Human, all too human is the need to apportion blame to factors outside ourselves. Blame the economy for lack of money, blame the weather for feeling bad, blame our partners for making us cheat on our diets and our parents for bequeathing undesirable genetics. The list never ends. And for most - if not all of us - it feels good to have an explanation for our misfortune if even in some minor way. It means things aren’t entirely fault.
But blame does not come without a cost. Without any degree of exaggeration every time you heap blame upon factors and people outside of yourself you give away something too precious for words. Pause for a moment and think what that might be. Think of a situation in your life where you desire improvement and look for where you have placed blame to explain why you are not where you want to be.
If you’re like most people you’re mind will flinch away from the answer as if glimpsing something grotesque in the flickering half-light. There seems to be a defensive mechanism within all of us that wants to protect the ego from radical self-inquiry. But if you have can force yourself to break down that barrier and stare unwaveringly at where you’re focusing accusation and why I can offer you something priceless in return.
So what is it that we sacrifice in externalizing blame? Quite simply we give away our power to effect change in the world and upon ourselves. Blame is nothing more than a negatively stated form of responsibility and power. This is a little understood yet profound truth. In every instance you decide to gift blame to an external agency you move the locus of power from yourself to somewhere else. You cast yourself in the role of victim and conjure about you an environment of oppressive influence.
If we refine these concepts to the area of body transformation this process is transparent. The client who blames their partner, colleagues or friends for causing them to miss training, drink too much or blow their diet has disempowered himself or herself. They have asserted that other individuals have greater influence over their choices than they do themselves.
If we are to believe Aristotle – and I do – that “we are what we repeatedly do.” Then we must guard against placing blame at all costs. Repeating the behaviour, if even in some small way, wires our brains for victimhood. There is no possible way to become an empowered, self-creating individual from this position. Moreover, it is unfair to those upon whom we place blame. To make someone else responsible for your dreams and ambitions is an unhealthy basis for any relationship.
So what do we do? How do we go from victim to author of our own destiny?
This is simultaneously a simple yet difficult undertaking, requiring the cultivation of absolute self-honesty. Are you ready?
Choose one important area of your life you want to improve, take ownership and write it down.
I would suggest making this a physical goal because it’s tangible and quantifiable. Write it down, be specific and be honest why it’s important to you. “ I want lose to weight because my friends are on a health kick” is a not going to work. This would be contingent on others involvement and has socialising overtones. You need to get down to the core reason for pursuing a goal otherwise it will continue to elude you. Consider answering this simple question, what will you feel/experience when you have achieved your goal? Answering this will lead you to the essence of your motivation. If you can’t get excited over this you need to choose another goal.
Be honest with the world
It took me a while to figure this one out but despite my best efforts most people are incapable of perceiving my unspoken thoughts. Leaving aside the psychically gifted, I assume this is true for most. Own the fact that you’re trying to make a change and communicate this with those close to you. Sincere proclamations are typically met with support but in the event this doesn’t happen, so what. The goal here is to be responsible for your own aims not to convince anyone else it’s worthwhile or logical.
3. Accept that there will always be challenges
Despite your best efforts it may occur that friends ply you with drinks, partners may be unsupportive, kids unruly, you may forget to prepare food and it may rain when you want to go for a run; these things are insubstantial. What matters is how you choose to respond to the challenge. If you choose to surrender to these challenges and pass the blame accept that you have disempowered yourself. You either want something to happen and prepared to do what is required or you don’t. The trick is not to get emotional about things.
It’s not uncommon when a combination of challenges envelops a situation for blame to be shifted towards the influence of timing; that the time is not right to action. This is perhaps the most insidious and debilitating place to lay blame, it will keep you stuck indefinitely in a quagmire of frustration. If you have a goal that you believe will improve your life experience, the perfect time to get started is now. There is no further need for discussion.
Accept that you are the only person who can change yourself
This is perhaps the most difficult concept for most people to comprehend. With the remote exception that you’ve been abducted by aliens and strapped to a probing table – in which case I doubt you’d be reading this anyway – within every passing moment you personally have the gift of choice. For good or bad, it is you that decides what food you consume, what you do with your body, with whom you associate, the thoughts you entertain. You alone choose to respond to people and situations with anger, despondency or elation. There is nothing external to you that forces these things to happen – just you.
Granted these concepts can be difficult to digest, I mean it seems self-evident that you should respond with anger when someone cuts you off it traffic but this again is a matter of choice. Events will always occur in the external world but the option to react rests with you. Embrace the sovereignty you have over your inner world, it is essential for changing the outer.
There is no one to blame, there is no thing to blame
We have established that blame is a negatively stated form of responsibility and power. As such the empowered individual can neither cast blame outside themselves or direct it inwards. This inverted form of blame is simply an exercise in self-masochism that serves no useful purpose. From now on remove blame and its sentiment from your vocabulary and mindset. If you find yourself deviating from your diet because your partner brought home pizza, no one is at fault you simply choose to exercise your power in a way that is at odds with your goals.