There seem to be two kinds of approaches to life that I’ve observed in people around me: those who take responsibility for their actions and those who can’t. I’m part of the first group in that I tend to feel over-responsible for lots of things, a tendency to blame myself first. I tend to worry about the effects of my behavior or my thoughts as I go along. Sometimes to my own detriment. Sometimes to others too, I think.
On the other hand, there are some who see themselves as “victims” first and ask questions later. That is, they never do anything wrong. Or at least, not on purpose, they tell themselves, as a way to excuse bad things that happen around them. Along with feeling like a victim, nothing is ever their fault. There’s always someone else to blame. Or something that couldn’t be helped. Or worse yet, there’s nothing wrong to do anything about. For example, when things are bad and you want to talk about them, their attitude is, “yes, but think of all the people who are worse off than we are: end of a non-discussion.” I don’t like to label things when I’m not schooled in the jargon, but maybe this is a kind of avoidance. Insecurity even deeper than my own.
The I-Ching notes that there’s nothing that stirs people’s ire more deeply than feeling they have done something wrong. Their enmity is re-directed back to the object they have wounded, compounding situations into a hardened mess no one can go near, much less try to repair. The more they justify themselves in order to feel better, the more slippery the slope becomes.
These days, it feels a lot like we are all looking over the edge into a bottomless chasm. We could avoid it before but the negativity and apprehension in the ether in which we breathe is so pervasive these days that I wake up feeling ominously like the other shoe is going to drop any minute now. Maybe it’s because tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the attack on 9/11.
That being said, I guess it’s also possible to pick ourselves up and look at the upside of things. We are really not going to hell in a handbasket. At least, not today. We are able to put food on the table. Our family is healthy for the most part. We have work to do. We haven’t lost our marbles either. The sun comes out after lots of rain. The year and the calendar moves forward, day by day. Just as it always has. We are little ants on our own little anthill. We can say “yes” to living our fullest, including taking ownership over the good and bad in our lives. Or we can hide in our anthill and say “no” to anything we feel uncomfortable with. I don’t know if there’s an equilibrium between too much yes or too much no. But, at least, it’s something worth thinking about.