Posts tagged with ‘responsibility’

02 may

Let Go of Blame

MikeRobbinsNewMichelle and I were having dinner with some friends a few months ago and our friend Joel said, “I’m practicing giving up blame completely.”  As he said this, I found myself simultaneously inspired and confronted. As I’ve explored the idea of letting go of blame in recent months, I’ve been quite humbled and surprised to realize how pervasive blame is in our culture, my community, and in my own life.

How often do you find yourself blaming other people or circumstances for your stress, frustration, or for things “not being the way they ’should’ be?”

For me, blame shows up in various places and ways in my life.  Some of the most common focuses of my blame are my past, my family, the economy, people I don’t agree with, my body, my clients, my schedule, my responsibilities, and more. And, the harshest blame is usually reserved for me – blaming myself for making mistakes, not doing things “right,” and simply not being good enough.  Maybe you can relate to some of this?

While blaming other people, challenging circumstances, and even ourselves is common, understandable, and reinforced in our culture, it never leaves us with any real power or with the ability to make positive, healthy, and lasting change in our lives. Blame is about avoiding responsibility and not dealing with the real issues at hand.

One of the best analogies for this is that of an orange. If I have an orange in my hand and I squeeze it, what will come out of it?  Juice.  If you squeeze it, what will come out of it? Juice.  If we give it to a friend of ours and they squeeze it, what will come out of it?  Juice.  Why?  Because, that’s what’s inside the orange.  It doesn’t matter who squeezes it or even how it is squeezed, juice will always come out of the orange (because that’s what’s inside).

You and I are like oranges and our “juice” is emotion.  We have every possible emotion within us – joy, guilt, love, shame, gratitude, anger, peacefulness, fear, happiness, rage, excitement, sadness, and more.  As we walk through life, other people, certain situations, and specific personal thoughts and reactions “squeeze” out some of our own “juice” in the form of these emotions. However, instead of taking responsibility for our emotions, we blame the people around us, the situations that arise, and even ourselves for “causing” these feelings within us.

What if we stopped doing this and let go of blame?  This doesn’t mean we live in some unrealistic, Pollyanna world where nothing bothers us.  It also doesn’t mean that the things that have happened in our past, the relationships we currently have, and the important situations in our lives right now (and the ones that show up in our future), don’t impact us.  What it does mean, however, is that we take full responsibility for our lives, our reactions, and, more important, our emotions.

Here are a few things you can do or think about as you practice letting go of blame in your own life:

1)  Take inventory of who and what you blame. Start to notice, with empathy and compassion (i.e. without judging yourself), who and what you blame the most in your life.  Maybe it’s your work, your spouse, your past, your co-workers or clients, the state of the world, or other things or people.  The more specific and honest you can be about the focus of your blame, the more ability you’ll have to let go.  Remember, some of this blame may be overt (direct, and easy to notice) and, some of it may be more covert (hidden, subtle, and “justified” in such a way that it seems “true.”)

2)  Inquire into what it would be like to let go of blame. Start to ask yourself, especially with the specific people or situations where blame comes up a lot, what it would be like, look like, and feel like to let go of blame in your life.  Allow yourself to imagine this, think about it, talk about it, and ponder it.  Regardless of how easy or difficult you think it would be, just allow yourself to imagine your life without blame. Inquiry is a powerful tool when we use it consciously like this.

3)  Take responsibility for your reactions and emotions. In just about every instance, the person (including us) or situation that we blame brings about a specific emotion or reaction (or set of emotions and reactions) that we don’t like. Instead of blaming, what if we took responsibility for our reactions and emotions, and allowed ourselves to vulnerably acknowledge and express ourselves fully.  As Eleanor Roosevelt so brilliantly said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Letting go of blame allows us to be free, to take back our power, and to avoid the trap of thinking that someone or something else has the ability to dictate our experience of life.  Whether our life is “wonderful” or “difficult” is always up to us.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on May 2nd, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

28 oct

Why Is This Happening FOR Me?

MikeRobbins96Do you ever ask yourself the question, “Why is this happening to me?” Most of us do, especially when things aren’t going the way we want them to or we’re dealing with something that’s difficult or painful.

A few years ago I was talking to my friend Brian about this and he said, “If you change the word ‘to’ to the word ‘for’ in that question, it can change your life.” When Brian said this, it really resonated with me and I never forgot it.

Instead of asking ourselves, “Why is this happening TO me?” we could instead ask, “Why is this happening FOR me?” Wow – there’s a world of difference in those two questions. The first one leads us down a path of victimhood, martyrdom, or feeling as though there’s something wrong with us. The second one takes us in a direction of deeper growth, awareness, appreciation, responsibility, and healing.

Sadly, it often seems easier and is definitely more encouraged by the world around us to choose “Door #1″ (victimhood), than it is to choose “Door #2″ (growth and responsibility).

Why is this? We live in a culture that celebrates and reinforces victimhood. And while there are clearly people in our world who are victimized by the “wrongs” of society and others (and some of us have been victimized by people and situations in our own lives personally), the majority of the time you and I act, talk, and feel like “victims,” we’re not – it’s just a habitual way of thinking and being that we’re used to.

Most of us learned how to be victims at a very young age and had (and continue to have) lots of examples around us. In fact, victimhood is something we often used as a survival technique as children and adolescents. Although it doesn’t really feel good – feeling sorry for ourselves is actually a way to distance ourselves from deep and painful emotions, like sadness, hurt, loneliness, fear, anger, and despair. Because we don’t have the emotional capacity as kids or teens to fully experience and express our emotions in a healing and liberating way, we turn to victimhood and it helps us survive.

In our lives as adults, however, playing the victim not only acts as a “smokescreen” (keeping us from taking responsibility and feeling our real emotions), it also causes a great deal of harm in relationships, at work, with our health, and much more.

Asking ourselves why something is happening “for” us instead of “to” us, doesn’t mean we have to like what’s happening, necessarily. It also isn’t about blaming ourselves for “screwing things up.” This is about consciously choosing to look for the “gold,” see the lesson, and take advantage of the situations and circumstances that show up in our lives as the opportunities for growth that they truly are.

While feeling like a victim is normal, common, and even “natural” for us as human beings, it never leads us to greater power, joy, or happiness. The more willing we are to take responsibility for what shows up in our lives and to look for what we can learn from all that we experience, the more likely we are to heal, change, and transform in the positive way that we truly want.

Here are a few things you can think about and do to let go of victimhood and expand your capacity for growth and learning:

1) Notice when and where you feel like a victim. Pick a specific area of your life, or a specific situation or relationship, where you currently feel that “it’s not fair,” or “it shouldn’t be this way,” or you find yourself asking, “why is this happening to me?” While you may have more than one area or example of this in your life right now, it works best to focus on one area at a time. Notice what you think and say about this situation – to yourself and others. Most important, tap into how you’re truly feeling about it. Remember, victimhood is always a smokescreen – keeping us away from our authentic and vulnerable feelings. When you’re able to acknowledge and ultimately experience and express how you really feel, things can start to shift.

2) Ask yourself the question, “Why is this happening FOR me?” Related to this specific situation, asking yourself this question is something that can put you in a different and healthier inquiry about what’s really going on. Again, you don’t have to like what’s happening, but you can appreciate it (which means recognize the value of it). What are you learning? What is it forcing you to deal with, let go of, heal, or confront in your life? Another good question to ask yourself along these same lines is, “What good is here that I’m currently not seeing?” The more willing you are to look deeply at and learn from this situation, and less energy you put into being at the mercy of it, the more power you’ll have in dealing with it and growing in the process.

3) Talk to others authentically. While we often “commiserate” our victimhood with other people, it’s a better idea to share how we authentically feel (in a vulnerable way) and to engage in an inquiry with people we trust about why this situation may be happening FOR us. Other people are able to see and hear things we don’t. Leaning on the people in your life, talking to them in a real way, and asking for their support and feedback can help you move through the difficulty, find the gold, and deepen your learning – especially when you’re dealing with something challenging or painful like this. The less we share our issues with others looking for them to agree with our “story of woe,” and the more we share what we’re going through with a desire for support and empowerment; the more likely we are to heal, grow, and evolve.

Letting go of victimhood is not the easiest thing for us to do – most of us have years and years of experience. However, with compassion, consciousness, and a willingness to ask ourselves why things are happening for us (and not to us), we can liberate ourselves from victimhood in a beautiful and powerful way!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

24 jul

Stop Apologizing for Who You Are

MikeRobbins96Apologizing can be a bit tricky for me. While I pride myself on being someone who is able to look within, take responsibility, and resolve conflicts directly – I also know that my own arrogance and insecurity cause me to sometimes stubbornly refuse to apologize or, often more damaging, over apologize, which can include apologizing for who I am.

Being able to take responsibility for our impact on others, acknowledge and own our mistakes and shortcomings, and restore trust and connection with the people around us (i.e. what authentic apologizing is all about) are essential aspects of living a fulfilled life and creating healthy relationships.

However, many of us devalue, disrespect, and do harm to ourselves and those around us, by apologizing for who we are in a shame-based way – which usually comes from a place of shame (feeling as though we’re not good enough or there’s something inherently wrong with us).

Apologizing authentically is about taking responsibility for our actions, our impact, or our results, as an adult. This is called remorse – wishing we hadn’t done or said something, and taking actions to address and rectify the situation within ourselves, with others, or both.

Apologizing for who we are is often about us thinking or saying some version of, “I’m bad, it’s my fault, or don’t hate me,” as if we’re a child looking for validation or approval. This is a specific example of how shame shows up in our lives. And, no matter how much we might “apologize,” when it comes from this insatiable, shame-based place, we’re never able to shake the feeling of something being wrong with who we are.

The more we notice that we’re apologizing for who we are, the more opportunity we have to look deeper – acknowledge, feel, and express our shame, and in the process begin to heal ourselves in a real way.

While we all have “issues,” “flaws,” and “challenges” in life – at the deepest level, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of us. Most of us, myself included, spend and waste way too much time judging, criticizing, and being mean to ourselves.

Treating ourselves in this critical way never works – it doesn’t help us become better people, it doesn’t give us access to more love, power, or talent, it doesn’t make us more available for those around us who we want to support – it simply keeps us stuck in a negative story about who we think we are and what we think needs to be “fixed” about us so we can then live the life we truly want to live.

What if we stopped doing this to ourselves, stopped apologizing for who we are, and started honoring, valuing, and loving ourselves in an authentic way?

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on July 24th, 2010 in General, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,