If you’ve spent time nurturing a vision for your personal life or your business, you know keeping that vision alive requires clarity, focus and momentum. And that momentum can get derailed in any number of ways.
One of the most common ways to bring your momentum to a full stop is to blame yourself - or someone else - when your efforts aren’t bringing the results you want. Not long ago, I realized that’s exactly what I had been doing, but I couldn’t see it until the moment I was casually reading an article in which the words “making yourself wrong” appeared. That realization was so powerful I started to cry.
Backstory: I had walked away from a very difficult situation where, try as I might, I could not create the success I assumed would follow after carrying out the instructions I was given. I was frustrated, angry and disappointed - both with myself and with the source of those instructions. Has this ever happened to you?
When I read the words “making yourself wrong,” I suddenly saw how I had been making myself wrong almost from the beginning in trying to carry out those darned instructions. And not only that, I was making the source of those instructions wrong, too. What was wrong with me, that I couldn’t do something that appeared reasonably simple to do? And what was wrong with the giver of those instructions that they couldn’t make it possible for me to succeed?
Along with the tears that came to my eyes, a kind of freedom came as well, as if I’d been sprung from jail. I had a visceral recognition of three things all at the same time:
the utter uselessness of this response,
the enormous energy drain it had caused, and
how much my vision had become obscured.
We’re conditioned from childhood to find fault with our own efforts. We call ourselves or our actions stupid. We blame ourselves when something we do doesn’t work out. We should have done better. We associate “failure” with a lack of character or will or stamina or just plain lack of smarts.
Equally as debilitating, when we make the other person or organization wrong, we assume a victim mentality and relinquish a valuable opportunity to make the best of a difficult situation. And if you’re someone who believes in karma, you unwittingly connect yourself to the other through resentment and blame. Not a good recipe for future personal growth.
Making ourselves and others wrong keeps us stuck obsessing about the past. We can’t see how and in what way good things or new understandings may have come from the efforts we made. To be both successful and fulfilled we have to learn which of the strategies we’re told to follow are actually in alignment with our personalities and our values. So rather than make ourselves or someone else wrong, we can discover what brings out our best or our worst. No blame there. Just clarity.
When we blame ourselves or others for what we’re unable to do, we waste precious time keeping a narrow focus on what didn’t happen rather than expanding our perspective so we can identify new possibilities available in the present. and take action on what is possible.
So, what’s the alternative that will keep you and your vision alive and well? Refrain from making anyone bad or wrong. Experiment with the idea that everyone is doing the best they can given their level of understanding. This will eliminate the temptation to write off all your “failed” efforts, which only takes you further from what you really want. Remember there is always something valuable to be learned from your efforts but it just may not be obvious in the moment. Then, with your actions in the future, use this metric: do these efforts take me where I want to go? And if not, what will? It can be that simple. That hopeful. That rewarding.