In our society today, all we hear is the term “victim shaming,” blaming, and apologizing. We never, ever hear anyone just taking responsibility for the situation. We don’t hear enlightenment. But, then this would not be sensational. People who are self-aware do not often get drama or excitement from the press or social media. Not unless you are in a Yoga, New Age, Spirituality, or Meditation forum or app.
When you have been in any type of situation, whether it be a break-up, divorce, trauma, accident, or even an action taken somehow in society, it is important for your own self-esteem and energy to take responsibility for the situation vs. staying focused on blaming. This sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
The most horrible events that have happened to you in your life, will serve your mind/body/spirit much more if you are able to take responsibility for how this occurred in the first place. This is NOT victim shaming. It is simply understanding that your painful situation occurred because of some reason: whether it be karma, energetic attraction, mistakes, etc… This does not absolve the perpetrator for their actions. It merely helps the victim to step away from the action and live their life in a healthier way. By staying “stuck” in the trauma or un-wanted action, we do not get a chance to grow as human beings.
Let’s look at some scenarios:
- Arial was a young woman, who had just left her abusive family and married an abusive man to boot. Within a couple of years of being isolated from her state of origin, escalated abuse: physically, sexually, and mentally, she began to realize she did not want to be with her husband anymore.
- She escaped the marriage and began doing a lot of soul searching to gather her sense of self back. She took workshops, did meditation and yoga and worked with a therapist. One day, she looked back on the past, and realized the mistakes she had made at that time. She thought about all the people who tried to warn her that he was an abusive man. She thought about the fact that he had been abusive prior to the marriage. She also realized that had she made different choices, this marriage would never have taken place. She also realized that she was naïve and had suffered from PTSD at that time but still, took responsibility and owned up to her own thought process at that time. She was able to heal and move forward and never got into an abusive relationship again.
- John, on the other hand was an angry man. He spent most of his relationship with Jenny taking a “poor me” approach. Women had constantly harmed him. They had cheated on him, lied to him and taken advantage of him. Jenny worked her heart out to convince him she would never do any of those things. She focused on protecting John and assumed nothing bad would ever happened as a result. John, was so consumed with his past and couldn’t allow for the fact that Jenny was doing those things. Women always represented evil to him. His anger was so deep that he could not see the happiness that was right in front of him. He ended up leaving Jenny. She was confused about the scenario because she didn’t understand why he would leave her if she had not done any of the things the other women had apparently done.
- Jenny did a lot of work on her self. She got into therapy, did workshops and bodywork to help heal from this experience. She was able to realize that John was an angry man. She was also able to see that there were occasions when she should have left him earlier in the relationship or at least have confronted him about things differently. She was able to forgive John spiritually and just focus on moving forward in her life and not attract these type of men again. She did this by taking responsibility for her own healing and learning about how to attract healthier people into her life.
- Jasmine was raped on three different occasions while drunk at parties. She came to her therapist and talked about what this had been like for her. They worked on her PTSD. They also worked on taking responsibility for her actions as well.
- She was able to see that while the rapists were at fault for raping her, the common denominator was that she was drunk and had no ability to be in control of her situations. She was not at fault for being raped but she could control her life circumstances in the future by not getting drunk at parties. If she had not been drunk, she would have been able to get away in all three of the scenarios. Most likely, they would not have even happened.
- Mario was an angry man and he looked down on his wife. She was not as smart as he was. She did not come from money like he did. Sometimes, during their marriage, he would get upset with her and this would result in some type of passive aggressive assault. He did not actually hit her but shoved her or caused her to fall by not paying attention to his actions.
- He came into therapy and was able to begin to look at his responsibility in the matter. He looked at his own anger and where this had come from. He took responsibility for his beliefs about his wife. He realized that it made sense that she would not want to stay married to him, though he really wished he could turn the scenario around. His wife now wanted nothing to do with him. He had to realize that moving forward, he would need to be a different man to attract a woman into his life that he could have an equal relationship with.
In all of these circumstances, the person was able to take their life back by being in control of the future they wanted. If they had turned to social media, they would have been told that the other person was a “hater” or a “racist” or a “narcissist.” Lots of people would have ganged up on the perpetrator and the victim would have received lots of members on her team that validated and supported her. Unfortunately, no one would have been able to give her positive advice and no one would have talked to her about self-awareness or taking responsibility. This is because most people online are not professionals but are victims themselves. The blind leading the blind can be nice on the one hand but eventually, you both end up hitting a brick wall.
Responsibility for your actions does not mean you are to “blame” for them. It means that a person is rising above the situation and taking a higher hand in the matter by being more mindful of how things happened and how they might live their life differently in the future. “Holding On,” and remaining “Stuck” in a position, such as “he/she was wrong,” does not give us anything other than blaming, anger, frustration, bitterness and an inability to have the life we really want.
When I do Cognitive Processing Therapy with PTSD clients, we focus on re-framing their beliefs about the trauma. The main part of becoming un-stuck is realizing that the perpetrator was at fault and NOT them. By the time they are finished with their twelve sessions, they are in a much better place and their symptoms have decreased. If, of course, they have stayed consistent with sessions, homework and working through the stuck points.
When I do couples counseling, utilizing the Gottman training that I took, a similar scenario occurs between the couple. I teach them to re-visit the argument, repair the damage and then look at re-building their future together. When they have the self-awareness to do this, they are able to have a healthier relationship with one another. When one party refuses to acquiesce then the damage continues and often the couple will end the relationship as a result. Responsibility has to take place from both parties. There are two people in a relationship and two people have caused the argument to ensue.
When you think about all the gurus, motivational speakers, spiritual leaders, great thinkers of the world, how often do you hear them blaming people for their life? Never. If they did, they wouldn’t be in the position they are in. Even all the philosophers who channel their thoughts into prose. They are all teaching us how to achieve enlightenment through responsibility for our actions. Even Kahlil Gibran says in his testimony to Pain, from The Prophet: “much of your pain is self-chosen.” An enlightened way of looking at this sentence is to realize we can continue to wallow in pity or take a look at our pain, forgive those who harmed us, allow the universe to handle their karmic debts, and move forward in our life one day at a time.
Blaming is for victims but taking responsibility is for survivors. The latter is a tough road to travel down but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This too shall pass. You WILL have a better life.