Friday, June 29, 2007

Blame - Don’t take it personally

I had to share this story with you. One day on my way into a local supermarket I frequent (Greenlife), I paused at a table out front taking signatures on a petition for something. While I’m there an employee is returning from her lunch break and pauses to relay a story to the person next to me. She was saying that her day had taken a turn for the worse when one of the customers threw money at her rather than just handing it to her. She was upset by that because she felt she had done nothing to deserve such a thing.

After I had done my shopping I ended up in her line. I jokingly forewarned her that once she told me my total I was going to throw my money at her. She smiled and thanked me for the forewarning. When it came time to pay I just handed it to her and said I couldn’t bring myself to do it. She laughed and said that she later realized that the customer’s behavior probably didn’t have anything to do with her and that she shouldn’t have taken it personally. I agreed and wished her a better day to come.

It later dawned on me that her insight into the situation was quite profound. We are so prone to take everything personally that it distorts our thinking. We then tend to blame others for any and all negative feelings or emotions we experience from being exposed to their behavior.

This brings me to a lovely little email from Daily Om I received the other day that sums up dealing with such feelings nicely.

“As we begin to truly understand that the world outside of us is a reflection of the world inside of us, we may feel confused about who is to blame for the problems in our lives. If we had a difficult childhood, we may wonder how we can take responsibility for that, and in our current relationships, the same question arises. We all know that blaming others is the opposite of taking responsibility, but we may not understand how to take responsibility for things that we don’t truly feel responsible for. We may blame our parents for our low self-esteem, and we may blame our current partner for exacerbating it with their unconscious behavior. Objectively, this seems to make sense. After all, it is not our fault if our parents were irresponsible or unkind, and we are not to blame for our partner’s bad behavior.

Perhaps the problem lies with the activity of blaming. Whether we blame others or blame ourselves, there is something aggressive and unkind about it. It sets up a situation in which it becomes difficult to move forward under the burdensome feelings of shame and guilt that arise. It also puts the resolution of our pain in the hands of someone other than us. Ultimately, we cannot insist that someone else take responsibility for their actions; only they can make that choice when they are ready. In the meantime, if we want to move forward with our lives instead of waiting around for something that may or may not happen, we begin to see the wisdom of taking the situation into our own hands.

We do this by forgiving our parents, even if they have not asked for our forgiveness, so that we can be free. We end the abusive relationship with our partner, who may never admit to any wrongdoing, because we are willing to take responsibility for how we are treated. In short, we love ourselves as we want to be loved and create the life we know we deserve. We leave the resolution of the wrongs committed against us in the hands of the universe, releasing ourselves to live a life free of blame.” -

There is another part to this that I hope to discuss in my next email to you. In the meantime I would like to wish you the best. And remember, don’t take anything personally. Or, better yet, practice not taking your thoughts too seriously. These are wonderfully liberating practices.
Best of love,

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