Externalizing blame can show up in a lot of different ways, each of them leading to the same destination: nowhere. Have you ever said one of the following?
- I had no choice
- It’s just how I am
- I’m too busy
- I couldn’t say no
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these are all just stories we tell ourselves–ones that are not necessarily accurate. Now this isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with making a choice to do something that may not necessarily align with your goals, if that’s what you’re choosing to do. Choosing is the operative word here.
The problem arises when you buy into the belief that you are being externally controlled. Quite frankly, that’s usually a cop out.
To clarify, these things are all okay:
- Being afraid to set boundaries
- Having a hard time communicating your needs
- Using food for comfort sometimes
- Feeling shame around, or fear of, failure
- Wanting to avoid discomfort
- Being tired and not wanting to do something
What’s not okay is telling yourself that you are at the mercy of others or circumstance. And when that’s the story you write for yourself, you literally hand over your power to change. When you acknowledge that you have a choice in what you do or don’t do, that forces you to also look at why you might be choosing behavior that’s either harmful, sabotaging your progress, or just plain not in your best interest.
Diving into that stuff can be unbelievably hard work, and it often comes bundled with stuff like like shame and regret. It’s much easier to instead close your eyes, plug your ears, and sing “la la la” at the top of your lungs (which, by the way, is about all that externalizing accomplishes). There you go, you just can’t do it. Case closed. Next!
But that doesn’t get you anywhere.
Now, sometimes you may decide that the reward for something doesn’t outweigh the effort required. Or maybe that a particular effort isn’t realistic for you right now. And that’s fine. It’s okay to make that choice, because then you’re empowered to create a strategy around it, or be at peace with it. But when you remove choice from the equation, what happens?