I tripped on something and banged my knee something awful. It hurt. My initial reaction was to yell “Ouch!!” my second was to blame my husband. “Damn you! If you had removed what I asked you to remove, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt! It’s your fault!” What I noticed, immediately, was how good it felt to blame him. Why does it feel so good to blame others for our problems? “My kids behavior makes me crazy” “My boss won’t let me take time off” “If I could just earn more money, I would be happy”
Or in my case, “If my husband would just do what I ask him to do, my life would be peachy.”
Which of course, is ridiculous. I will still hurt myself whether my husband does what I ask or not.
I think the reason blame feels so good in the moment, is you don’t have believe that sometimes, bad things just happen. If we can point the finger and say, it’s you, it avoids the truth that, at any time, without warning, we could get hurt. It’s hard to admit that without the fault of any one person or group, economy’s change, kids disobey, people ignore us, money comes and goes, and no one is going to rescue us from this big bad world of reality. Blaming allows us to revert back to childhood.
So why don’t we view blaming as a good thing? Why not encourage our kids to do it, find a scapegoat? “You’re right honey, all the teachers at your school are out to get you” or “I’m sure it WAS the ref’s fault your team didn’t win”. Oh, wait, we kind of do that! We blame the budget, the mean girls, the teacher, the coach, our mothers, the curriculum, the preschool, the boss, the job market, the democrats, the media, you name it, we blame them. Yet if I was to ask you, if blaming other people for your problems is a good idea, intuitively, you know it isn’t. Why is that?
Blaming is a child’s way of going through the world. To acknowledge that you could error, make mistakes, or be imperfect, requires maturity. To admit that life can be unpredictable and our future is uncertain, requires trust and confidence that you can handle it. When we blame, we give all our power away. If it’s the teacher’s fault that the child isn’t learning, you are stuck! You can’t make somebody be a better teacher. If you accept your child’s teacher isn’t the greatest, but there is a lot you and your child can do to learn, it gives you immense power. You take charge of learning, seek out opportunities, other teachers, other modes of instruction, work hard and do your best. You learn to accept reality and adapt to the situation, always claiming your own power and working with what you DO have control over.
So often my clients have the belief that “If my child would just behave, I could be happy.” This is never true. Children will always “misbehave”. Blaming your child’s actions for your happiness, always leads to suffering. I decide I’m going to be happy by the thoughts I choose to believe. “Kids misbehave. I can figure out a good way to handle it. I’m a good Mom. Health problems happen. Social Problems happen. ‘Misbehavior’ is a message to me. What can I learn from this? She’s looking to me to guide her.”
Thinking this way helps us enjoy parenting way more than, “my child disrespects me and there is nothing I can do about it.”
Accepting responsibility for your own happiness is a very grown up thing to do and gives YOU lots of power.
So for me, I am accepting that my husband will NEVER do everything I ask him to do. In fact, I don’t want him to. I married a man, not a robot. If he did everything I asked him to do, I’d probably get annoyed at him for not having a mind of his own. So instead, I change my thoughts to “injuries happen” and “people aren’t perfect.” My power lies in my ability to decide how I want to think about it and I think seeing the world as a mature adult, feels really good.
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