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April 23, 2013

Consider The Problem Might Be You


“If you own this story you get to write the ending.” ―Brené Brown

Last week, I was talking to a friend and I couldn’t help but notice that she kept saying virtually the same thing, about multiple different people. Every statement was a variation of this person was being unfair, or that person just doesn’t understand me, or he is just self-absorbed, or she is just a bitch. 

To be honest with you, the entire conversation had me depressed. You already know I am not a huge fan of negativity in general and the whole thing drained the hell out of me. But by the time she finished complaining about everyone else, I couldn’t help but tactfully point out the one common denominator in all the situations: her.

I think the reason I was able to see it objectively is because I faced my own BS in much the same way a couple years ago. And luckily, she and I have a strong enough friendship that she can take a little tough love from me :) And we were able move the conversation into a more constructive direction eventually. But I think it takes a serious change in perspective to address a situation like this. And a good hard look in the mirror.

The whole conversation was enlightening to me on many levels. First, I wondered why I don’t have a lot of people in my life who are like she was describing. Then I thought, how could she have that many in hers when I had none? Weird. Was she just a push-over who people felt like they could bully? Or was it maybe her perception of those situations that drove her to feel as she did? Did she simply see things differently than I did? Or maybe her insecurities got the better of her and she went into defensive mode easily?

It was probably a combination of all those factors. But more important than pondering the WHY is pondering the SOLUTION. Besides, I am a huge advocate of taking responsibility and taking action.

We all know how good it can feel to play the victim. When we defend and blame others, we get to be the one mistreated, the one who is able to garner pity or be the one done wrong. I get that, 100%. And I’ve done it a thousand times in my own life. But over the last couple years, I’ve come to the realization that:

I can play the biggest victim on earth, but at the end of the day still nothing has changed.

I’m still stuck with our misery. I’m still in a shitty situation where I feel helpless and at the mercy of other people or situations.

Well, eff that.

I finally came to the realization that if I have a problem with “other people” and the same issues keep coming up for me across multiple relationships, the problem has to be … me. This was a scary realization because who wants to take the onus for creating their own unhappiness? But over time, I realized that it’s not about assuming blame or pointing the finger, but ultimately about SOLUTIONS and outcomes.

If we want a different outcome, we have to act in a different way.

I mentioned in my mindset reflections blog for 2012 that one of the major insights I had last year was to take 100% responsibility for every single situation I find myself in, regardless of who put me there–whether it was my fault or someone else’s. Because the alternative is waiting for someone else to take the reigns and change my situation. Well, again, eff that. I could be waiting forever. And many of us do wait to take back our power, because we are too caught up in playing the victim to realize that by simply taking action, we can easily change our outcomes.

I don’t know about you, but between choosing to wait for affirmation from other people or for others to “wise up” and admit their part in my misery, OR choosing to simply move on and improve my own happiness through my actions, I’ll choose the latter every time. It’s liberating. And I never have to depend on anyone else again. 

I no longer need people to admit their part in my misery because I am already moving past it, doing what I can to improve my own circumstances. I take 100% responsibility for my own happiness.

So next time you find yourself blaming other people, a coach, an expert, a diet or anyone else for what you perceive as doing you wrong, take a chance and look in the mirror. Consider … the problem might be you. Or at least your own perception. Can you make a different choice? Can you dig a little deeper and assume responsibility for changing things?

This is a toughie, and it takes practice. But to get started, all you need to do is notice. If you find yourself blaming and complaining, check yourself. Ask, is there something in this moment that I can do to be happier or more fulfilled? Maybe I don’t have to take things as personally, or perhaps I can give other people the benefit of the doubt, or realize that people just do what they do, and perhaps I’m taking it poorly?

I warned you today was about tough love :) but you know that I love you, and I am always rooting for you to reach your highest potential, be as happy and fulfilled as possible. And part of my personal passion is delivering the message that your happiness is 100% IN YOUR HANDS. If you just have the courage to take charge of. Do you? Ox, Jill

Related: Teach People How to Treat You

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