Blaming is for Babies – Own Your Stuff

Ever watch children fight and then get in trouble by a parent for it?  What is the common thing that happens?  Blame.  One child will say something like “She started it.”  Or, “I didn’t do it.”  And, “It’s all his fault.”  Then they proceed to fight some more over whose fault it is for causing the trouble.  Ever notice we do the same thing as adults?  Why is it that we don’t want to accept responsibility for our own actions, our own contributions to the situation, or our own faults that lead to it in the first place?  As immature children, it’s natural that we don’t have perspective on this and we default into survival mode.  After all, stepping up and saying “I did it,” or “It was my bad,” is the type of thing that usually gets you a punishment of some kind.  So it’s an avoidance tactic wrapped in a survival blanket.  Trouble is threatening and anything threatening sparks our survival instincts to kick-in.

The problem with blame is that we never take accountability or responsibility for our actions.  We don’t own our shit.  I’ve found that actually owning it is a big relief.  When we get into survival mode, we are actually in fight mode.  And, fighting is exhausting work.  The more we resist and push to blame someone else for what is happening in our life, the more energy we expand pushing it on someone else.  And, the more we push it on someone else, it never gets resolved.  Because guess what?  The other person is deflecting the blame either back on you or elsewhere.  And nothing gets resolved.  The easiest way to dissolve a situation, is simply to own up.  Have you ever noticed that when you’re in an argument with someone how quickly it can get diffused if you just say “You’re right,” or “I’m sorry”?  Then, there is nothing to really argue about so much anymore.  You can visibly see the other person’s shoulders come down and the hackles on their fur settle down.

The easiest thing to do is actually accept the blame.  And really it is not blame.  It is just responsibility and accountability for what happened and your part in it.  Taking responsibility will set you free.  Why?  Because the burden of pushing that blame Boulder up a mountain and forcing it upon someone else who is resistant and fighting you all the way will be lifted.  Once you take responsibility, the door opens for resolution.  It may be as simple as saying “I was wrong,” or “I made a mistake,” and acknowledging that.  Often times that is all that is needed.

Recently I was visiting my daughter in Seattle and found myself doing the blame game.  I had a limited time window while in town and wanted to also see one of my girlfriends, so I invited her to the dinner get together I had with my daughter.  Later I found out my daughter was upset as I was talking to my friend more than her!  I guess I did a bad job of juggling the two and, in retrospect, should have prioritized just connecting with my daughter.  While in a heated discussion about it, I kept saying things like “well, you brought your boyfriend,” or “I only had so much time.”  I was blaming other things for my behavior.  Finally, she says “Mom, I just want you to acknowledge it was a bad idea and you shouldn’t have invited your friend too.”  Once I acknowledged this, suddenly our angry bickering ceased and it wasn’t even something to discuss anymore.  I made a mistake, I fessed up to it, and that was that.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Most of the time people will allow us good graces or second chances if we just admit it.

It’s the admitting part that is so hard and what we need to practice getting over.  Why are we so fearful of admitting our transgressions?  Fear.  Fear we will be rejected.  Getting back to the survivor mode discussion we were having earlier, it’s because the brain relates rejection to the possibility of being kicked out of the tribe.  This could, quite literally, mean death.  So it’s the old instinctual survivor programmed brain that is responding to the situation and looking for anyway to put the blame elsewhere so as to stay “safe.”  Once you understand where the resistance is coming from, you can move past it.  Baby steps are important here.  Take a small action to use a single simple comment in these scenarios for starters.  A good one I like to use is “I understand your point.”  Say this and only this.  Don’t follow up with a “But…” and start going into blame mode again.  Practice using this one liner – pay attention to the shift in the conversation and the aggression being displayed by the other person.  Once you say this, the other person will feel validated that you acknowledge their pain and that you value them as a person.  This will go a long way.  Over time, you will get better at saying this more readily versus as first where it might feel like choking down a very dry cracker!  That’s okay.  Movement and progress in this takes time and practice.  Soon you’ll be able to add other responses to your repertoire like “I made a mistake.”  “That didn’t work out like I expected.”  “I didn’t think that one through.”  “I was wrong.”  Even perhaps “I’m sorry.”

Check out my exercise worksheet called the Blame Game <link to Blame Game exercise> to help you uncover some unresolved blame barriers in your life.

Blame Game Worksheet Exercise

What’s the blame game?  What’s a blame barrier?

List the things you blame for the way your life is

  • I blame my mom for drinking
  • I blame my ex-husband for the divorce
  • I blame my boss for being unhappy in my job
  • Etc.

Now take each one and ask: What is my role in this?

  • I make the choice to drink even if my mom stresses me out
  • I had some things to do with the divorce
  • I am unhappy in my job because it isn’t what I want to be doing

Now list what is your responsibility in the situation

  • I can ignore my mother and not let her issues get me stressed out.  I can chose not to drink.
  • I can accept that keeping a marriage together takes my contributions too.  Or, I can acknowledge that I made mistakes in the marriage.
  • I can choose to find another job that is a better fit for me.

Now list an action you may decide to take as an outcome of going through this exercise

  • When my mom stresses me out I am going to choose to do something else, like go for a walk, than drink.
  • I am going to stop blaming my ex-husband for the divorce and focus on healing
  • I am going to go apply for other jobs

Now that you’ve made your acknowledgements you can see how you have actually gotten your power back.  When you blame someone else they own the power over you.  When you acknowledge yourself and what you did and accept responsibility you take the power back into your own hands.  From there it up to you what you do with it, but the possibilities are endless.

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You’ve Got Feelings – Express Them!

I was telling a girlfriend last night at dinner that when I first started to learn to express my feelings it was so painful I felt like I was going to die.  Even saying as something as simple as “My feelings are hurt” felt like my heart was being ripped out as I said it.  Maybe this is because I was never in touch with my feelings to begin with.  Since the heart is the seat of our emotions, I guess it would make sense that’s where I would feel the pain.

Why is it so hard for many of us to express our feelings?  Because we’re not used to it.  It’s foreign and unknown and because of this, it’s not only scary, but it’s simply something we don’t know how to do.  I certainly had no connection to my feelings at all.  Actually, that’s not true.  I was definitely angry all the time.  I was really good at feeling sad and mad.  In fact, I think that’s all I knew and all I did for years was fluctuate between one and the other.  A moment of happiness was a most awkward and uncomfortable thing.  If I found myself having a good belly laugh about something I was suddenly self-conscious of myself and this strange tingling feeling in my body.  And that scared the crap out of me.  Even being in touch with my body was frightening.  I grew up being raised Catholic and the body was taboo.  How it felt, what it did, and especially what is lusted after was all bad.  You didn’t go there.  While many of us may not have been raised Catholic, we may have been raised in other religious environments where being in touch with your body, its sensations, and its sensuality were all the devil’s work.  This really creates a disconnect and a dismemberment of ourselves.

It’s no secret (at least anymore) that I went to rehab for alcohol addiction, not once, not twice, but three times.  It was the final program that helped me get out and it was different than the traditional 12-step based program.  We got in touch with our feelings every day.  In fact, each group therapy session started with writing down three feeling words.  What you felt at the moment, no judging, no thinking, just a quick “pulse check” as our group counselor liked to call it.  I had a hell of a time doing this exercise, of course.  I would often think about a counselor I had at a previous rehab program and what she said to me.  She would say “Kerry, you’re nothing but a floating head.”  Meaning I was so stuck in my head and thinking everything that I was completely disconnected from my body.  Thus, I was disconnected from my emotions.  She was right.  My body was a bad place to be and my feelings were part of that.

It’s not just religious upbringing that might instill stunted growth in your emotional capabilities of expressing yourself, but your family of origin or even the inter-personal dynamics in it.  My father is what you would call New England stoic.  He is the epitome of the silent and self-reliant American man who shows no emotion.  In fact, he was mostly emotionally unavailable to a small girl, a teenage girl, a grown woman.  You see, this created a detachment problem.  My stay at home mother, who was a Germanic disciplinarian and often stressed, would quite frequently yell or use the silent treatment to command obeying the rules.

If I’m unable to connect with my core family members in an emotionally enriching way and I’m taught that being in touch with my body is evil, it’s a potent combination for some serious dysfunction when it comes to expressing my feelings.  Thus, it’s important to understand where you might have been stunted in learning how to get in touch with and express your emotions and feelings.  Do some searching and focus on some self-discovery in this regard to see what you might find.  It will help you move past it by knowing what it is.

Expressing ones feelings is what is needed for healing and growth.  Otherwise, these things get pent up and have nowhere to go.  They get suppressed and turn into ugly emotions like rage, and can exhibit themselves through depression and violence, even violence against oneself.

So, I challenge you to start small.  Ask yourself how am I feeling right now?  Am I feeling frustrated, elated, disappointed, hurt, silly, or….?  Don’t judge what comes, just notice it.  And then, let it be.  Let it breathe.  Do this once a day.  Over time, it will become habit and you’ll find yourself better understanding your emotional landscape.  Then, you can begin to speak it out loud.  “I’m feeling hurt.”  “I’m feeling proud.”  I’m feeling sad.”  These are all just feelings and expressions of a moment in time, which too, shall pass.  So let them ride like the wind and float away like dandelion puffs.  But just for that moment when you blew your breath on it, you were connected with it.  And in this connection, you validated yourself, your unique you, and you gave that self a voice.  Thus, you honored you.  Learn to get in touch with your feelings, learn to speak them out loud, and most importantly, learn to honor the wonderful you that is you.

You Deserve to be Loved – Believe it

Ever listen to that little voice inside your head that says those little ugly things?  Like:

You’re not smart enough

You’re not pretty (or handsome) enough

You’re not good enough

And my personal favorite:

You’re not worthy enough

Where do these voices come from and how did they get there?  If you said “your parents” you’re right.  In myriad thousand ways your parents probably gave you lots of negative messages – all of which derived from their own fears, their own struggles, and well, their own parents’ legacy of being imperfect and damaged human beings.  It also comes from society – your colleagues, your friends, people on the street, the media, you name it.  It’s everywhere seeping into the porous gray matter in your head and stewing until it becomes a constant refrain in your head.  It becomes your mantra that you repeat over and over and over.

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s a bunch of shit.  The biggest culprit is you for believing that crap in the first place.  It’s not your fault.  You didn’t know you were being programmed with sour grapes and hostile messages that were damaging your psyche and your soul.  You’re a tender person with a soft heart deep inside and you didn’t know how much these things hurt you, despite your tough skin persona.  Until, one day you wake up and realize there’s been this pattern your whole life of being in bad relationships, or not asking for the promotion you deserve and getting passed over, or always being the nice guy who finishes last, or being the best friend but never the lover.  It manifests in many different ways.  The common thing, though, is the deep seated belief that you don’t deserve to be loved.  It all points to this no matter which way you got there, what the specific messages were, or who and how you were rejected in your life that you took at reinforcement of this supposed fact.

But there’s hope and there is redemption.  The fact is, that it’s just not true.  And you have the power to decide what is true and what is not.  You have the power to believe what you want to believe.  And what you believe, makes your life.  In reality, you are actually a beautiful and caring person, a great friend, a wonderful adventurer, a funny pal, a passionate lover, a…..  You are all of these things and more.  You just never heard those messages, not as much or often anyway.  And you didn’t listen to those voices that told you these things, either.  Instead, you focused on the dark callings and let the light slip away from you.  Well, you are the light!  And you deserve to be loved.  The thing you need to do now is believe it.  The surest way to do that is to repeat it over and over and over.  Make it your new mantra “I deserve to be loved.”  Repeat it every day, several times a day, for days on end, until it finally starts to dawn on you – it becomes a core fabric of your being that this is, in fact, the truth.

Keep Your Power by Claiming it

So, I’m living vicariously through a girlfriend’s adventures with dating a new guy.  Not too long into it, she tells me her latest date with him was lovely and then says “I think figuring out the monogamy question might be tricky.  He seems to be into me enough… time will tell.”

As soon as I she told me this, I thought what is wrong with this picture?!  Do I get angry because the guy seems to want his cake and eat it too?  Or, do I shake my head at my own reflection I see in the mirror?  The one where I allow the situation to unfold on me versus taking the bull by the horns and defining what is acceptable and what is not?  Do I sit around and spend all my time and energy with this guy hoping he will fall totally in love with me and want to commit monogamy?  Then, I just wind up heart broken when he tells me he’s into me, but not that into me.  After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

This is a perfect example of giving your power away.  Let me explain, this guy has been chasing my girlfriend for weeks.  Connecting with her, giving her little gifts, and demonstrating other obvious signs that he’s interested in her.  She has the power in this situation.  She is the pursued, the shiny object, the glorious reflection of woman, the Aphrodite goddess.  And she commands full fidelity.  That her man is devoted to her in worship and does not have false gods before her.  The very first commandment Moses handed down was I am the Lord, thy God – Thou shall not have other gods before me.  In other words, there is only one and that is me.  No shades of grey here on whether you are monogamous or strictly monogamous, as if there is a difference.

If you do not define your boundaries on what is acceptable to you within a relationship, the lines will be drawn for you.  You may find yourself in no man’s land between the desert empty space of the enemy lines and your own encampment.   My advice to my girlfriend?  Have the conversation sooner rather than later.  Don’t wait for the man or anyone else to define things.  If you don’t own your power then you will wind up giving it away – for free.

 

Launched! Online Course in Secrets to Well Being

Hello – I just launched an online course that includes 14 lessons that deep dive into the secrets of well being and how you can incorporate them into the way you think and live to recover, heal, and transform your life.  I hope you’ll join me in a journey of personal transformation by taking this course.  You’ll learn a lot of things and come away with practical tips and actions you can take in your life to move onto a more fulfilling and enriching life path, immediately!

Uncover how to find your self love, purge the critical mind, let go of the past, drop limiting beliefs, and embrace a life of abundance.

Are you seeking to live a more fulfilling life?

Do you want to be free of that which holds you back from living your life to its fullest potential? Do you want to be fundamentally happy with your life and where you are going? I know I did.

Are you struggling with thoughts of doubt about your self-worth? Are you stuck continually rehashing things in your past? Are you numbing out in life and over-indulging in food or chemical substances? I know I was.

Are you wanting to lead a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, and joyful? Do you want to be well in head, heart, and soul, but don’t know how to recover, heal, and transform your life? I know I did.

What are you waiting for?

Join me on a journey of transformation. Learn the secrets to well-being that I incorporated into my life that got me onto a much better path and in a better place. By living the secrets to well-being I was able to:

  • Quit drinking
  • Quit smoking
  • Quit treating myself poorly and allowing others to treat me poorly
  • Stop letting life and other circumstances control my emotions and sense of well-being

Imagine what transformation you could achieve in your life if you learned the secrets to well-being!

What You’ll Learn

In this course, you’ll learn to:

  • Acknowledge life’s journey as a work in progress and be okay with the process
  • Find your self love and build a strong foundation of it
  • Let go the past and the things that hold you back from moving forward
  • Purge the critical internal mind and find your inner champion
  • Express your feelings and emotions in empowering ways
  • Own and claim your power to create your life as yours
  • Recover and cultivate your connection with the divine spirit
  • Learn ways to find abundance and embrace gratitude in your life
  • Stop fighting things in your life and let go that which serves you no good
  • Find forgiveness for yourself and others
  • Reintegrate the pieces of yourself and transform the stories you tell yourself
  • Write a new vision of your life story moving forward