Blame, or power?
“When you blame others, you give up the power to change.” ~ Douglas Adams
I love this quote that a friend sent me today. (I’m not sure Adams was the first to say it, but he did say it.)
I learned this lesson in my early 20’s when I was in an auto accident. I was the first car at a red light. I was in the far left lane of a one-way road that crossed another one-way road, with traffic coming from my left. The light turned green, and being young and always in a hurry, I hit the gas. As I entered the intersection I saw a car coming towards me on the left, and realised it was going to run the light. I hit the brakes, and came to stop. The driver of the other car braked, but rather than swerving, covered her eyes with both of her hands (I kid you not) and left her hands over her eyes until she came to a stop – against my car. Damage was significant, although I was able to drive it. The insurance company classified it as totalled.
There is no question the woman in the other car caused the accident. She was ticketed, and her insurance paid for my car. She was “to blame”. However, I realised that I could have easily avoided the accident by taking a second to see if anyone was going to run the light. Given that I lived in a city where a yellow light meant “speed up” and red meant “floor it,” such a check was a wise thing to do. While I did not cause the accident, I could easily have prevented it, and in my mind that made me partly at fault.
Yes, I know some will argue with me, but that is how I saw it, nor is it how I tend to see life. As the quote at the top of the page says, by accepting that I had a part in what happened, I gave myself the power to prevent the same thing from happening again. I became much slower on the gas when a light turned green, and on several occasions that has kept me from being hit.
I have done the same thing in my marriage – always looking for places where I can avoid a problem in the future. To do that I have to stop looking for ways to blame my bride; I can focus either on blaming her or on finding things to change that will avoid the same thing in the future. I cannot focus on both; I can do both, but I won’t do either as well as if I focused on one thing. I don’t want to give up the power to change, so I gladly give up blaming.
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