Monday, June 24, 2013

Yes, it is your fault.

I used to have a roommate who had just split with the woman he'd been shacking up with. (there's that term again)  At the time, I was just starting to pull myself up out of divorce.  

As you can imagine, we weren't exactly the dynamic duo.  The only time the townhouse got cleaned properly was when one of us had a date; and to be perfectly honest, that didn't happen much.

At one point, as he was bemoaning the loss of his relationship, the temporary loss of custody and visitation with his daughter, and his unemployment he said something that a lot of us have said at one point or another.

"It seems like no matter what I do, I just can't get ahead.  It's like all these things keep going wrong and there's nothing I can do about it.  It's like the whole world is against me."

Now, a good friend would probably have listened, reassured him that things will get better, and maybe bought him a beer.  Well, maybe not a good friend, but a good roommate.  

However, I did something a lot less nice, but also a lot more honest.

I looked him in the eye and told him, "that's a load of crap."

What I had already figured out, and he was just beginning to learn, is one of the Big Ugly Truths™ of life:

Yes, it is your fault.

Whether we're talking about wonderful things, horrible things, or your average run of the mill things, the simple truth is that it's almost always your fault.

Can't stand your boss? - Too bad, you took the job and you could choose to take another.

Fat? - It's not big bones.  It's eating more calories than you burn.

Did your husband or wife cheat on you and then walk out? - You either married a bad person or treated them so badly that they became one.  Maybe a little of both.  Either way, it's largely your fault.

Now, I'll admit that sometimes things happen that are truly not our fault.  However, they're the exception.  "Not your fault," would mean that you got struck by lightning.  While in doors.  In a house with a lightning rod...

The fact that you didn't see it coming does not absolve you.  If you want bad things to stop happening (more than you want sympathy) then you have to start admitting that they were at least partially your fault, and figure out what you need to do differently.

Let's say your company has done some cutbacks, and you've been laid off.  A lot of people would look at that say, "this one wasn't my fault,"  but they're wrong.

Did you work so hard they wouldn't want to do without you?

Did you make sure that you built stronger relationships with everyone in your office than anyone else there?

Did you make sure that you were going to work for a stable company before you accepted the job?

Did you really do everything you could to make your company successful?

I know that a lot of the details really are beyond our control; i.e. - really not your fault.  However, we all have to remember that no matter how many of the details are beyond our control, there are also a lot of details that are entirely up to us, and the reason things go wrong is not because the whole world is against you.

I've always sort of hated the old adage, oft used by Christians of all stripes, that everything happens for a reason.  The last thing any of us wants to hear when we've just been kicked in the groin is that it happened for a reason; regardless of whether it was an emotional, professional, financial or even a literal kick to the groin.  We especially don't want to be told it was for a reason when nobody seems to have a reason handy.  However, often times, the reason is really right in front of us.

The reason, is that we are responsible for the consequences of all our actions and choices.