When you point a finger at someone else, three fingers point back at you. It’s not just a Zen adage, it’s the truth. Literally point your pointer finger and then twist your wrist ever so slightly, revealing three pinned back fingers nestled in your palm. Those three fingers say, “the majority rules.”
Now that you’re in the hot seat, let’s examine what it means to take responsibility -– not find fault –- for yourself. Assuming responsibility for your actions simply means taking or possessing the outcome of any situation. Buddhist philosophy espouses that each cause we make in the present has a direct karmic effect in the future. So if you’re having a rough day and hit the car in front of you because “they were too slow” or if you yell at your significant other because “they were insensitive,” it’s actually you controlling your immediate environment. But instead of realizing this, we foist the blame and point the finger at others, distilling our own karmic power, ignoring the law of cause and effect.
We’ve all been given the ability to choose our own destiny or path in life, but when it veers off in an uncomfortable direction, we’re quick to assign responsibility to someone else. We do it in all sorts of ways. We blame people when mistakes are made at work, or take credit for others’ work, we vent and take our stress out on others, and generally find fault before we look in the mirror. Rarely do we take a step back and think, “Could I have done something different? What will I do better?”
It’s when we take these hard glances at ourselves that we become closer to evolving. Our growth experience has a direct relationship to how quickly we reach our destiny. You can’t grow if you don’t own up to your actions and decisions. So no matter how much humble pie we eat, it places us in direct line to receive the karmic reward or result. Not taking ownership of your part in any given scenario impedes any growth needed to continue.
“He, she, it, they” and external circumstances appear in front of us to teach us lessons. There’s no room for blame or excuses. Our surroundings serve as a reflection of our selves. Picture a huge floor to ceiling mirror — that’s what they are –- they’re YOU.
Too much energy is wasted placing the blame on others, detracting from the value or silver lining you’re meant to glean. It’s like catering to a narcissist — you can never fully feed the beast. Once you give your power to another, you miss out on the lesson. Then you just repeat it, too. Like any pattern, it will continue as long as you allow it. Awareness doesn’t emerge overnight, it takes time. But the sooner you realign your thinking to say, “I made a mistake, I’ll do better next time,” the sooner you’ll feel better – and wiser.
All you have is this moment. By replaying past events, grievances, injustices, and snafus, you beget inaction, frustration, and guilt. It’s a broken mental record. Tear up your list (or lists) of who did what, when, and why. Step out of your comfort zone, quit the blame game, and embrace each new lesson as an exciting opportunity.