Sunday Challenge #3: Own It

by Elizabeth on January 15, 2012

This week is hard.

It’s not hard like climbing a mountain hard.  But it’s hard.  Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

We spend an inordinate amount of time (most of us, at least), living in blame.  We blame other people, we blame ourselves, we blame the universe at large for sucking so badly that it’s just not happening for us.  (Insert whatever it is you want in place of it.)  Blame’s become one of those things that can be second nature, really — something happened, so it’s time to either point some fingers or, worse, beat ourselves silly about it.

This week, all of that stops here.

We’re going to do something kind of radical this week.  All of us.  Even you in the back, there, trying to look invisible.

We’re going to stop blaming, and start taking responsibility.

Responsibility does not mean guilt.  It doesn’t mean you get a free ticket to ride the How Many Ways Can We Make Ourselves Feel Like Dirt Clods train.  In fact, it’s the complete and total opposite.

When you blame, even yourself, you’re saying that you’re powerless.

This thing that happened — whatever that thing may be — is out of your hands.  Maybe you caused it.  Maybe someone else caused it.  Maybe a whole slew of people disappointed the crap out of you and continue to do so on a regular basis.  You got hurt, or other people got hurt.  Bad things happened, and now, there’s nothing you can do.  You’re just left with the pieces of whatever it was you were doing, trying not to cut yourself again on the shards.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Listen:  shit happens.

I know, saucy words.  But it’s true.  It happens.  And it’ll happen again, I’ll guarantee it, because it’s one of those ways the universe likes to teach us lessons when we decide not to listen to the subtle clues that it gives.  A friend used to tell me that God whispers at you when He wants you to learn something…and if you don’t listen, He gets out the cosmic Clue-By-Four and whacks the living crap out of you until you get it.  Which is so, so true, no matter what your personal belief system might be.

The problem is that most of us aren’t looking for the lesson in all of this beating.  We’re too busy beating ourselves up and pointing fingers, so sure that it’s XYZ‘s fault, that we couldn’t see the lessons if they were spontaneously tattooed on our eyelids while we slept.  We just stay in that place of shock and blame and disappointment, and slowly make ourselves crazy.

The antidote to blame is responsibility.

Here’s another fairly harsh truth:  Everything that happens in this life really is  your doing.

Yeah, I mean everything.  Sure, you didn’t make the tornado that took out your house in a whirling mass of wind.  But you chose to live there.

(And yes, I know there are things we have no control over, so no emails about all the exceptions to the rule.  The reason they call them exceptions is that they’re just that: not the rule.  And I’d even argue that most of the things we think we have no control over, we absolutely do…at least in our response to them…but I’ll concede: there are things that definitely don’t count as our fault.  We’ll talk about that later this week.)

When you take responsibility for your part in whatever it is that’s happened to you so far in your life, you do something amazing.

You take back your own power.

The rest of the world can just go scratch, for all you care.  Because when you take responsibility without blame or the inevitable beating up of yourself, you’re finally able to have the clarity to see what it is you can learn from all that crap.

You get to open your eyes while the rest of the world sits around moping about how crappy everything is.  And I’d go so far as to say that you are, in that very instant of responsibility, helping to change the world with your perspective.  You’re not part of the moping pandemic.  You’re in a position to move past your own crap and get to a place where you can teach what you’ve learned to the world, or at least your part of it.

So this week, we’re doing the impossible:  we’re taking responsibility.

Your challenge, if you should choose to accept it, is deceptively simple:

You’re going to keep a list.  You don’t have to do anything with this list yet, but at the end of the week, we’ll talk about what this list is good for and how you can use it as what might be the most powerful tool in your toolbox.

This week, in a journal or a notebook, or on the backs of napkins…whatever…keep a list of every single thing you feel guilty about.  Every situation in your life that’s being poked at by someone else.  Every time some dipstick makes some comment that pushes one of your buttons and makes things worse.  Every time that guy at work throws you under the bus.  Every time you’re sitting alone, thinking of all the ways you could have done things differently to not have whatever it is you have now.  And every time some twinkweasel is a dick to you on the internet.

Write it all down.  Every time you blame anyone — yourself or others.  Write it all down.

(Almost feels like a Festivus Airing of the Grievances, doesn’t it?  It won’t, for long.  Just trust me.)

Have a great week, folks.

It may be a hard one, but remember:   you’re already armed with a positive attitude and a sense of awareness, so if things feel too heavy, fall back on those.  They’re tools for a reason.

We’ll see you in the forums!



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