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Friday, June 27, 2014

And If There Is No One To Blame?


Life as a child was great ... I always found someone or something to blame for whatever was going wrong. My older brother had not let me come along to play with his friends, the girl down the street had broken my favorite doll, the weather had spoiled our picnic, my mother had scolded me harshly, I would tearfully tell my father when he returned at night, the 'bad' stove had made me burn my hand, the 'nasty' friend had not let me win the board game. As you can imagine, I had a lot to learn.

And learn I did! But in that learning, and in the realizing that the more you take on full responsibility not only for all you do, but also full responsibility for all you think, feel, say, and above all, for how you react to those things that happen, meant that I began to see life with totally different eyes.

And of course, doing that, means there is no one left to blame. No matter what happens, and no matter what another does.

That is ridiculous, you say.
  • The government and the financial system which it allowed for so many years has messed us up so much, that many of us are living on the brink of poverty. That is clearly the government's fault.
  • Or: my car was totalled in that accident yesterday when someone ran the red light, and that is clearly the other driver's fault.
  • Or: I've been diagnosed with breast cancer, and that is clearly the fault of my genes plus the environmental pollutants.
  • Or: I've been training for national qualification as an equestrian jumper, but my father has been so negative about it all, stressing me every time I go practice, that I didn't make the grade, and that is clearly my father's fault.
We could come up with any number of other examples, but what I wanted to show by using these in particular, is that even in cases where many of us might agree that it is so obviously not my fault, if something of this nature occurs, I would still say: but you must take full responsibility for how you react; for how you choose to react.

Because of course much of this is a question of seeing that there is always a choice. A choice of how much attention I pay to what is happening in the government, first at my community and local level, then provincial or state, and so on, and finally at the federal level. I also have choices about the kind of car insurance I have and what it covers, and while I don't have a choice about the genes I inherit, I do have a choice about how I influence those genes on the basis of much of the information that is coming out of cellular and molecular biology (and it is my choice to read about these things), not to mention what I allow into my 'environment', which includes not only what I breathe, eat and drink, but also how I live, how I manage stress, with whom I am surrounded, and so on. And finally, I always have choices about how I react to others' negativity. I even have choices about how much time I spend with people who are negative - even a father.

But while I stand by the last paragraph, I believe that much more important even than that, is the choice to always assume responsiblity for your own reactions. Find a place within where you gain equanimity and inner balance about whatever it is that is happening, and then, and only then, begin to decide what to do about it. Some things we can change. Others we can't change. But what we can do always, is to love the self so much, that our first priority is the recuperation of this inner balance. That is the first and the most gigantic step in not blaming and in accepting responsibility for yourself.

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
A terrible thing: no one to blame.
Erica Jong 

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