When life and business strategist, Tony Robbins, talks about bad things happening in someone’s life, he often says that a person has 3 choices:
- Blame someone. Either blame yourself or blame someone else.
- Change the blueprint.
- Change your life.
This really hit home for me when I first heard it a couple months ago.
Tony Robbins pointed out that #1, blame, is never a good option. And he’s right.
But sometimes blame is an answer. Sometimes it is. I mean, sometimes bad shit happens and there is someone to blame. All too often Tony Robbins and other self-help experts like him ignore that really crappy things happen in life. I can’t ignore that fact and I won’t.
You get hit by a drunk driver – you sure as hell can blame the drunk driver. You get neglected or abused by a bad parent – absolutely blame the parent.
Sometimes blaming can’t be avoided. It’s necessary.
But even so, blame isn’t the right answer. No matter what.
But for me, this seems to be where I always begin. And almost always I blame myself.
What should I have done differently? What didn’t I do? What did I do wrong?
And then the hollow “answers” come:
I was too weak.
I was too dumb.
I wasn’t enough.
Which is to say:
I am too weak.
I am too dumb.
I am not enough.
It’s always the same.
And as long as I keep asking these questions and keep coming-up with the same “answers”, I’m stopping myself from truly moving forward. I’m living in the past. I’m keeping myself stuck.
I wonder if everyone does this too. They blame and blame.
They get the “answers” they’re looking for through blaming. And that’s how they’re able to put something behind them. At least enough to truly and completely move on with life.
But it’s not the answer.
Well, sometimes it is. But it’s not the complete answer.
It’s not the answer to the biggest question. But all too often we forget there even is a bigger question. And that’s the biggest shame.
When my marriage fell apart, there was plenty of blame to be handed out.
And looking back, some of it was justified.
I blamed my ex for being an alcoholic. I blamed the alcohol. I blamed her parents for not doing more to help her when she was a teenager and first struggling with addiction. I blamed myself for not doing more to help her. I blamed myself for marrying her. I blamed myself for not being stronger and smarter (somehow more intelligence or more brute force could have changed everything – or so I secretly believed).
Eventually, I learned to stop laying more of the blame on myself. I had to. Deep down I knew I’d kill myself and ruin my life and my children’s lives if I blamed myself too much. It would eat me up. And it would turn me into someone else.
So, I stopped the blaming of myself. Not completely. But enough.
I never stopped blaming my ex though. And I sit here right now, more than 7 years later, I still blame her. You know why? Because she was to blame. For a lot of the shit anyway. But not all of it.
I kept blaming her but got to a place where I barely blamed myself. And that allowed me to “move on”. Not completely. But enough to stop the pain. And that was enough for me then.
It’s not enough for me now.
I had an opportunity to go deeper then. But I missed it.
I didn’t ignore it. I didn’t purposely move around it. I absolutely missed it. Missed it because I didn’t know it was there. Not consciously anyway. Yeah, on some level, deep down inside, I guess it was there. Looking back now, I’m sure it was there. But I didn’t know it then.
Just like I’m sure it was there when I went to college. And I know it was there when I first graduated from college.
It was whispering: Here I am. Here’s your chance to find your true self. It’s your chance to heal yourself. Here’s your chance at your destiny.
It was nudging me ever so lightly.
But I found my ex instead.
And when it reappeared after my marriage blew up, I found my identity in being a single dad and a good son, and a good religious person.
But the lesson kept coming back. More intense each time. And finally, I’m choosing to listen. I’m choosing to crawl through the shit. I’m choosing to heal.
And in order to heal, I have to move past the blame. Who should I blame isn’t even the right question. In the end, blame never leads to real answers. It never leads to true peace. Blame only fuels more questions. It only adds to the chaos.
So what is the all important question? The question most of us forget to ask or don’t even know to ask?
Here it is:
How do I completely heal?
Or how do I completely move on?
And the answer is:
Change the blueprint.
Change your life.
And it doesn’t have to be an or answer either. It doesn’t have to be change the blueprint or change your life.
It can be change the blueprint and change your life.
My blueprint for happiness at my age was the white picket fence house and two or three kids. Having a wife who is my best friend. Someone who gets me. Someone I completely get. Having a partner and a lover. Having kids who respect me and look up to me.
That was my blueprint from the time I was old enough to think about being an adult.
Not achieving that is a source of sadness for me. Losing it was tragic. That’s part of the reason I stayed in my marriage for so long. I didn’t want to rip-up that blueprint. I didn’t want to lose my dream.
Being a single dad. Being alone. Night after night. Morning after morning. Raising two teenagers with next to no help. It all leaves me feeling incredibly lonely sometimes. The architecture of my actual life is almost the exact opposite of my blueprint. And I hate that.
But you know what? I never did tear up the blueprint. I stashed it away deep inside of me. I hid it away and secretly checked it every once in a while.
So, when Wildflower told me my kids were now her kids too. When she told me she loved me and would always love me. I pulled that blueprint out and dusted it off, and held it in my hands.
I could still have the white picket fence house. I could still have a partner and a lover. I could still be happy.
But I still hadn’t learned my lesson. And fate or the universe or God or maybe just some distracted asshole of a truck driver intervened.
And I had to stash away the blueprint again.
Now I’m ready to tear it up. I’m ready to create a new blueprint for happiness. A blueprint that I can change in the future. One that might even end-up looking a lot like the original someday. But for now I have to change my definition of happiness. I have to. Otherwise, I’ll never be truly happy.
So, my new blueprint for happiness will be much more centered just on me. On things I like. On things that I want to do. And on who I want to be.
It will much simpler. It will be much less dependent on anyone else.
So many people cling to their blueprints. The blueprint for a “perfect” marriage or a “perfect” spouse. The blueprint for a or a job or maybe a place to live.
Many people believe happiness can only be achieved through a narrow tunnel. I believed this once too. But the tunnel that leads to happiness is wide. I see that now. And there’s many other roads and dirt paths and even zip lines that lead to happiness too. It’s not just a tunnel. In fact, the tunnel, the roads, paths, and zip lines aren’t just paths to happiness. They are part of the happiness. If I choose to let them be.
And I also see that it’s not just about changing the blueprint. It’s also about changing my life. Not all at once. But each and every day. It’s up to me to shape and mold my life into something that is more like what I want it to be.
For me, that means more writing. It means being more mindful. It means taking better care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It also means embracing who I truly am – leading with love and living my truth.
And the first step for that is getting to truly know myself. The real me. Not the me that I think others want me to be. Not the one who tries to always be good. No, the real me. The one I am meant to be.
That’s the lesson that kept popping up for me. It started with a whisper, but by the time I lost Wildflower, it had turned into a roar. Really. It did. And I shutter to think what it might have turned into if I chose to ignore it once again.
Would it have become an explosion? Or would it have just faded away to nothing?
Would an ever greater tragedy have rumbled into my life? Or would I have just been left alone without anymore great sadness – left alone to live a life of shadows and ghosts or to live in blissful and numb ignorance?
I’m not sure which would have been worse.
No, actually I know. I absolutely know.
But I don’t have to fear anything. Because here I am. Finally.
I’m changing the blueprint. And I’m changing my life.
Finally, my eyes are completely open. No longer am I squinting into the sun or trying to see through shadows.
Finally, I can see.