15 Things to give up to be happy series – 3. – Give up on Blame
3. Give up on blame – When you blame anything on anyone else, you step away from your own power to change your feelings.
Even if you are 100% not to ‘blame’ for any uncomfortable situation, you are 100% in charge of your reaction to it.
Let go of blame and grasp on to your strength.
Strength has many synonyms: Power, Force, Might, Potency, Muscle, Vigor. I have had times in my life when I blamed many things, situations and people for the lot I was in. I felt like a victim, powerLESS, weak, tired and hopeless. Blaming someone else for where I was (even if it was initially their action that put me there) wasn’t helping me one bit. When I decided to change my thought pattern from ‘Why me?’ to ‘What does this require of me?’ – I regained my ability to act. I no longer felt helpless and stuck.
I loved this from Wikipedia: Blame is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. There are other senses of praise and blame that are not ethically relevant. One may praise someone’s good dress sense, and blame the weather for a crop failure.
Ethically or morally, when I place my ‘vigor’ in the power of someone else’s choices (or even the universe – circumstances) I lose. Reframing is a powerful tool, and many of the ideas in this series (15 things to give up to be happy) draw upon its principles.
When you have a picture you love, sometimes taking it down, putting an updated border around it and placing it in a new updated frame will revive an old beloved memory into a vibrant living new addition to your daily world. Similarly, when you take a situation and put around it a new question or idea, it changes the whole view of that same idea.
Katharine Hepburn was a strong and vibrant icon. She said, “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”
She was right. I went to the theater once and was pleased to find a perfect place for my 5’2” frame where the stage was completely visible. To my dismay the gentleman and his two children (who I had strategically placed myself behind so I could see) decided to exchange places, putting a 6’4” man with a hat on, smack in front of me. I inwardly groaned. I complained to my seat-mate. I leaned far to one side and to the other, and slumped down angrily. The show was a failure. I was too irritated and unhappy at the terrible circumstance that had ‘happened to me’ to enjoy it at all. At intermission, I considered asking the man to change back, but being the retreating soul that I am, decided against the confrontation. Just as we were sitting back down, the lady next to me whispered to her own seat-mate, “I’m so glad I asked him to change, I can see perfectly!” I fumed, but I didn’t ask him to remove his hat, I didn’t ask him to switch with one of the children and I didn’t even switch seats with my companion who was considerably taller than I. No, I chose to seethe, blame the man for being insensitive and to have a miserable experience. Standing in the same place with the same hat in front of us will only make us unhappy and blind to the show going on around us.
Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals. ~Thomas S. Monson
The choice then, is not ‘why did this happen’ that will help us, it is ‘what will I do about what has happened?’
A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. John Burroughs
Edward Renehan said John Burroughs was more of “a literary naturalist with a duty to record his own unique perceptions of the natural world.” – John was a copious writer and twelve U.S. schools have been named after him, but his biggest accomplishment may have been his long mental and physical health. Blaming others can wreck havoc on your body. Even in his controversies, he stood firm and President Roosevelt ended supporting him and his vehement support of nature’s nature. His philosophy seems to have served him well.
Let go of blame, take hold of your vigor and strength and power.
- Where can you act?
- Who will support you in your movement forward?
- Whom can you forgive and refuse to handcuff your thoughts?
- Where have you let blame steal your might?