Are you waiting for someone (a knight in shining armor or a very capable damsel) or something (like the lottery) to rescue you?
Okay, you might think rescue is a strong word. Let’s put it this way: Are you waiting for permission from anyone or anything to do what you need to or want to do? Do you continue to blame others for making you feel unhappy, unfulfilled, unsuccessful, sad, or lonely—and do think that if only they would change, you could start living the way you want to? Then you’re waiting for a rescuer.
We’re all do it. It’s how fast we snap out of it that counts.
We’re all tempted to blame others for how we feel or for how our day is going—and to think that someone else can fix it by coming to our rescue. And most of the time, it’s easier by far to grumble and complain than to stand up and take action for ourselves.
But taking hold of the reins of your life isn’t about what’s easy. It’s about acting on what’s true for you.
I’m always amazed to watch in my own life how this idea of waiting for a rescuer can creep in and lurk around without me realizing it, especially when I let myself get tired or run down or overwhelmed with work. But then I suddenly realize: Who is choreographing how I spend my days? Who is dictating how I fill my time? Who is saying yes and who is saying no? Me, of course.
Taking back your choices
The cornerstone of honoring yourself is taking back the choice for how you feel and what you will do with the moments of your life.
If you believe that it is someone else’s job to “rescue” you, you will continue to accept less than the best for yourself. Because you’re operating in passive mode. You’re abdicating one of the most important rights and powers you have: freedom of choice.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way: “A political victory, … the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
What happens if we depend on the changing events that come and go in our lives—up and down, up and down—to make us feel at peace? Then we’ll be constantly going up and down too. Handing over the choice for how you feel to someone else is like taking a long, bumpy ride on an out-of-control roller coaster when you should be in the driver’s seat of your own car. Or like accepting a supporting role in someone else’s drama when you should be playing the leading role in your own life story.
Three Steps for Stepping Out of the Blame Game
When you find yourself continuing to blame anyone for anything, you can be sure you have been duped by the subtle and insidious myth that the determining factors in your life are outside of yourself—that someone else is responsible to fill you up or to fix what’s making you unhappy. (And, if you look up the word “victim” in the dictionary, you’ll find that one of its definitions is just that—someone who has been duped.)
Here are some steps you can take to turn blame into a more empowering way of life:
1. Become aware of when you’re taking the easy way out by blaming.
What are some symptoms that you are doing this (besides kicking and screaming)? Complaining and pouting are often forms of blame. Feeling depressed can be a symptom too—a feeling of powerlessness.
2. The next time you find yourself asking in your head or aloud, “How could he/she/it do this to me? What’s wrong with them? How can I get them to change so I can get what I need?” try living with this affirmation instead:
The choice for what happens next in my life is always my own. My choices, my attitudes, and my actions will determine how I respond/act/feel. I have the power to make a new and higher choice instead of waiting for someone else to rescue me.
No matter what circumstances you are in, no matter what has gone before, you always have the power to make a new choice, a new response—starting now.
3.Then always take a practical step. Make another choice besides complaining or being passive, and act on it.
Instead of complaining about something you aren’t happy with—or inviting friends (or anyone who will listen) to a pity party—reflect on what you are in control of. Ask yourself: In this situation, what ARE all my choices? What can I (not the others involved) do?
An example: You might not be able to change the people who are hounding you, but you can still draw boundaries and take care of yourself. It’s not someone else’s job to fill you up, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to do that job yourself. Only you can know when it’s time to take a break or put on your favorite music and relax. You’re the only one who can say no to your best friend’s invitation because you want to be alone this weekend. You’re the only one who can leave a job or relationship because it’s no longer right for you.
Grandma Moses, the twentieth-century American folk artist who started painting in her seventies and lived until she was 101, was a testament to the power of choice. “If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens,” she said. “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”
To take away . . .
- Blame holds you hostage. Only you can rescue yourself.
- We’re all tempted to blame others when things don’t feel good. It’s how fast we snap out of it that counts.
- A cornerstone of honoring yourself is taking back the choice for how you feel and what you will do with the moments of your life.
. . . And to act on
- Are you blaming anyone for how you’re feeling today? What choice will you make to stop waiting for a rescuer and take back ownership of the moments in your life?