QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you guys believe in this idea?

For the most part, I do.

Though I think you have to be a BIT careful with this notion, to make sure that you don't drift into "blame the victim" territory here. There are limits. Horrible things happen to people, out of the blue, for which they are not themselves to blame. As the great Martha Beck once said, in response to the widespread fad of easy self-actualization homilies: "I do not believe that crack babies on ventilators in hospitals are there because they 'manifested' that trauma their own lives."

TO BE SURE, MARTHA. To be sure. And we must never relinquish our compassion for the suffering of others by blaming them for their own hard and sometimes tragic destinies. People struggle terribly in this world, and often randomly. All deserve our love and care.

But then there's the other stuff. The stuff we bring on ourselves. The stuff we perpetuate. The stuff we repeat. The dark stuff we keep seeking out. The bad company we choose to keep (in our minds, and in our lives.) The self-destructive thoughts and actions and vendettas and sorrows that we nourish almost lovingly. The anger we won't release. The crazy stuff we keep doing to ourselves even when, technically, we know better. The (frankly) really stupid shit that we keep raining down on our own heads, year after year, because we haven't figured out how to get out of our own way. Or because we keep waiting for somebody or something to change our fates.

I do know this for certain — NOT ONE THING of any consequence in my life ever changed until I personally changed it. This doesn't mean I did it all on my own. I don't believe in stoic individualism. (There were a few years there, in the really bad times, where I had a TEAM of people propping me up and cheering me on through my struggle — loving family and friends, a great therapist, all sorts of spiritual advisors, basically every self-help book known to man, and all kinds of wise thinkers, living and dead. Not to mention GOD.) I leaned on ALL of them. I needed all of them. But they didn't turn me around. They couldn't. They could only encourage me — give me tools.

Ultimately, my life began to finally turn itself around only when I took complete responsibility for it. When I got sick of blaming everything else and everyone else. And every single problem I've had since that day has been fixed only after — once again — I took complete responsibility for it.

As my dear and brave friend Rayya Elias (author of the beautiful addiction/recovery memoir "Harley Loco") always asks, "At what point do you finally accept accountability for your own path? When do you finally stop waiting to be saved?"

Have you done it already?

Have you adopted your own life, in your own hands?

Could it be today?


via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall