But judging yourself — and being judged by others — is not easy. It gets very psychological, very fast. Denial, deflection, and other defenses spring up. And most people find it very difficult to stay balanced.
On the one extreme there are those who blame themselves — for just about everything.
Other people don’t seem to have this problem — it’s always someone else who created the problem — and nothing is ever their fault.
It gets even more confusing.
I’ve noticed that the people who seem on the surface to blame themselves all the time, actually tend to refuse accountability. For example they will say things like: “I’m just not good at this.” As if to say, even if it is my fault, you shouldn’t expect a different result next time.
On the flipside, the people who deflect blame — who say things like, “The computer system runs too slow,” or “My team is absolutely terrible,” etc. — secretly hate themselves. They feel frustrated not with the inadequacy of other people, but ashamed of their own incompetence, because their standards of competence are just so incredibly high.
On both extremes, the root of the problem is flawed thinking. It took someone else to point this out to me.
I was talking about a period of my life, a year approximately, when everything seemed to go straight to hell.
“God really punished me.”
“What? Why would you say that?”
“Because obviously. Look at all the bad things that happened.”
“God wanted you to learn.”
At that I had to go quiet.
It was the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning. The storm in your mind when you suddenly perceive reality.
All those bad things — what I was calling “punishment” — those were God’s way of getting my attention. (You can call this belief the Universe, if you prefer.)
I do believe we occupy this lifetime only to carry out a mission. The point is not just to get it done though. We are also supposed to learn along the way.
Looking at things as a perpetual victim of circumstance — you’re either always incapable or always suffering from the incredible foolishness of others — clouds your ability to perceive this fact.
You go through life in victory, in control, as a non-victim when you take an empowered approach to the risks and mistakes that you have chosen to make. When you stand up and deal with the circumstances in which you find yourself at any given moment. When you decide that you will learn from everything, even things that hurt you terribly.
You do other people a service when you think of your interactions with them as a form of performance appraisal. The feedback you give comes to them not only through your words, but also and primarily through your body language, your tone of voice, your actions, your consistency, and the deeds they see you do completely unrelated to them.
Life is about learning. Punishment is not, and should not be, about gleefully inflicting pain.
It is difficult but powerful to take upon yourself accountability.
Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal’s own. Public domain. Photo via Pixabay: