Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Playing the Blame Game

“To the extent that other people are our problem, that’s the problem.”
                Stephen Covey, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”

I was somewhat taken aback when I first ran across this statement. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it began to make.

This is not to say that other people do not have problems, maybe tons of them, but those problems belong to them, not to us. Our problem is to figure out how to cope with our "problem people," how confront them, negotiate with them, accept them, and/or distance ourselves from them.

When these become or challenges, we gain the power to do something about them. But if we define others as being our problem, we render ourselves powerless until or unless they change.

I often hear rationalizations like “If she/he gave me the attention and love I needed, I wouldn’t have looked for it elsewhere,” or “I he/she didn’t get on my nerves so badly, I wouldn’t lose my temper the way I do.”

Or I often hear some variation of “She/He knows just how to push my buttons.” The fact is, all of our “buttons,” as well as the wiring behind them, belong to us, and the reactions we have to our “button pushers” are entirely our own.

So the sooner we rid ourselves of our “He made me/She made me” excuses, the better off we’ll be.

The above illustration is by the late Lee Eshleman, in my  "Lasting Marriage: The Owners' Manual."
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