Friday, 26 July 2013

Blaming the Victim 3. 27.07.13

Blaming the Victim 3[1]

"Results! Because, man, I have gotten a lot of results.
I know several thousand things that won`t work."- Thomas A. Edison

I have never been in a bad situation that wasn’t at least partly my responsibility.  I could always have done something different at some point and obtained a better result.[2]  Sometimes I messed up the assessment of a situation, so the final results were more serious than they could have been otherwise.  Sometimes my reaction wasn’t as good as it could have been because I lacked the necessary resources.  Sometimes I actually part-caused the whole scenario to unfold by screwing the pooch beforehand.  In one way or the other, I have always been partly involved.

For each and every significant negative event of my life I could now work out a better way out.  Apparently, that means I’m being “too hard on myself”, because I am “blaming myself” for my past.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get how accepting that you are not infallible is being too hard or blaming.  The way I do it, it’s kinda comfortable.  In fact, it feels like I’m taking better care of myself.

I made mistakes.  Is that a problem to you?  Because it doesn’t bother me, and I don’t understand how it can or should.  You see, I learnt from those mistakes.  I am a different, better person now than I was back then, whether we’re talking about my childhood or two weeks ago.  It’s unfortunate that I had to make the mistakes to learn the lesson, but that’s how learning often works.  It’s natural that I make mistakes, because I am human, and humans are fallible.  It’s fortunate that a lesson was learnt.  I’m still here, largely intact, mostly happy and increasingly functional, so it’s all good.

I once said to a friend that when my training goes to pot, all I can tell myself is that I’m “better than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow”.  It doesn’t matter if the progress is infinitesimal or difficult.  The point is that there is some progress in some aspect of my training, even if it’s just the fact that I’m sticking with it when I find it hard or pointless.  The same statement applies to my growth as a person.  Every time something happens, I learn something, so I change.  I try to manage that change so I can grow and get better.  With a bit of luck, I get better in a way that stops me making the same mistake again – but that can only happen if I accept that the mistake was made.

Without accepting my contribution to my past problems, I could not learn anything from my experiences.  I have had countless arguments with some friends over this, largely centred on ex partners.  They would say, for instance, that my partner did not treat me right, and that’s purely his fault for not being very nice.  Well, I beg to differ.  I picked the guy and I stayed with him for a while.  I didn’t get clubbed on the head and dragged into his lair against my consent[3].  Thus, there were flaws either in how I picked them or how I interacted with them.  They must, logically, have been or have become the wrong people for me.  Understanding where I went wrong helps me avoid doing it again, as well as teaching me about myself.

Am I blaming myself?  Hell no.  I always did my best – it just so happened that my best, at that time, wasn’t that good.  To me, blaming means not only holding responsible, but also censuring somebody, and I neither do that nor allow anyone else to do it.  I don’t see any upside in playing the blame game, so I don’t.  End of.  But that doesn’t prevent me from using an experience as a learning tool.

It may be that I spent too much of my formative years minding young children and animals.  When you’re training young ‘uns, you have to accept that they will make mistakes.  After the gazillionth time you see someone trying to put a round peg in a square hole you might get a tad frustrated, but you have to accept that it is an inevitable part of a necessary process which is going to take as long as it takes.  You have to accept that everyone learns different things at different speeds, and that includes yourself.  I am surely as deserving of respect and consideration in my learning as anyone else, after all.  I am not going to censure myself for learning too slowly – what is the point in that?  What positive result would it achieve?

Alternatively, it might be that I spent too much time in science labs.  When an experiment does not work, you don’t sit there and berate the Bunsen burner.  You jolly well get on with trying to work out where it all went wrong, and try again.  There is no moral judgement associated to the statement “the experiment’s results were negative”.  In fact, those negative results are considered useful, because they teach us something about the issue at hand.[4]  At the same time, you don't sit and consider them for any longer than it takes to learn what they have to teach you.  You absorb the learning and move on.

In both those situation the ultimate purpose is learning – not being right.  If I wanted to be right all the time, I could easily do that.  All I’d have to do is never make a new decision or choice again.  I would have to stagnate fully and never take another risk.  “By doing nothing, you can’t go wrong” is a loosely-translated Italian saying that I wish was embraced more widely, because it is accurate.  The opposite is also true – that the more you attempt, the more you increase your chances of making a mistake.

Each one of my choices and actions is an experiment, because I have never done that exact thing before.  Sometimes things will pan out right, and I will learn something by that.  Sometimes they will pan out wrong, and by Jove I WANT to learn something by that, because otherwise there will be no upside to any negative consequences.  Sometimes the learning can be hard.  However, I still think that it is useful, and what is useful is healthy.  So I intend to carry on growing and improving and developing, even if that means admitting that I had things to learn and that I still have a way to go.

and, if you want to look through the vaults,
The last one, hopefully.  Partly it’s because, much as I like the sound of my own voice, I’m fed up of going on about this. Partly it’s because I’ve given up discussing the issue because Victim Protection is part of a belief system, and there’s no point in arguing about beliefs.  Largely it’s because it’s summer and really there are better, more constructive things to do out in the sunshine, plus I’m fed up of this stuff clogging up my head.

[2] Well, I was born in the wrong family, but my belief system does not support me having picked them.  Way it goes.

[3] To be truthful, that did happen once, but it appears that kicking someone in the gut hard enough to make him actually fly backwards works as a deterrent.  Girlpower, rah.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

This is an excellent post! For me, part of coping with the bad things requires me to recognize how I played a part. Because then I know that I can have some control. I am not powerless. It doesn't make it my fault or assign blame, it helps me to be better tomorrow. Thank you again!