Why is it that we blame others for our unhappiness?
Maybe we believe that happiness is something that happens to us and not something that we have control over. Maybe we believe that happiness is only a feeling and not a choice or action. Maybe it takes too much effort to take charge of our life and it is easy to let things happen to us.
While it is true that there are some events that inherently bring unhappiness such as sickness, death or loss, what is important is how we approach them. Whether we keep on burrowing ourselves in the hole of unhappiness or whether we pull ourselves out of this hole. It’s not that happy people do not experience sorrow. It’s that they do not dwell on it for too long and move on to other things that will give them happiness.
There are myriad reasons why we blame others for our unhappiness.
Sometimes we blame our unhappiness on fate. Really we ask, how can I fight against fate. There is nothing I can do. I am helpless against it. Whatever is meant to be will be.
Sometimes we blame people who we perceive hold power on us. Perhaps our boss, our in-laws, a bully and others. We cannot fight them since they hold key to our livelihood, our family happiness and our social life. Really we ask, how can happiness be in our hands. Others hold all the power.
Sometimes we blame people who are of different ethnicity. Really we ask, how can I compete against these people who are too disciplined, who persevere all the time, who can do anything for money and other stereotypical notions we might have of them. We say I am not like them so how can I achieve as much as they do.
Sometimes we blame the circumstances of our life. Perhaps we were not born in a privileged country or a privileged home. Perhaps we did not go to a privileged school or have privileged connections. Really we ask, how can I compete with these privileged people.
Strangely enough, giving power to others can make us feel better. Sometimes it is a back-door for punishing people by making them feel guilty for making us unhappy. Sometimes whining about others is cathartic and provides an outlet for us to release our emotions. Sometimes we may just get some sort of masochistic pleasure in being a victim as it gets us sympathy and attention.
While we cannot deny the truth in the reasons we blame others, in the final analysis, they are just excuses wherein we give ourselves permission to wallow in our misery and sit on our hands. As a famous saying goes “Every time you point a finger at someone, remember that 3 are pointing back at you”. The one finger that you point at others represents all the blame that you heap on others. The 3 fingers that are pointing back at you represent perhaps your complacency, your fears, your lack of assertiveness, your inability to confront or communicate, your lack of discipline and most importantly your inability to take action to change the situation.
This blame game that we play with others can never lead to happiness. Just as it is necessary to forgive others so that we can move on in our life, it is critically important to be kind and loving and forgiving to ourselves. Nurturing ourselves is the first step to happiness. It all begins in our mind. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.
Being happy is a choice that demands action. The action of simply controlling our mind to switch from “Why is it happening to me” to “What can I do about it” or to “What lesson is this circumstance trying to teach me”. As soon as we make this switch, we start seeing a beautiful rainbow in the cloud. A rainbow that reminds us that we are in control, that we have control and that we can do something about it. Each small step that we take from then on showers us with raindrops of happiness.
Happiness is after all a journey, not just a destination.