STOP Pointing Fingers!
By Stephen Doherty
“Stop pointing fingers and placing blame on others. Your life can only change to the degree that you accept responsibility for it.” ―
Of all the traits that I have tried to instill in my children, perhaps this is one of the most important. I honestly cannot think of a faster way to relinquish your own personal power and freedom than to ascribe to other people and events, the shortcomings in your own life. Why? Because if you allow someone or something to disrupt your life in a meaningful way-the solution becomes more difficult when you’ve removed personal accountability and responsibility from the equation.
If you allow yourself to assign “blame” for anything that happens in your life to anyone else but yourself, then how are you ever going to truly own your own actions and decisions? The second you point your finger away from yourself, you’ve set yourself on a path that will make it increasingly difficult to enact the necessary changes required to move forward. A pointed finger is the coward’s salute to shunning ownership of their own destinies. It’s the metaphoric equivalent of trying to deny ownership of your own shadow.
Our current culture and society seem increasingly insistent on excusing and indemnifying-even rewarding bad choices and poor judgment. It is a true rarity today to see someone guilty of something simply stand up and say, “I did it! I’m sorry that I did it and I won’t do it again! I’m willing to accept any consequences that come with it!” On those rare occasions that we do witness such spiritual courage and character-we applaud their honesty and sincerely offer our best wishes for their redemption and return to their prior status. Why? Because it’s such a rare exception in today’s world.
Too often we witness just the opposite as so many people are convinced that anything negative their lives have produced-must be the fault of something or someone else. Their refusal not to accept personal responsibility is bad enough. Their incessant blaming of others has become an insufferable trait of the world we live in. If we can’t own our own actions, then we can never truly be the author of our own stories. I can think of no greater tragedy than relinquishing that pen.
Not so many years ago, my own life bottomed out on every imaginable front. You name it and I had either indulged it, neglected it, or ignored it. Predictably, the sum total of that many bad judgments and poor choices hit critical mass and I was faced with personal losses of stunning magnitude that paled in comparison to those I’d hurt and impacted. The difficulties I would be forced to endure were 100% of my own doing.
I’ve told my kids on many occasions that with few exceptions, our lives are little more than the sum total of our choices. Ironically, my own bad choices would be the most vivid example and lesson to both my kids and to myself, of the tremendous power of our choices-for good and bad. I take pride in setting an example to my kids of never blaming anyone or anything for the great hardships that I had invited into our lives. I take greater pride in setting an example of the power we have to change our lives when we refuse to point fingers but rather hold ourselves accountable for our choices and actions. I’ve never been in a better position than I am today precisely because I knew in my heart that the mechanics of failure could be altered for success–if one only had the will.
The pointed-finger is a sign of weak character unless we have the courage to point it at the mirror. I (kiddingly) told my kids when they were growing up that if they ever pointed a finger of blame in my presence–I would break it and yank it off their hand! Too intense? I don’t think so. To the best of my knowledge, they have refused to give over that power to someone else because they’ve recognized that it’s a power they can put to far better use towards their own purposes and outcomes.
When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember
that four of his fingers are pointing at himself. —Louis Nizer