The Blame Game

You have to begin by appreciating the fact that you and absolutely everyone around you is in a constant, moment-by-moment fluctuation between ego and wisdom. And so we’ll never completely get rid of ego because of course it is Yang to wisdom’s Yin. So what we’re shooting for is a largely enlightened society where there are enough people living in wisdom for long 470 Relax and Succeed - Even the nicest peopleenough stretches that they can absorb and not re-transmit the negativity that tends to emit from ego.

One of the key ways we can express negativity is through frustration, anger and blame. Blame is the result of the chaining together of expectations that are then compared to what is and then a judgment is made—and this is all taking place in only your consciousness. The fact that an ego would tell itself such a story should hardly be surprising. So when someone points the finger of blame at you, remember to understand it as being impersonal.

As I noted, blame is about comparing what is with what we wanted. Arguing the logic that they had no business making their initial assumption in the first place will not go over well when people are feeling frustrated. What we should do instead is really put ourselves into their shoes. See what’s happened not from your superior position of knowing what happened behind the scenes, but what it looks like to them. I can give you a great example.

I have a client I really like and she is friendly and reasonable and even generous. But you know those tasks or projects that just end up being the Bermuda Triangle of activities? Where no single major thing goes wrong. In fact, if the disappointed person was there to witness it, they would easily understand and wouldn’t feel let down at all. And most people will give you the benefit of a doubt even if they didn’t see it themselves. But when you get those fluke instances where one person runs into several consecutive experiences like that, it makes sense that the part of their brain that’s starting to feel familiar is: incompetence. Now, on our end—precisely because 470 Relax and Succeed - Breathe deep and let gothings had gone so badly—everyone was working extra, extra hard in an effort to make up the difference. So it’s really bad math when things keep failing by fluke. Because the harder the people try, the more negativity they face. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the natural flow of things.

So whenever the woman would express frustration in an email, one co-worker would feel she was being unreasonable because she wasn’t respecting how hard everyone was working in their efforts to try to ensure things went right. When you’re ignoring other people’s needs to address someone else’s it’s easy to feel gratitude would naturally flow from that. But if the person is continually not having their promised needs met, it makes sense that their egoic narrative would begin to loop angrily through the region that includes incompetence. I on the other hand wanted only to resolve the woman’s concerns immediately. Her frustrations seemed entirely understandable to me and I wasn’t insulted at all whenever she expressed them. I understood that from her perspective it was impossible to see how hard everyone was working to resolve things.

We can’t really live successfully if our objective is to avoid any and all discord. But we can eliminate a lot of the unnecessary discord by being more patient and understanding about the sources of people’s behaviour. If you understand that someone is reacting to their narrative rather than your reality then it’s much easier to not take their responses personally.

As much as possible try not to lay blame. It’s largely counter-productive. But if you lay it, forgive yourself. And if you’re the one blamed, take it in stride. It’s not that big a deal. Just hear it remembering that the blame is them responding to their internal monologue, not yours. Realities are separate and they can be quite different. So don’t exasperate yourself by trying to get other people to live in yours. It just can’t be done. So when people blame you, just remember that they forgot that you can’t see their reality nor live up to all of their expectations.

Now knowing all of this, I wouldn’t blame you at all for having yourself an uber-fantastic day!

peace. s 😉

Temper Tantrums

Winner: Scott’s Top Questions of 2014 #3

I lose my temper a lot and when I do it’s really bad. My one sister can keep me calm but she’s going to school next year and that’s got me scared. I feel bad after I throw things or call people names. I’ll never have an adult relationship until I learn to control myself. Please tell me you can help.

Always Angry

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Dear Angry,

Fascinating. Despite the fact that your emotional experiences are created through a chemical messaging system between your brain and body, somehow your sister can hack this system and she can control your biology but you cannot! Amazing.

Yes, my tongue is firmly in my cheek. I’m kidding. But it makes my point: you are giving your sister credit for what you have done. You simply believe your sister can calm you down so she can. But it’s not her that does the calming—it’s the belief. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

You sound a bit like the people who tell me they can’t help themselves from hitting their spouse, and yet they’ve never hit their bosses. The control is there, they’re just not applying it in one situation versus another.

It isn’t your sister that calms you down, it’s you. Own that. I’m serious. She can go to school and have a great experience having fun and get educated. Meanwhile, you can still stay calm and collected and in the general state of mind that leads to good, calm decision-making. And you do that by believing in yourself.

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Every single state of mind you experience is self-created by you, for you. Don’t blame others for your emotions and don’t give them credit either. Again, it wasn’t your sister running your brain it was you.

Take responsibility and control for what you feel by maintaining an awareness of what you are thinking. If you’re thinking angry thoughts then it’s no surprise that you’re getting angry. And since you’re the one thinking them, once you feel the anger rising, that’s your signal to stop thinking those kinds of thoughts.

And how do you stop? You think of something else. Stop wanting, start appreciating. It’s easy. You’ve already done it, you just used your sister as a cue and now you’re switching to using the angry feelings.

You asked if I can help. No, I can’t. But you can. Pay attention to the direct relationship between how you judge something and how you feel about it. You will quickly see that you’re like some kind of processor that conjures thoughts and elicits feelings, and feelings are what our reality is made of, regardless of which sense it comes to us through.

Remember, if you’re going through puberty or menopause or any other significant hormonal shift, then give yourself some room to have your feelings impacted. I’m not saying it’s fun, but if you know it’s a wave that you just have to survive then it’s a bit easier to deal with some of the associated challenges. Just don’t expect pure calmness when you’re biology is doing loops.

You make yourself calm and you make yourself angry but outside influences still do exist. Don’t try to become calm, create calm. By doing so you stop creating anger by chaining together angry ideas, because your mind is busy chaining together appreciative ideas that feel good.

Relax, breathe and enjoy. That is what it is to be truly successful. And as great as it is to have a sister like that, you can do this.

peace. s

Angry Souls

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Here’s the deal: no matter how we live it, life will absolutely have the duality of Yin and Yang. Just as every coin has two sides, hot weather means there is cold weather, light means there is dark, and if there are things we enjoy then there are things we won’t enjoy. This is the essential nature of existence.

The universe represents everything, and we are playing out an aspect of that infiniteness. That role will certainly take us into both sides of existence. And if that is the case, then we can see that it’s possible to take what’s happening to us personally. We are not in control, we are more actors on the universe’s stage.

Those aren’t our problems, they are aspects of the universe’s script and we’re merely the ones playing that scene out. We simply shouldn’t take our identity or beliefs very seriously. We are enacting them, but they are not us. That’s why the real us can be at odds with our own actions.

We can think this is a complex, deep, foreign idea but it’s not. We encounter it all the time. Whether we choose to attempt to remember them or not, everyone dreams because that’s how our brain builds the ideas it uses to navigate the world.

In our dreams we are totally okay with being disappointed, or scared, or hurt because we wake up and write the feelings off as a dream. The question then is, why don’t we do that with the same feelings when we’re awake? We’ve already proven to ourselves that we can.

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The difference will be that we believe we were just dreaming, whereas you call the other experiences you have: reality. But fear is fear. Joy is joy. The border between dreaming and reality is pretty thin. The difference is in what we believe. Ideas that are too far removed from our belief system simply get called crazy. Those are other people’s reality-dreams that are too far removed from our own.

For instance, there were many people who looked at the world and thought it certainly appeared flat so they thought the people who said it was round were crazy. That’s how belief works, whether we’re awake or asleep. Despite all of the evidence the contrary, people today prove that you can still earnestly believe it’s flat, and that the ’rounders’ are crazy.

There are two primary ways to navigate moving through this universe. The first is to self-reinforce your own beliefs and rigidly call them reality. From that perspective you will be disappointed or angry or upset by anyone who chooses not to share your beliefs regarding your priorities.

These people are easy to spot—they’re always angry or upset about something. They’ve got hundreds of ways for other people to be wrong, or immoral, or lacking in character. If they’re divorced, rather than their ex’s being good people that they couldn’t make it work with, they’ll be idiots or bitches or jerks or losers.

In essence, these people’s rigidness about what constitutes proper behaviour is what keeps them perpetually tense and angry and it’s why they can’t form the sort of strong bonds that real unconditional love creates.

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Another way to be is; open and flexible regarding what you feel reality is. Then very little is outside of the boundaries of acceptability to you. If a dog barks and wakes you up, you accept that dogs bark, you accept that not everyone was raised to learn to teach their dog not to bark very early in the morning, and you accept that the event has already happened.

With a healthy perspective, the person can then wake up and go about their day under the assumption that something good will happen—and maybe even because they’re up earlier than they planned. They will find that good thing simply because they are looking for it. The duality is always there, it’s simply a matter of which side of the coin you choose to look at.

That other person is angry about the dog. The dog shouldn’t bark. That person in their past should have taught it differently. Therefore the dog is pissing the person off, and the owner is labelled an idiot. Meanwhile the healthy person is up having a tea or coffee, enjoying the day because that’s their mindset.

Without all of those rules and lines in their head, they are free to take in and absorb the magnificence of creation because that is what they are looking to find, just as the angry person was looking for reasons to think the thoughts that will dose them with the chemistry for their addictions: disappointment, frustration and anger.

That’s also why the angry person will still be talking or thinking angrily about being woken up by the dog even hours or days later. They’re like pushers, using their amygdala to dose their brain with angry chemistry.

Learn from angry people. Watch how much they are puppeted around by events in their lives. If it rains on their camping weekend it rained on them. If someone runs a red light, then they hit them. It’s as though the person who did the hitting was literally waiting for a specific driver to run into.

If they have a terrible new boss, then the boss is being a jerk to them rather than just being someone who is impacting everyone as they learn their new job . Their ex’s are all terrible people, and any ex-friend too. And they will have a lot of ex-friends, because with all of those rules and lines about what is acceptable and unacceptable it’s virtually impossible for them not to be let down.

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Essentially, an angry person thinks every unmet expectation is a failure of the world’s, whereas a healthy person sees an unmet expectation as a mistake on the part of themselves, the thinker. Had they never used their power of thought to build that expectation then they couldn’t possibly be let down by it not happening.

Angry people are teachers. Far from bothering us, we should watch them intently. We should try to genuinely understand how they come into so much conflict and anger. Why are they always frustrated and disappointed? (Except in those cases where things are, by fluke, going exactly the way they want.) Witness the connection between their ugly feelings and their rigid expectations.

We can know ourselves by knowing them. Because in the end, we’re using the same tool to build our realities, and we’re only marginally better because we by chance got healthier programming. But we’re generally just as blind to enlightenment as they are.

Let’s make good from bad and use their extreme qualities to help us see exactly how they come into such a remarkable amount of conflict both inside and out. This not only increases our emotional skill set, but it also increases our empathy for the suffering of angry people.

Let us consider it a spiritual exercise to stop being bothered by angry or sad people. Instead let us learn from them. As the Dalai Lama has said many times, they are our very best teachers and we should be grateful for the lessons they so painfully deliver to us at such a high cost to themselves.

So with thanks to them, let’s all go out and enjoy our day, and let’s do it by choice. 😉

peace. s