“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” – Michael Jackson
“It’s not you, it’s me.” It’s a cliche line used when breaking up with someone to take the onus for the end of the relationship. It’s also something I’m trying to live by every day.
“It’s not you”, the man who cuts me off in traffic–
“It’s me”, the one who has to let go of anger that surfaces.
“It’s not you”, child who challenges my authority or brings me to my knees in exhaustion–
“it’s me”, a parent who is learning what it means to love unconditionally.
There is a proverb that says “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” What kind of reflection do you see today?
Look closely. Is there anger, resentment, bitterness, fear? Unresolved issues and deep-rooted grudges will not stay neatly contained like a package awaiting the day it is to be opened. Rather, they will ooze into every part of your life, wreaking havoc, whether you intend them to or not.
Former Major League centre fielder and inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame Willie Mays said, “What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all.”
The problem is most of us take the state of our hearts and minds at face value. We accept the state they’re in at the present moment, often times excusing their flaws, and don’t give any thought to our role in changing them.
Don’t give someone else the blame, or responsibility, for the state of your own thoughts and spirit. We all have circumstances and people who have shaped us, for better or worse. But it’s what we do with the hand life deals us that makes more of a difference.
Here are three ways to take more responsibility for your own life.
1. Do some self-analysis. Whenever something happens that causes you to want to react negatively, ask yourself how you contributed to the situation. Are your kids aggravating you by being more rambunctious than usual? Perhaps you are not giving them the attention they require at this moment. This isn’t about placing the blame, but rather, it’s about starting to become aware of how we oftentimes play more of a role in our situations than we care to admit. We are fantastic at playing the victim, but until we acknowledge our own responsibilities for our actions and feelings, we can’t change them.
2. Take daily action. There is a proverb of Solomon that says “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” We want to be more patient. We want to have more joy. We want to be people of character. Wanting something, no matter how badly you do so, doesn’t make it happen. After seeing in your self-analysis where to improve, now it is time to take actions each day to change. It takes work. It might require seeking outside counsel in learning methods for change. Don’t be discouraged though, because with daily attention and effort, you will reap the rewards.
3. Keep moving forward. Queen Elsa was onto something when she said “I’m never going back, the past is in the past.” Unfortunately, we aren’t scripted for a guaranteed happy ending, and life rarely takes such predictable turns as in a movie. We all regress. Whether it’s having a slice (or three) of cake eight days after your diet began, or snapping on your spouse after you vowed to be more patient. Don’t fold it in just yet. We’re all in this together, daily striving, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding. It’s whether or not you are able to pick yourself back up and keep on progressing that makes the difference in the end. We’re all afraid of failing. That’s why we usually put up a facade for others, especially on our toughest days. It’s getting back up and trying it again (and again) that will build the strongest character of all.
So the next time you want to play the blame game, stop. Take a moment for reflection, take some steps for change, and don’t ever give up.