Currently this is a major theme of mine that’s been coming to the forefront, thanks to pain and discomfort that accompanies crises life.
Seriously – I’ve been known to say this before — pain is my greatest teacher. It’s incredibly effective when I don’t numb it out, but instead honor it, because I’ve learned to recognize the wisdom it brings me. I cheat myself out of receiving this deeply personal wisdom when I numb out to it through blaming others. When I won’t look squarely at how I’ve contributed to any of this mess – either by acts of omission or commission, in an honest and compassionate way, I miss out. Big time.
When I resort to only blaming others for all the hard things in my life and about all the circumstances I don’t like, I am also welcoming their future return. Some of the hard things in my life are out of my control, that is a reality, but only looking at what’s outside of my control will perpetuate the hard things.
This is next part is hard to see and hard to say, but is an important part of healthy self-protection. I need to move past blame or looking at what’s outside of my control and look at what IS inside of my control. Taking responsibility without blame and shame is about moving forward, not looking back in regret. It’s looking back at my life as a search and rescue effort, to search at how I got there and rescue myself as much as possible by protecting myself from ending back there in the future. A huge part of this is about valuing myself enough to engage in healthy boundary setting with others by taking grace-filled and compassionate responsibility of what is mine, and not taking responsibility of what isn’t mine but is instead what others project onto me. This is not about self-blame, because that involves shame and usually leads to blaming others. It’s about taking ownership of my life which involves respecting my own power, not misusing it.
Having self-compassion is the foundation for practicing this essential adult life skill. Practicing self-compassion is nurtured through being in relationship with others, even if it’s just one person to start with, who values this practice and supports mine. This notion of being healthy and strong translating into me not needing others to support me has been exhausting itself. This belief that I shall dismiss my own desires and needs for another to affirm and validate me is incredibly American. By American, I mean it’s new and trendy (our long history of human culture doesn’t reflect this), it’s manufactured by a masked fear of vulnerability, hyper-independence, and glamorized isolation.
There is a word of caution to take from this fear of vulnerability though. That word is balance. You don’t need ALL of your support to come from others, and you don’t need NONE of your support to come from others — you need SOME of your support to come from others. Interdependence. Not independence or codependence. It’s about balance, allowing for fluidity and flexibility in the middle while staying away from rigid extremes of the all-or-none whiplash.
I am waking up. I am no longer taking the bait of blaming others for the exchange of false security. There’s nothing secure about relinquishing my personal power and hitting the replay button on all of my painful experiences, only to play out in a slightly different scenario later on. The cost is too much to not own up and grow up. I really can afford taking responsibility for my life and owning it, while not taking the results so personally. I can’t control results and outcomes. Life ownership has limitations too because I’m part of an ecological environment, a larger than me reality. I can only influence outcomes the best I can by taking responsibility for my choices, and then letting life unfold, the best I can.
“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” – Epictetus.