I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine recently, where we discussed the varying responsibilities surrounding a serious problem within my own life.
During this conversation, we postulated that the responsibility for the existence of most problems in our lives were threefold: part of the fault lies with the other involved party, part of the fault is completely out of our control and last but not least, part of the fault lies within ourselves.
Most of us have a serious issue with that last one! Think back to when someone told you that something bad in your life was YOUR fault… How well did you receive that criticism? I’ll go out on a limb and suggest it probably didn’t go over well. And as well it shouldn’t. As a people, we’ve grown and developed to look for reasons outside of ourselves for the things that go wrong. We generally don’t want to believe that we, ourselves, are responsible for our own suffering. After all, why would I do something that causes me pain, right? It’s generally easier to blame someone else.
But the reality is that it’s true! In some ways, often through indirect channels, we are responsible for the good AND the bad in our lives. Whether through indirect words, actions or decisions, we are the result of our life’s choices. Once we realize this and make peace with that, we can begin to make peace with ourselves.
You can’t change the other involved party’s involvement. It’s like the old saying goes: “I can only control my own words, not how you react to them.” People will often cause issues in others for their own agenda. It doesn’t necessarily mean that their agenda is bad, but the resulting actions can sometimes cause strife in other people’s lives.
Here’s a good example… Think about the last time you got a speeding ticket. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it may have ruined (or at least damaged) the flow of your day. But that person is trying to contribute to the safety of our roads while trying to do his or her job. Their agenda is not BAD per say, but once you drive away, you’ve likely been left feeling angry and frustrated. Maybe you’re frustrated at the loss of money required to pay the fine. Maybe you’re frustrated because you believe the officer shouldn’t ticketed you. But the second part of the equation is that you obviously wouldn’t have gotten a ticket had you not been speeding, hence your part of the responsibility. The remainder is out of your control.
Although it’s a great example, some of you are probably thinking I’m off my rocker at the moment. But the reality of this is sound. Considering my background, I like to think of problems as being like a bullet from a gun. You have an incredible amount of control when dealing with a gun. You choose how well to clean and maintain the gun, whether or not to load it and what direction to aim it. You even have the choice as to whether you pull the trigger or not, although this may be influenced by outside sources. But once you pull the trigger, that bullet leaves the gun and is no longer in your control. It becomes too late to regret pulling the trigger and there is little you can do to stop the bullet. So I often say “It’s like a bullet from a gun. Once you pull the trigger, it’s too late…”
The bottom line is that we should never regret our choices. I’m repeating myself as I’ve covered this in a previous post, but it’s true. We are the culmination of our choices and any change in those choices would alter who we are in the here and now. And who we are in the here and now is pretty great. I think that as a people, we simply need to work harder on understanding that we have a responsibility for all aspects of our lives, good and bad. After all, if you want to see a rainbow, it kind of hard to complain about the rain. Nothing happens “just because”! All things happen for a reason; even when that reason may not be obvious.