genetics."

"I can't save any money because of my kids."

The truth is that there are givens for all of us----your partner, your genetics, your personality, your earning power, but there is another huge untapped influence for most of us also. That powerful influence is our thoughts and our behavior choices.

Diabetes might run in your family, but you can get great information on how to lower your risk with diet and exercise and work on that plan every day.

You might get hot-headed with anger, and come from a family of bad anger role-models, but you personally get to choose learning some better skills, and using them. To do less than this is to choose the easy way out and stay in your comfort zone of unskilled behavior.

Mentally healthy people take some authority over their own thoughts. They realize that negative thoughts breed more negative thoughts and behaviors. What we think about truly expands to fill the space available inside us. Weeding out your own negative, maladaptive thoughts is each person's responsibility. A good therapist can teach you how to scale back those distorted negative thoughts in a couple sessions. Everyone needs to "take out their own trash," meaning manage their own thoughts.

How do I know that this is possible? I have had the privilege of working in counseling with individuals who have overcome incredible odds, including abusive parents, poverty, multiple significant losses, and the betrayal of others, and yet adjust their thinking to have their experiences make them softer, gentler, and more full of loving kindness for themselves and others. They go onto full and emotionally rich lives after amazing hardship, and it deepens their appreciation for the goodness and light in life.

To move past blaming others puts you in a better position to take back your own power over your own life, both your present and your future. When we abdicate responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we are stuck in a bad neighborhood called helplessness.

When we take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and our part in making any situation or relationship better, that's when better things can happen in our present and future. Owning our own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors is a hallmark of emotional maturity.
When stressed, the mature person exercises more and sorts out their negative thoughts and feelings that keep them churned up. The mature person realizes that part of not being stressed out is showing humor and flexibility, and doing good self-care. Dealing with your own stress, rather than taking it out on others, is essentially a choice.

You can choose to make blame unnecessary in your life, because as you take responsibility for where you are now in your life, and where you want to go, blame becomes irrelevant. What really matters as time passes is enjoying moments with those you love and doing things you are passionate about. Both of those things are so much more fun than blaming.

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