We all know the person who blames the world for his/her problems. At fault are the traffic jams, the coworkers, the kooky family tree, the weather, the alcohol, and the cosmos — but never, ever the person. This post is going to help you help that person.
A couple of years ago, I enrolled in a coaching program geared towards both
personal and business development. Once “accepted” into the program, I
made an intense year-long commitment of time, money, and self-discovery. Coaching
programs like this aren’t for the faint of heart, and they aren’t for people who revel in
inertia. They are for the seekers, the dreamers, and the doers who not only
want to make a significant improvement in their own lives, but also want
to make the world around them a better place.
During the interview process, I was asked a very pointed question. It made me squirm.
It made me think. And, it completely changed my life for the better.
“Are you willing to take 100% responsibility for your life?”
Think about how scary
that is initially! 100% responsibility means NO BLAMING. It means everyone else
(aka: my parents, my boss, my husband, the government) is totally off the hook for
what happens in my life. It means honoring commitments with NO EXCUSES. It means
100% ownership of EVERYTHING, regardless of whether or not things are going my
way; from my energy, to my successes, to my failures, to my relationships, to my appearance. That’s
some frightening, hair-raising shit right there. At least at first….
I agreed to abide by the 100% responsibility rule and life has vastly improved. I feel empowered and expansive, in a take charge, design your own life kind of way. It made me realize that I was never meant to be a bystander in my story — I’ve had
power, a voice, and a purpose all along. But, up until I made that commitment
to that stern, faceless voice on the phone, I had a tendency, just like many of
you, to act like a victim of circumstance.
The more I implemented this practice into my life, the clearer it became that
very few people were living by the creed of 100% self-empowerment and ownership. But
you know what? Rampant blame and deflection is a learned behavior…and now it’s time for
us all to un-learn it! It’s time to take back our personal power and start making things
happen in our own lives. Stop waiting for other people to hold your hand, wipe
your ass, dry your tears, or light that fire within you. We are ALL self made!
Whether we emerge the victor or the victim is our choice – we own
it. So my hope is that everyone starts accepting that and taking a more active role in his/her own life.
Admittedly, if someone isn’t ready for the 100% ownership model, it can be a really tough concept to
latch on to. It definitely took me a little while to get used to it. With this model as my guidepost, I started creating my own line of
questioning that I used during both self-exploration as well as when working with others.
It was so powerful and enlightening that I now use it all the time. My genuine feeling is that it can help you in your personal pursuits and can also help you be of better service to those around you, so I would like to share it with you today.
Because it is a non-threatening line of questioning that simultaneously reduces blame
and encourages personal responsibility, it is perfect for EVERYONE. (BEWARE: if someone is in a blaming,
grudging, complaining, judging mindset, they are either going to appreciate
your candor and make strides in their life, or condemn you for it and make you
the next target of their blame-storm. My advice: go for it anyways. They might
not want to acknowledge their truth just yet, but you should always acknowledge yours.) By asking deliberate, meaningful questions, you will create an opportunity to foster introspection, spawn breakthroughs, and empower the people you love.
“What role do you think you played in that?”
It’s as simple as that. I ask myself that question (or variations of that question) all the time and it
really helps me think through things in a logical and heart-centered way. Are
you ready for some examples of this line of questioning at work? Here goes:
After an argument with a loved one…
“What role did I play in that?”
For the teen who feels like they don’t fit in and the world is out to get them…
“How do you think you might be contributing to that outcome?”
When another event gets cancelled, a contract falls through, or a business prospect
goes with a competitor instead…
“What can I do new, better, different next time?”
When you feel your spouse is to blame for any number of reasons…
“What role did I play in this scenario?”
When your children are being abominable, ill-mannered, ingrates…
“How am I contributing to this and what can I do differently?”
When you feel misunderstood and unheard…
“What role am I playing in this and how can I communicate more effectively?”
Give it a try and let me know what the outcome is. If you allow yourself, or the people around you, to blame, wallow in self-pity, and accept little to no responsibility for their lives, you are not doing anyone any favors. You’re a better friend and a better mentor when you ask deep, thought-provoking questions. But, please, please, please —
don’t bounce this off of other people if you are unwilling to use the line of
questioning on yourself. You’ve got to be willing to answer your own tough questions before you can expect everyone else to start addressing theirs. It all starts within.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or hear what line of questioning you use when
helping people see beyond their own blinders. Leave your comments below.
And pop on over to jennpipe.com to sign up for my newsletter and see what else is going on. It’s THE place where courage and creativity live.
(P.S. This concept works with adults, children, employees, friends, relatives, etc. There is no limit! Give it a shot.)