I hardly ever get mad, but I spent a few years being really mad at my ex-employees.
They corrupted the culture of the company. They tried to stage a mutiny. They focused on their benefits instead of our clients.
They this. They that. Do you hear the pattern?
When someone upsets you, it’s human nature to feel it’s entirely their fault.
But one day I started thinking maybe it was all my fault.
- I created the environment that let the rotten apples spoil the barrel.
- I ignored problems instead of nipping them in the bud.
- I was aloof and away instead of managing or training managers.
- (I could list many more examples, but you get the idea.)
It felt so good to decide it was all my fault!
This is way better than forgiving. When you forgive, you’re still assuming they’re wrong and you’re the victim. You’re just charitably pardoning their horrible deeds.
But to decide it’s your fault feels amazing! Now you weren’t wronged. They were just playing their part in the situation you created. They’re just delivering the punch-line to the joke you set up.
What power! Now you’re like a new super-hero, just discovering your strength. Now you’re the powerful person that made things happen, made a mistake, and can learn from it. Now you’re in control and there’s nothing to complain about.
This philosophy feels so good that I’ve playfully decided to apply this “EVERYTHING IS MY FAULT” rule to the rest of my life.
It’s one of those base rules like “people mean well” that’s more fun to believe, and have a few exceptions, than to not believe at all.
- The guy that stole $9000 from me? My fault. I should have verified his claims.
- The love of my life that suddenly dumped me after six years? My fault. I let our relationship plateau.
- Don’t like my government? My fault. I could get involved and change it.
See what power it is?
Yes, the word “responsibility” is more accurate, but to me that’s such a somber serious word, whereas “everything’s my fault” is a fun rule-of-thumb.
Try it on.
Think of every bad thing that happened to you, and imagine you happened to it.
That power looks good on you.