“My parents didn’t let me study what I wanted to”, “I didn’t have enough support to pursue my goals in life”. “My parents never understood me/ weren’t there for me”, “I was bullied at school”, “We never ate healthy at home”. The list of excuses we like to use to justify what’s holding us back in life, is long and offers options for all occasions and needs.
Outspoken or silently, some people tend to blame what they perceive as their failures to other people or things. More often than seldom, it’s parents, school and the media that take the hit. Now, I would be a liar, if I said I have never blamed anything on my parents or other people. I would also be a liar, if I said no one else but us, is ever to blame.
The truth is, that especially as children, we are very easily affected by our surroundings, whether that is our family, our school environment or the world as it’s presented to us through the media. Children are looking for attention, love, guidance. They’re looking to be part of something, to fit it and they often do what they’re being told is right, in order to get what they need, without thinking if that’s what they want.
It’s equally true, that our parents make mistakes. I think in fact, ALL parents make mistakes, bigger or smaller, simply because they think with their own minds and not with their children’s. Some parents make mistakes because they are very eager, overprotective, worried. Some, because they’re more absent, self-absorbed or lost themselves. Friends, siblings, also make mistakes. The media makes money.
Yes, in this life we are being told very often who we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to look like, do, want even, in order to be good enough, worthy enough. And yes, we might have had difficult childhoods, we might have been bullied, labelled, hurt, overlooked. My question is; When is it, that it’s not ok, to blame everything we are not doing, to others?
Is it really, what happened 10, 20 even 30 years ago, that’s making you miserable? Why is that bully’s voice still lingering in your head, depriving you of your confidence today? Is it really your family’s fault that you, today, at the age of 30, or 40 are still not doing things you like? I understand the pain people feel, especially if the “wrong doer” hasn’t apologized, or understood their mistake. I think however, that way of thinking is disabling for two reasons;
First of all, the past and other people cannot change. What’s done, cannot be undone and we can’t demand that others think they way we do. We can’t insist that someone with very different views on life understands us, but we can take some distance from that person. We can set limits to how much power they have over our lives and happiness. By focusing on what we can’t change, we don’t explore what we actually CAN change to be happier. Most importantly, we forget that it’s actually US who have control and decide over our own lives as adults.
Yes, that’s what adulthood is about. It’s about freedom of choice. Dissolving the illusion that someone else still is in charge for us, when we are well grown is very liberating and rewarding. It basically means, we can finally do what we want! If you want to study something else, there’s a way to do it and no one is holding you back. However, as everything in this life, it comes at a cost.
By focusing on what we can’t change, we don’t explore what we actually CAN change to be happier.
Freedom is intertwined with assuming responsibility for our own lives, choices and actions. Eventually, freedom results into facing our own shortcomings. Adulthood gives us the green light to do what we want so, why don’t we do it?
I used to blame the weather a lot for not attending regularly classes at university, or even the buss that took such a long time. The problem however, was that I didn’t think I was good enough to make it through it and only when I admitted that to myself, I could work on it and actually manage to do it. And it went better than I thought it would. And this, is the second reason why I think blaming things on others doesn’t help.
If we want to achieve something, then looking for obstacles inside rather than outside is the way to go. It’s usually things like fear of failure, rejection, or even ageing that keep us back in life. When we’re aware of it, we can either work on these things, or accept them and find a different way to cover our needs and be happy. Either way, a person in control of their life –regardless how perfect that life is- is a person happier and more satisfied than a person, who has put up a white flag and constantly points their finger to others.
If we want to achieve something, then looking for obstacles inside rather than outside is the way to go.
Published by Eleni Riga-Johansen