Chapter 22 ~ Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
When something doesn’t meet our expectations, many of us operate with the assumption, “When in doubt, it must be someone else’s fault.” You can see this assumption in action almost everywhere you look—something is missing, so someone else must have moved it; the car isn’t working right, your expenses exceed your income, so your spouse must be spending too much money; the house is a mess, so you must be the only person doing your part; a project is late, so your colleagues at work must have not done their share—and on and on it goes.
This type of blaming thinking has become extremely common in our culture. On a personal level, it has let us believe that we are never completely responsible for our own actions, problems, or happiness. On a societal level, it has led to frivolous lawsuits and ridiculous excuses that get criminals off the hook. When we are in the habit of blaming others, we will blame others for our anger, frustrations, depression, stress, and unhappiness.
In terms of personal happiness, you cannot be peaceful while at the same time blaming others, Surely there are times when other people and/or circumstances contribute to our problems, but it is we who must rise to the occasion and take responsibility for our own happiness. Circumstances don’t make a person, they reveal him or her.
As an experiment, notice what happens when you stop blaming others for anything and everything in your life. This doesn’t mean you don’t hold people accountable for their actions, but that you hold yourself accountable for your own happiness and for your reactions to other people and the circumstances around you. When the house is a mess, rather than assuming you’re the only person doing your part, clean it up! When you’re over budget, figure out where you can spend less money. Most importantly, when you’re unhappy, remind yourself that only you can make yourself happy.
Blaming others takes an enormous amount of mental energy. It’s a “drag-me-down” mindset that creates stress and disease. Blaming makes you feel powerless over your own life because your happiness is contingent on the actions and behavior of others, which you can’t control. When you stop blaming others, you will regain your sense of personal power. You will see yourself as a choice maker. You will know that when you are upset, you are playing a key role in the creation of your own feelings. This means that you can also play a key role in creating new, more positive feelings. Life is a great deal more fun and much easier to manage when you stop blaming others. Give it a try and see what happens.