Wednesday, 25 November 2015

With Regret

Is it a cultural thing, this need to find someone or something to blame?

Why do we feel the need to find a cause for every effect? 

Is it human nature to lash out at a specific person when we are hurt and angry? Is is somehow normal to find someone we can make responsible for our suffering?

Certainly, there are reasons for things. Global warming contributes to climate change. Drunk drivers kill people. Sex gets you pregnant. Arsonists start fires. It's important to know those things and take responsibility when we are part of the problem.

But often there is a host of complex global factors that contribute to events. In Alberta we are experiencing a serious downturn in the economy due to the the declining price of oil. Who is to blame? Some blame the government or even the premier herself. Yet there are dozens of reasons why this has occurred. The impact of any one individual, even the premier of a province, is negligible.

There are other things that just happen. Things that are are no one's fault. Natural disasters, illnesses, accidents and the unexplained. 

Yet we still want to find someone to blame. We blame our boss, our co-workers, our community, our parents or others close to us. 

And we blame ourselves.
  • I didn't work hard enough.
  • I work too hard.
  • I should have studied more.
  • I should have taken that job offer.
  • I shouldn't have taken that job offer.
  • I'm not smart enough.
  • I never should have gone out with that guy.
  • I'm lazy.
  • I'm a loser for being depressed.
Teachers are among the worst people out there when it comes to blaming themselves. They frequently take responsibility when their students don't learn or don't behave or don't "succeed" yet rarely if ever do they take credit when their students achieve.

You've seen the memes. The memes that tell you everything that is wrong is your own fault. The memes that suggest that the world out there has nothing to do with what happens in your life. It's all on you. 

Tell that to my daughter who wakes up every day wondering if she still has a job in the oil industry. Tell that to my sister who lost her house when B.C.'s coal mines closed. Tell that to the poor of Madagascar who labour night and day for a dollar. Tell that to the Syrian refugees, trapped between their repressive government and ISIL. 

Why do we beat ourselves up in a thousand ways for the things we didn't do that we should have done, the things we could have done better, the things we should never have done? Our self abuse leads to spiraling self recrimination and guilt that causes anxiety, depression and a deteriorating sense of self worth. 

Stuff happens in life. Things that are not your fault. Things that aren't any one person's fault. They just happen.