The Shame and Blame Game

Blame is drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.

In owning 100%, we naturally stop focusing on wanting restitution from the pointy rock/villain/person. It stops being about what is wrong with them, and starts being about what I can do to experience more joy. For example, when my desire is to shame/blame/demand/should/judge the other party, I am not owning my part in the situation. Most likely, I’m not owning my REACTION/EMOTION to the situation.

For example, if someone else beats me up, I might say that they are a villain because they are cruel, evil, and mean. Hard Rock/Soft Ass invites you to reflect on and shift your emotions/experience and reaction to the situation. Harboring resentment towards the person who beat you up is not in service to yourself and your happiness, but it sure does feel like it at the time. By locating yourself and compassionately focusing on your reaction to an experience, you can choose how to move forward(hard rock: he’s a jerk for taking away my safety, soft-ass: I am choosing to direct my attention outwards and to follow a path of rage/anger and sadness because my needs for safety and comfort are not being met. I can needs-shift to find other ways to understand what happened).

We may still choose to affirm that there is no choice in the extreme moments of physical violence / unforeseeable tragedy (cancer, sudden death of a family member, car stolen, etc.). In doing so, we (again) dis-empower ourselves; we take our agency out of the equation and turn our thoughts and feelings over to others. If you believe that these extreme situations still hold an ‘undeniable’ reaction to them, check out these stories in the Forgiveness section. These stories powerfully show the possibilities that arise when we stop shaming/blaming others and our circumstances, and begin to embrace the power we have to choose differently.
The more energy and awareness (our definition of commitment) we focus on the other person and what they should or shouldn’t be doing, or should or shouldn’t have done, the less energy commitment we have to support ourselves and our reaction/engagement with the event and person. Starting with 100% ownership, committing ourselves to ourselves and our choices, enables us to choose differently. Focusing on the other person, and making demands, judgments and assertions about them will not change anything, or if it does, will only change the other in a monitor/punishment way, rather than in a heart way. In that case, you’ll be fighting battles for the rest of your life with other people, continually and exhaustingly using force and bullying in a failingly ironic attempt to make your life easier, happier, better, smoother.

People will spend years, or all of their lives in ruin and/or pain in order to prove someone else as bad/wrong, and/or have them feel their pain.

The Hero: “But his/her hard-rock-ness is not in service to him/her and I NEED to let them know that what they’re doing is bad, wrong, destructive and awful.”

Yes, if we always own 100% of our (re)actions in a specific scenario, then we let go of making the other person/villain see the consequences of their actions. And, the more we present those consequences as demands that the other person change, that the other person apologize, that the other person makes restitution, the less likely we are to achieve a powerful outcome, for them or ourselves.

100% responsibility still allows us to present challenges and areas for growth to other people. AND it affirms that these challenges are most powerful when presented as options rather than demands, and when accompanied by observations and honest questions, rather than judgments and sneaky should’s. Yes, a person who beats up other people is almost certainly not walking a path of power and balance; AND harboring guilt and demanding s/he changes his/her ways poisons yourself. 100% responsibility opens up a path for you to attain balance in the scenario BEFORE you approach the other party with offers of support/love. This second part may be ultimately impossible (meeting an enemy with love…a hard path indeed!)…and refocusing at the very least on ourselves first makes the path to forgiveness possible, and allows US to focus on the things we can change: ourselves.
Note that detachment can be key here. “Compassionate Action” or “Right Action,” as a Buddhist might say, does not rob us of passion. You cannon-reactionary be unattached to an outcome and and still desire, and work hard to promote a change.

“People don’t make us angry, how we think makes us angry.”
-Marshall Rosenberg

Cushioning the World

A person walks through the desert barefoot. They step on rocks, twigs, glass, thorns and cut their feet. They say that the desert is full of pointy sharp things. This person then tries to sweep the desert clean of all of these things so that they can walk safely through it without hurting their feet. At last, the person falls down exhausted, the task incomplete, probably incomplete-able. Another person comes along, and notices that the desert is full of things that will cut his/her feet. This person chooses to wear a pair of shoes, and walks through the desert with their soft feet protected.

Putting on shoes, or bringing a butt-cushion, means making choices that benefit your happiness/balance when and if you engage with the hard-rocks in your life. These are small things that you can do for yourself to make it easier for you to walk the world with joy. Examples of butt cushions can be as complex as continually reminding yourself to see the other person for their humanity rather than their actions, or continually checking in with the other person in the given conversation and as simple as cleanly avoiding words or behaviors that you know will cause you to see the other party as pointy. Similarly, shoes and cushions can include: committing yourself to endless empathy and listening, speaking your 100% about interactions with that person and WILLINGLY negotiating the difference between your 100%’s.

Remember that these shoes/pads are temporary ways of reminding yourself to behave in a certain way, in hopes that this practice will result in a heart change. Eventually, through walking through the desert so much with shoes on, we learn how to navigate the desert without shoes, experiencing the possible pains in different ways. This is a long process, and at the same time needs to be balanced against the possibility of the shoe/pad becoming a racket in and of itself (i.e., “luckily I put on shoes, because that desert is evil.”)

Again, when we take the word ‘desert’ out and put in the word ‘other people’ we find the landscape (lol) gets more complicated.

Choosing a path that cushions me, while owning my 100% and inviting the other person to reflect on his/her actions is a complicated path indeed. The following chart shows a racket, a cushion and a soft-ass way to go about it, in several scenarios.

Situation (‘Hard Rock’ phrases)
Racket
Cushion
Soft-Ass
Those people are mean.
Let them be mean, I’m ‘fine’ all by myself.
Have a conversation with these mean people, mediated by a friend.
Curiosity to our own seeming inability to experience these people with joy, and approach them with honest curiosity and love.
This work is basically pointless.
I’ll just do the work as quickly as possible, as long as it’s good enough.
I’ll get the support I need to deal with this. I’ll ask for a coworker’s help.
I don’t seem to be connecting with this work in a meaningful way. I’m going to pay more attention to the unique qualities it has to see if that helps. Then I may seek other options.
Nobody should have to do this, so I won’t ‘make’ my employees do it.
Somebody has to do it, so I’ll quickly do it myself and hate it / do a poor job.
I’ll look for outside help. Maybe there is a good contractor for this.
I’m failing to see how this work is a service to the company and its growth. I’m going to reassess this and talk it over with my staff.
Chores take too much time.
They’re a necessary evil. I’ll find a way to get by.
If I devote my entire weekend to them, I’ll be able to get most of them done.
I haven’t yet managed to contextualize mundane tasks positively. I’m having trouble coming at them with a sense of joy. I’m going to seek a way to connect with those kinds of tasks.
My spouse never listens to my concerns.
It’s probably because he/she is too busy. I’ll just deal with my concerns myself.
I’m going to say something in passing that lets them know I am waiting for them to listen.
My need for understanding is unmet in how I’m expressing. I’m going to speak my 100%.

Approaching the Other

As outlined in the above examples, one of the major barriers to engaging with 100% ownership in a powerful way is our own inability to let go of our desire for the hard-rock person to ‘learn their lesson.’ Or from our desire to rescue those who they will victimize.

Again, a key metric here can be to only approach the other when there is no longer the desire or ‘need’ to do so. When we truly feel a balance around our own part in the situation–when we can see that our control can only extend to our actions, thoughts and feelings–then we stop trying to ‘fix’ (play the Rescuer) the other person or ‘make them learn.’

When we approach another person with a desire to ‘school’ them, we are trying to teach a person who doesn’t exist… our enemy image of the other. By approaching the other person from a place of 100% ownership, balance and love, we embrace words and concepts like: curiosity, inviting, wondering, welcoming, broadening. By approaching the person as a hard rock that needs to change (or be smashed), we are thinking with words and concepts like: should, improve, be better, just, ‘you need to,’ lesson learning. For more on the path between ‘shoulding’ a hard-rock into growth, and approaching a fellow human with love and balance, read through the pages on Forgiveness.

Many Alternative Opportunities

If you’re wondering how else to start a conversation, we have a smattering of tips and tools throughout the site, such as in our Compassionate Communication, Clean Communication, and Intentional Speech sections. Check out a few of these specific tools: