If there is a problem I immediately go into a place of wondering what I might have done to cause it. Not always. Sometimes I blame or get angry but generally, I go to my thinking place and try to figure out what it means, in the bigger picture of the universe. I replay the incident, relentlessly, until I figure out what I could have done to alter the outcome. I have always seen this as a strength, the ability to self reflect. But lately I have begun to recognize that some of that self-reflection is unhealthy. All things are not my fault. I think taking “the blame” for all things is a sign of low self-esteem. And I am on a journey of making peace with myself and my “issues”. In the process of learning to really cherish who I am, I have paid less attention to what I think and feel and more to what the rest of the world is doing, thinking and feeling. I have been noticing something that surprises me.
There are a lot of people in the world who cannot self reflect. Or will not.
If I am leaning too heavily on taking all the blame for all things, there are a hell of a lot of people leaning too heavily on taking absolutely no responsibility for the circumstances of their lives.
I know a man who can’t get along with his co-workers. In job after job, he has conflict with his co-workers. In his current job, he has constant problems playing the “sand box” with the other kids. If you ask him why, he will give a thousand excuses for why the conflict exists. A grown man who has been in the workforce for 40 plus years, cannot self reflect to try to figure out why he keeps having the same conflict with his co-workers. He sits in his office, feeling excluded, frustrated and misunderstood…probably angry…and never once does he ask himself, “I wonder what I could do to improve the circumstances of my work life.”
Another woman I know has relationship after relationship that ends badly. She is not friends with anyone she has ever dated. None. She makes fun of these X’s, assigns them snarky nicknames and blames them, for all things and any conflict or bad juju that surrounds the relationship or how it ended. She actually feels sorry for herself that she keeps ending up with these awful people. It’s gotten to the point where the people around her just tune her out when she bad mouths her X’s. She has become the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons…blah, blah, blah…another crazy X for you…yeah right.
Never once has she sat back and asked herself what the common element is in these relationships. Not once. She just has bad luck. She just doesn’t choose well. There are a lot of crazy ass people in the world and she keeps dating them. Poor thing.
I have a friend who recently wanted a promotion. She got a no. She was angry, resentful, hostile and upset. I was a little surprised cause the promotion was a stretch and she hasn’t earned the right to it. And she’s had some issues at work. Instead of saying to herself, I am going to get busy correcting the issues I have had and prove myself worthy of this promotion, she turned on the angry and made herself look like an ass.
So here’s the thing…
It’s a fine line.
Between self-reflection that can turn insular, introspective, DEPRESSIVE can cause you (me) to isolate yourself and live in fear of conflict.
And narcissistic, blaming, unhealthy, incapable of accepting responsibility for your life, your actions, your mistakes kind of shit.
All humans make mistakes, do stupid shit, all humans sometimes say the wrong thing, hurt people’s feelings, do things they regret, react to pain by being angry or acting like an asshole. We are all just human. We are driven by emotions and sometimes it gets the best of us.
And when it does, we self reflect a little, apologize when we need to, if we are healthy.
But the point of this blog is the fine line, finding the balance between the two extremes. Because in an interesting way, they have a similar effect, they both isolate us from others. Low self-esteem, accepting too much responsibility for things isolates us from being connected to the world in the same way that blaming, angry, narcissism isolates us from others. One is because we are afraid of conflict and the other extreme is because everyone else is afraid of us.
So I want to find that middle road: a healthy self-esteem, the ability to balance self-reflection. I want to walk the fine line.
To have a happy peaceful life. And the examples I used, the other extreme, I hope they find it too.