When I coach a client, I am very aware of blame and excuses. It comes across in the way clients speak and behave. Let’s face it, it is much easier to use these to justify where we are at emotionally rather than take responsibility. This is very true of recovering addicts, but also true of anyone in a negative emotional state.
When I was an addict it was easier to blame my father for my addiction. He was an alcoholic, his Father was an alcoholic, my half-brother was an alcoholic. So it is genetic that I have an addictive personality, or this is what I told myself and others. I have had a tough life/upbringing, that is why I am an addict. As such it is a reasonable excuse that I am an addict and an alcoholic right? It is his/their fault! Also an excuse and blame. I of course ignored in this justification that my father had five children and 60% of them never were addicts or alcoholics. But I found a way around that too. The kids that were never addicts were girls… ha ha so the alcoholic gene is only passed to the males. Do you see how this goes? How easy it is to justify addiction?
This is true not only for addicts but for other people in a negative state in their lives. It is someone else’s fault. Or something else outside of ourselves. The political situation, the economy, COVID, by boss, my wife/husband, the climate etc etc etc.
Here is the fact, and it is an important one to take responsibility of everything in our lives is of our own choice, past, present and future.
It is our choice to blame external forces that are beyond our control or to take responsibility for our own actions and states of minds, present and future.
Where we are now is the result of our previous choices and so is where we go in the future.
“But you don’t understand, my situation is different” Is it really?
My mentor talks of the two areas in anyone’s life. Two circles. The circle of control and the circle of influence. The important thing to understand is that you have no power over influence. Driving in peak conditions is a perfect example. What control do you have on the amount of traffic, the way others drive, the traffic light turning red, the accident ahead? The only thing you have control over is your attitude towards it. You could take an attitude of road rage, shouting and screaming, profanity and showing specific fingers. Alternatively, you could have an attitude of patience and tolerance. Which one serves you better? Let us face it, the only one who is affected by negative response to an external stimulus is one’s self. If you allow the circle of influence to determine your current and future happiness you become it’s slave.
Let’s look at this from the point of view of an addict. I need to drink when I get home because of stress (or other external stimuli to blame). I am an addict because my friends all use drugs or alcohol and I need to fit in (or other excuses). Until we as addicts take ‘control’ of ourselves and stop using external factors (of which we have no control) to blame, recovery from addiction is near to impossible.
By making excuses and blaming others we are giving ourselves PERMISSION to not change!
Again this is not only pertinent to addicts but to anyone in a ‘stuck state’. Let’s look at COVID and lockdown. This is perhaps an extreme example but it does put this article into better context. What control do we have over this world pandemic and lockdown? What control do we have over the knock on effect to the world economy, the way we do business, changes in social norms, human behaviour? Yet there are people who are re-engineering their business’s that are busier then ever. People that were working for a boss finding ways to make money due to pay cuts or loosing their jobs. People who are embracing the time effectiveness of meeting virtually through technology. And then there are others who are cocooning and waiting for Armageddon.
Following other world crises like the second world war, there was incredible and far reaching benefits. The industrial revolution was brought about by the second world war. In this environment some people that came from meagre backgrounds rose to be captains of industry and commerce. What separated them from those that remained in poverty and distress? It was not only those that had money or previous influence who succeeded, it was those who were proactive rather than those that blamed circumstances and others. Those that didn’t make excuses.
What is your current internal and external dialogue? Become aware of it. It is within this dialogue that you can determine if you are being proactive, taking control of your situation and circumstances or if you are blaming and making excuses. Most importantly if your internal dialogue is not serving you, change it. It isn’t easy, but change is possible. Most people fear change, even change of attitude, but it is possible and necessary. We all know that change is inevitable, resisting it causes stress, anxiety and depression. Embracing it creates possibility and opportunity.