Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Messed Up Thinking #2: Blaming

It's so much easier to make it someone else's fault.  Your anger, your frustration, your disappointment, your sense of not being treated fairly, all seem simpler to blame on others.  There's only one problem with that: Most everyone else believes the same exact thing! So if everyone is running around seeing fault and blame in everyone else, the world ends up being a quagmire of hostility, frustration, hurt feelings, and destroyed relationships.

If you want to feel better in your life, then try holding this for one minute:  You are completely responsible for how you feel. Completely. This is a liberating concept for some, a terrifying concept for others.  As long as you hold other people accountable for your moods, thoughts, emotions, and experience, then you are bound to suffer.

This is not to imply that you are responsible for all the circumstances in your life.  You may love someone who is sick.  You may have recently lost a job.  You may have been physically injured.  These are all contexts where you may or may not have had any responsibility at all.  Your reaction, however, to these circumstances, is your responsibility. 

Taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings goes completely against what most of us learned as children.  We all have been conditioned to blame others and seek outside ourselves for peace.  Most people unquestioningly point the finger at someone else or something else when they are feeling unhappy.  But then that gives the person or that thing all the power.

How do you stop this pattern of messed up thinking? Try ONE day during which you take full responsibility for every feeling you have.  Just one! If you feel tired you say, "I am responsible for feeling tired." If you feel happy you say, "I am responsible for feeling happy." If you get really pissed off traffic you say, "I am responsible for feeling really pissed off in traffic." Even if it seems silly, take responsibility.

Again, this blog is for people who want to make choices that will lead to having an easier day.  Taking responsibility and ownership for your feelings is one of the most effective ways to do this.  Try it, and let me know how it goes!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." 


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