We love to blame others. It is a favorite pastime, as much a part of American culture as baseball and apple pie. There are two major reasons we blame one another. The first is we have a false narrative about life that suggests something is wrong if it is not perfect, easy, comfortable, and completely filling. The second is a need for self-preservation. If something is wrong, it can’t be my fault. Has to be somebody’s fault. But can’t be me.
This leads us to constantly pointing the finger. If our circumstances aren’t perfect or don’t serve our ends, it must be because someone else is screwing up.
The world is certainly full of imperfect people. There are oppressors and perpetrators. People do hurt us and that is a valid thing to acknowledge. But we’ve diluted the difference between being hurt and being offended, among other things. The question is a question of ownership. And here are three things we own that can never be spawned off on others.
People do things to trigger our emotions. But the way we feel is personal. It is ours and ours alone. We develop emotions as a way to protect our values. Nobody can do something to make me angry. They can do something that triggers the anger I’ve put in place to protect my values. The difference may sound subtle, but is very important.When we give away the stewardship of our emotions to others, we hand over our power. Our ability. Our ownership and opportunity. It is easy to feel an eternal emotion that is connected to an external source and blame the latter for the former. But our emotions are ours.
What happens shapes the way we view the world. People and relationships influence our perceptions. Yet, they are factors that are impactful but not determinative. Our perceptions are ours to own. We can control the attitude we adopt.
We are not slaves to the narratives fed us, the people who model for us, or the experiences we’ve encountered. They are powerful weights. But they do not negate or overpower our ability to choose a perspective. It is something we have to own.