Memo, 8, the youngest of four grandchildren at our house, became mad when his mother sent him back to his room after he was caught watching TV before school. He already knew he was grounded for the rest of the week for an incident the night before. The announced guidelines are the children could be outside till 6pm but if any of them wanted to use technology they had to come in before 6pm because technology time is over at 6pm. He knew the guidelines but still threw a fit when he came in at 6pm and wanted technology time. This caused his grounding for the rest of the school week. He knew he was grounded when he came out to watch TV before school. With all the information and knowledge he still became mad at his mom for sending him back to his room.
Notice that with the directions and guidelines he still became mad and blamed other people. Nothing was his fault. He took no responsibility for his actions and his anger. Everything was someone else’s fault. “Wow, that’s childish. Exactly like a child,” we think.
Then what about us big people, the grown-ups, who do the same. I know I do. Even though I had a part in the event, results, consequences yet I blame other people and things around me. See how early we learn this behavior then perpetuate it as we grow up.
What’s the purpose of this? Blame. If something happens someone must be blamed. Better for it to be someone else’s fault than ours. I know have been there and still go there. For me it I do not want to blame myself. If I do I know I am going to beat myself up for it. If the blame goes a different direction I don’t have to beat on myself.
What if there is another way? No blame. No beating up self. Yes, it’s possible. It’s called responsibility. Consider that blame is disempowering. Even if the blame is placed on someone else it is of course disempowering for them but for us, too. Responsibility is empowering. The point is to be responsible for my part, without self-blame, and let their part go. Let them handle their part how they choose. We all know when we are wrong anyway. We do. They do. Both sides want to avoid beating up self. No one must take a beating though.
Is this selfish? No. For each of us our first responsibility is self. Somewhere along the line we pick up that being our best, taking responsibility for self, standing up for self is selfish. It is not because if we do not stand for self we cannot stand up for anyone else. If you are a leader, teacher, mentor, parent take this to heart. Empower yourself to empower others.
Being responsible is the high road. And its road you may travel alone at times. Somewhere in life we take on that being alone means you did something wrong. It may mean you did something right. The opportunity is find other travelers who also feel alone. Bond with them. Travel together. Enlighten and empower each other. Be light in a world that has become too comfortable with darkness.