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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Whose Shit Is This, Anyway?

For many years now I have been asking people I have counseled, "Whose shit is that?" when they come to me and reveal that they are, essentially, classical caretakers and/or being manipulated and controlled by someone else. They usually will say something like, "Well, if I do that then John is going to be upset..." which prompts me to ask just whose problem John being upset really is - whose shit is that, anyway? Each of us are responsible for our own feelings, thoughts, and behavior. If John is mad, that's a problem of John's creation and John is the only one who can solve it - no matter how much John tries to make someone else responsible.

Lately, I have discovered a whole new, much broader application of what I charmingly call "The Shit Principle." It works like this - people do stupid shit all the time. They live their lives being less than true to themselves, in the closet over any number of issues. Friends betray friends, or refuse to see them in public for fear of the opinions of others, they start unwise relationships or unwisely end stable relationships, they quit good jobs in favor of bad jobs - the list is virtually endless. Sometimes, those bad choices cause us to feel hurt but upon close examination (and to borrow a tired, but honest, break up line) it's not you, it's them. What I mean to say is that not only can't we protect people from themselves, we also shouldn't take other people's foolish actions personally. Their seeming inability to face reality just isn't our issue - but, oh, how we love to try to make it our issue.

Ultimately, the only one we are responsible for is ourselves. If someone doesn't want to associate with us, unless we have been displaying some fairly inappropriate behavior, it's that person's inability to accept reality as it is that drives their decision. Despite that, we often find ourselves embroiled in an unpleasant story - fantasy, really - of our own construction in which we play the villain or the abused party. Let it go, it's just not your shit.

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