Photo: George Burns ©Harpo Inc.
Something that we often forget is that we all play a role in the creation of the pain we experience, even if someone else is involved. We don't recognize that we volunteer for that pain. We show up for it. We tolerate it. Once we acknowledge our own contribution, the healing can begin. Here's a four-step plan that can help you stop nurturing the very things that hurt you.
1. End the BPs
One of the ways that people avoid taking responsibility for their role in their own pain is what I call the BPs—blame and projection. Blame is straightforward: Somebody hurts us, and we say things like, "They did this to me. Look what they did!" Projection is slightly different and happens when we blame other people for our problems, even if they didn't do anything to us (in other words, we just don't want to look at what we did).
As long as we're blaming and projecting, we don't become accountable to ourselves for how we accommodate, excuse and tolerate behavior that causes pain—whether it's our own behavior or someone else's. Let's say you stay on a job for 15 years, miserable and complaining. Then you get fired and you're upset. But you didn't want to be there! How many times did you say "I gotta get out of here"?
Well now you're out! Why are you upset with your boss? Because she moved first? You accommodated the discomfort. You went every day. The work wasn't challenging you. But you kept on showing up. How is your boss or company supposed to know you're unhappy? What steps had you taken to either remedy the situation or get another job?
2. Understand Your Whats and Whys
One way to understand your own role is to review what happened: why we did what we did, and what we got as a result. Say you have a friend and you always show up to help her, but when you need her, she never shows up for you. So you end up being angry with your friend.
That's the exact time to do some self-reflection. Did your friend ask for the help you offered? Or did you volunteer? There is a difference—but if the friend did ask for assistance, why did you say yes? What is it that you desired, expected or wanted to get out of the situation? To feel needed or useful? To get her to feel as if she owed you something? Maybe you were afraid she wouldn't love you anymore if you said no. In any of these cases, you extended yourself for you
, not her.
Next: Step 3 - Plan for the noes