~ 8 Minute Read.
Do you ever demonize people around you? Attaching bad attributes to people because they are behaving in a way that you don’t like? Let me show you examples that may help you remember:
Your roommate who isn’t washing the dishes or leaves his stuff lying around everywhere, doesn’t do the agreed upon chores or generally seems to be ignoring you.
The boy- or girlfriend that told you s/he doesn’t want to see you tonight, wants to go out with her/his friends instead or is neglecting you in some other way.
Your mom calls you in the middle of the day with what appear to you as unimportant questions, or your dad who forgot what you are currently doing with your life which makes it look like he doesn’t care at all.
The best friend who forgot your birthday or the name of your new girlfriend again.
The people on your school project who seem to leech off of your work.
The list goes on and on and on… I found not demonizing people is a very very hard task and believe it is natural to most people. The antidote is taking full accountability for everything that happens around you.
I learnt this over the course of many, often horribly painful experiences, ranging from my first relationship to University projects and the beginnings of Vhite Rabbit. It seems as if full accountability is a very important skill to practice to get more control in life and taking the stress out of it.
I will barage you with a couple of fancy sounding buzzwords to outline a step for step process that I hope helps with aqcuiring full accountability.
While I may make my suggestions here sound like facts, I do realize it’s not always this easy and there are situations where this does not apply, it is a mindset excercise that you may want to give a shot before you start fighting with someone, who is important to you, on an emotional versus rational level.
First up is
One of the more painful things is to stop denying something. Accepting there is a problem with another person is always the first step to solving it. “with”! It is not the person who is the problem. It’s you who has a problem with the person.
This is hard in two ways: first, you may like the person and it may be hard to admit that they are not perfect and second, blaming someone is the easier route—in other words it means giving away the responsibility to another person.
I have a pretty radical oppinion when it comes to responsibility of others on their behaviour. I outlined it in Determinism and Choice.
To help you understand that it is almost never the person who is the problem, deploy
Now you accepted there is a problem. Next step is to understand it. I believe you should always assume the person problem is not evil at heart. Especially if you knew the person for a while already, they generally care about you as much as you care back.
There is always something that makes a person do something. There is a reason you need to find to understand why they behave and the way to do this is putting yourself into their situation and thinking about how it may be leading to their behaviour.
Examples: the roommate is stressed at his job and is not able to focus on much else, exhausted from the day. The boy or girlfriend realized he spent way more time with his friends back in the days before the relationship and has a horribly bad concience about neglecting them. Your Dad lives so far away from you that you are completely detached from his current life, your mom is not aware of you being busy and her main problems are those that she is calling you about. Your friend is just not a person who cares about birthdays or may just have too much on his mind! Or the other situation: it’s not his girlfriend, it’s yours, or he may just have problems with names. The teammate may not feel competent to join or doesn’t know what to do because of it. He may just not have the discipline you have or have other priorities in life.
If you can’t firgure it out yourself, ask. Most importantly, it’s facts: you will get the other persons reality back as an answer, you may try to rationalize it away, but that is not how reality works. Instead you need to
Things are how they are. Dwelling on that is not an option. I could just as well have used “acceptance” again here.
I read once that “depression is the result of a discrepancy between reality and what you want it to be”. While I will not comment on the questionable quality of that expression, I find this does outline how dwelling on such a discrepancy will lead to no good.
Instead, acknoledge the other persons situation, even if you may be able to handle his or her situation better, understand that the other person is not equipped with your mindset and they would instead handle other situations better than you in return.
Now what. The problem is still there. Just because you forgave the person for causing it for you, we got nowhere. But sure we did, your options are now
Move on means: can you accept the situation/problem given the circumstances you now understand the person is in? Can you adapt your perspective?
Your friend is bad at remembering your birthday, so what? Maybe the issue here is that you want to feel cared about, but maybe that doesn’t need to be by remembering your birthday. Especially if he lost his job or whatever additional circumstances there may be. Do you really need to see your boy/girlfriend every evening? Is it that important that your roomate washes his dishes immediately after breakfast or is after work okay too?
And so on. Sometime evading also works, as in avoiding situations where this problem pops up. Make use of that wisely, though, a evaded problem is not solved and may pop up the next time you are not able to evade the causing situation.
Fix it means: if you really—and this may often be the case—cannot live with the situation as is, you need to put in the energy to change it, it will not change on it’s own. Realize that if you don’t do it, noone will. And if it matters to you then you are the one who needs to take resposibility for it. I cannot guarantee, but often you may find the other person also wants to solve the problem you have with them.
Do this again and again, because just because you tried solving it, that does not imply you did it properly or in the right way.
Yes accountability is a burdon to a degree, but the alternative is agony and a broken relationship to the other person. See it as the power of being able to control your life and being independent of others.
Written from heart in the hopes of potentially sparing you the painful experiences that tought me what I believe to be empathy. This mindset saves what is most important to me over and over again.
Written in 65 minutes, edited in 15 minutes.